Know your audience

Do you know your audience? I mean, can you really picture them? Who are they? How do they digest information? And, most importantly, what messaging will affect them the most?

Defining your target audience and creating detailed personas is a crucial part of any successful marketing strategy. But let’s get back to the basics, what do we mean when we talk about personas and target audiences?

What are target audiences?

It’s highly unlikely that you have just one target audience. They will be split by their interests, their presence online, or their culture. When thinking about the differences in your audiences, it’s tempting to think about it purely in terms of demographics such as age or gender, however it’s much more effective to think about audiences by their interests and motivations.

A good example could be a bank, segmenting their data depending on the current life status of their audience and their attitude towards money – 3 different audiences: the first-time buyer, the student, and the regular saver – wanting to save up for a nice holiday or a new car.

It’s thinking about the various possibilities around your offering and categorising them into their interest groups. Doing this helps you ensure that you are writing to them in the most effective way.

What is a persona?

A persona is the next granular step in the strategy after defining those target audiences. You have your target segments – the first-time buyer, the student and the worker. Now, you want to create a life-like persona for each of these audiences that help to bring them to life. It helps you to picture them whilst creating the strategy, key messages and copy.

What do you include in a persona?

It’s important to think about a range of characteristics, based on facts that you already know about your current customers.

  • Their age
  • Their gender
  • Their hobbies
  • Their career
  • Where are they on social media?
  • How do they get information? Watching TV, buying newspapers, listening to the radio?
  • How do they prefer to purchase services or products? Online, in store, brochures?
  • What are their problems, and how can you offer a solution?

How do you use personas?

The last point above is probably the most important one. What is their problem and how can you offer a solution to it? Have a real think about this, and it will form your key messages to this target audience.

For example, the first-time buyer wants an account that helps them get the most from their savings, so they can get as big a deposit as possible. So, word your campaigns around this – use the terminology that they are using so it sounds like you are speaking directly to them. And put the messages and content on the platforms that this audience are using, be it social, search or offline marketing.

Put yourself in their shoes. What do they want to hear? Write that down.

Who should get involved?

Creating personas and target audiences isn’t something that a marketing team should keep to themselves. Get everyone involved, especially people who actually talk to your customers– your sales team, or your customer service team are great to get into the mix. They will have valuable insights that will really help you understand exactly who you are talking to.

What next?

So, you have all created some pretty ace personas. Make sure you circulate these everywhere, so all your staff understand who your customers are, and how you are planning on talking to them. Make sure it’s consistent throughout the company so that each touchpoint is using the same key messages and tone of voice.

It’s also important not to just create these personas once and leave them a decade. Just like everything in marketing, audiences and their interests change. Review your key messages annually to make sure they are still true and effective.

Most importantly, creating personas can be really good fun – so enjoy it!

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