Defining Your Audience & Creating Personas for Effective Marketing Decisions
Have you defined your company’s target audience? Has your company developed a buyer persona? If the answer is no, then your marketing campaigns – and every decision your company makes – cannot be as effective as it has the potential to be. Continue reading to find out why.
What is Your Target Audience?
A company’s target audience is the group of people who would most benefit from their product or service. These are the individuals who are already actively seeking products or services like those you offer, or who would be interested in them were they to know about them.
Why Are They Important?
Defining your target audience is vital because every decision you make will be geared towards them (broadly) and your buyer persona (specifically) as described below.
Think about it like this. If you get into your car you always have a destination. Without that destination, it is entirely possible to continue driving until you run out of gas or experience car issues pertaining to overheating or other minor mechanics.
Knowing your destination gives you a clear view of how long it will take, how much fuel you will need, and even what to expect once you get there. The destination is your target audience, and that car is your marketing campaign. Every “mile you drive” or decision you make should be geared towards your destination.
Questions to Ask When Defining Them
Defining your audience is as simple as asking yourself a set of questions and answering them. The answers can come from your own experience – especially if you are an established company – or from research. You can use surveys or check out who your competition’s customers are. The people who need your competitors’ products or services are also the ones who need yours.
When defining your brand, the following are the questions to ask. You can feel free to delve deeper into certain questions as it pertains to you.
Does your target audience favor a specific gender or is it comprised of both equally?
What is their income bracket?
What are their jobs? Is this in a specific industry (such as is the case with many B2B) or several different niches?
How old are they?
What makes them special? For example, they might be stay at home moms, work from home freelancers, doctors, golf enthusiasts, etc.
What are their purchasing habits? What items, outside of your own, do they frequently consume (if any)?
Where do they live? Are they centered around a specific geographical region?
What values or beliefs do they have?
What problems does your target audience face? For example, a stay at home mom may need products which make caring for children easier, while a golf enthusiast will need items that improve his game.
How do they communicate? This may go together with age demographics. Do they prefer social media messaging, email, text, or phone calls?
What is a Buyer Persona?
Hubspot defines a buyer persona as a “semi-fictional, generalized representations of your ideal customer.” They also state that “Personas help us all… internalize the ideal customer we’re trying to attract and relate to our customers as real humans.” The term is often used interchangeably with marketing personas.
What this means, essentially, is that a buyer persona is a detailed but fictional person who is the ideal customer for your business. Although generalized, it is much more specific than a target audience. They bring a level of realism to the world of digital marketing and are an essential part of all modern company’s models.
Why is it Important?
A buyer persona, like your target audience, will give you direction. The difference is that instead of catering to a large, generalized group of people, a buyer persona will allow you to cater to a person. When you write articles or blog posts to the second person “you,” acting as though you are writing to your buyer persona will allow you to create more customized, personalized content.
By putting a “face” of sorts on your customers you can revolutionize your whole marketing strategy. Customers feel more like real people than just numbers, which is essential to the inbound marketing methodology.
How to Create A Buyer Persona
Creating a buyer persona is like defining your target audience. The difference is that you will be creating a story, not simply defining a large demographic. When answering questions to create your buyer persona, you want to keep your ideal customer in mind – not just any customer.
Start by defining what their biggest need is. Let’s say you’re a marketing company who caters to small businesses. Your customer’s biggest need would be that they don’t have the time or staff to executive all marketing-related tasks.
Now, give them a name. We’ll call our theoretical owner Small Business Bill. Now he needs a story to bring him to life.
Small Business Bill is a man who is probably between the ages of 25 and 49. He’s good at running his business, so he probably has a four-year degree. He’ll be needing to pay out for these services, so his income should reflect this. But also keep in mind that he’s not made of money. So his income probably falls in the upper-middle class income bracket of $100K to $350K.
Last, we need to think about his preference and hobbies. His preferred method of contact is email, because he’s very busy. He is a family man of some kind – he may be married with one or more children. His free time is spent researching and testing new technologies for his business.
Now you have a buyer persona, which should look something like this:
Small Business Bill, age 25-49
Job: small business owner
Education: four-year college degree
Income: $100K to $350K
Preferred Contact: Email
Hobbies: Family Man (married with possibly 1+ children), learning and testing new tech for his business
Biggest Problem: He doesn’t have the time or staff to execute all of his marketing-related tasks
Using This Information To make Effective Marketing Decisions
With this information in hand you can use it to make more effective marketing decisions. The idea behind both is to give you more direction when making decisions. They put a face on the blurred image of “customers.”
Your target audience will give you direction in terms of what content to use, which social media platforms you should leverage, and what promotions may prove fruitful. A buyer persona gives you a specific person to cater your products or services to, as well as someone to write your content for.
If you keep these two things in mind when making decisions and ask yourself “how would this improve the lives of my target audience,” or “which choice is best suited to my buyer persona” then you will be driving your company forward with a solid destination in mind and won’t waste anymore gas getting there.
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