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Inbound Marketing Blog

    Lessons from Aflac on Marketing to End User Personas

    Posted by Bill Faeth

    Magical Marketing Moments

    And the award for most sophisticated marketing goes to...AFLAC. What? Its commercials may lack Isaiah Mustafa riding around on a unicorn and making men’s deodorant irresistible. They also might lack the dancing hamsters that made the Kia Soul cool. However, Aflac deserves some serious credit for its genius at selling directly to its end user buyer personas, who are really just regular Joe Sixpacks:

    Aflac is a broker of emergency insurance funds for those who need it. Its coverage can come in handy when you’re out of work due to critical health situations. While the company offers policies to individuals, it currently maintains over 456,000 corporate accounts in the U.S. alone. Not to make assumptions, but why wouldn’t Aflac want to increase its sales to businesses instead of individuals? Bringing a company with 200 or 2,000 employees on board has got to be awesome for its bottom line. We’re about to blow your mind on explaining how this incredibly Joe Sixpack-specific commercial is actually a really effective way for the organization to win these prized corporate accounts.

    Personification is About Creating Something Compelling

    Think back to the best piece of marketing you’ve ever seen. For the majority of Americans over the age of Generation X-ers, it might be Steve Job’s infamous 1984 Apple commercial. Millennials might think of Old Spice or the famous Levi’s re-branding campaign with Walt Whitman poetry. There was something about that marketing that was so incredibly compelling that it made you feel you needed the product.

    I’ll be the first to admit that personification, the process of writing extensive profiles of your ideal client, seems pretty flaky. Once you start to analyze their pain points and pin a name of the profile, it can even get a little creepy. However, it works. Detailed profiles can help you understand a persona’s pain points and objections, and allow marketers to customize marketing messages that are positively irresistible.

    Aflac Targets the End User

    It’s certainly safe to assume that Aflac would be very, very happy to write a thousand policies for individuals tomorrow. I think it’s also safe to say the company would be a little happier to write 800 corporate policies instead. By tailoring its marketing messages directly to the end user of its product, the regular individual who might struggle to make car payments if he or she were unexpectedly injured, it’s effectively able to target its buyer persona: the corporate executive.

    Why? It’s probably pretty difficult to get marketing messages in front of a HR decision-maker at a major corporation. That person has an awful lot on his or her task list. Research has proven that cold calls are pretty ineffective, so companies have got to tailor their marketing to a demographic that can influence the decision-maker. By making employees at companies feel that Aflac could really benefit their family in case of the unexpected, its message is relayed to HR administrators who can do more research on emergency coverage policies.

    The Moral?

    If you’re trying to utilize social media marketing to reach buyer personas who don’t have a Twitter or Facebook, your efforts are going to be pretty ineffective, no matter how well you’ve addressed that personas’ needs. Great marketing appeals to the decision-maker, and it takes an alternative route if that plan isn’t plausible or possible. Sometimes, there are more significant benefits associated with influencing people who can take your message to the decision-maker. Effective personification examines factors that occur outside the arena of inbound or interruption marketing to ensure the message is heard loud and clear.

    Which companies do you feel are effectively utilizing personification in their marketing?

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    Topics: Social Media