Personas: A Better Way To Understand Your Audience

Cobi Claesen

In Marketing Strategy Posted

When developing a social media strategy, it’s important to keep your target audience in mind. This doesn’t only help you with understanding who you are trying to reach, but it also gives you insights into how you’re going to reach them, where and when.

So who can you define as your target audience? Those are the people who would be interested in buying your product or making use of your service. They are those people who have a need or a problem that your company has the solution for. A lot of companies would claim their product is ‘made for everyone’. And even though I can see how this is possible, it’s always better to be more specific.

The more targeted your marketing efforts, the more effective they will be. Let’s say you developed a cloud software that could be used by everyone. But you decided to market it specifically to students, offering them great values and features. When students are looking for this type of cloud software, they are more likely to chose ‘The Best Software For Students’, over your competitors – who are just targeting everyone.

So now we made clear how important it is to define your target audience, let’s have a look at how to do that. One of the most effective ways of gaining a better understanding of your public is to create personas.

Creating personas

Personas are fictional and highly stereotyped characters, that represent your customer group. By defining different characteristics such as their interest, internet behaviour and problems they might experience – we get to know the people we’re trying to reach with our marketing campaigns.

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Of course, it’s hard to compress such a wide variety of people that you consider as your audience into a couple of fictional characters. And you will be stereotyping, a lot. But it will also help you in creating a more personalised marketing message – something that has become increasingly important in social media for example.

How to create a basic persona

Let’s start with the basic. Of all of our personas, we’re probably going to want to know basic information such as their gender, age, occupation, marital status and nationality. We should give our character a name as well, and it would help to look for a fitting photo to go with it.

 

Now it’s time to get a little bit more creative. What else do we want to know about this person? Aspects to look at are their interest, hobbies and things to do in their free time. We can look at their home situation, where they’re living and who they are living with. And assuming you are using these personas to work out a digital marketing strategy, it makes sense to look at their social media behaviour and internet behaviour too.

Think about what type of platform your character would be active on. Is he or she younger and most likely active on Snapchat? Or are you dealing with an older generation but tech savvy enough to have a Facebook profile? Don’t forget the less obvious platforms such as Pinterest, YouTube or Google+ that might offer you some great insights for your campaign.

Also, think about what types of content they prefer or interact with. Tagging each other in memes? Listening to podcasts? Watching silly YouTube videos? Downloading eBooks? Try to include as much information as possible in your persona outlay.

Personas related to your company

Now we have an idea of who were dealing with and what their digital habit is, it’s time to get more concrete. After all, we’re trying to figure out how to spark their interest in your brand and how to connect with them.

Try to think of a problem or need your persona might have (for which you offer the solution). Why would they need your services? How does this problem originate and how would they deal with this?

Then list their pain points. If they are trying to look for a solution, what isn’t that gets in the way? What are their frustrations with competitors? Or what are their previous experiences?

Finally, describe how they would be able to benefit from what you offer. What part of your product or service would be valuable to them and could improve their life.

Let’s say you are a website design platform. One of your personas is Lauren, a 30-year-old designer who lives in San Fransico, and who’s looking for a way to showcase her portfolio. She doesn’t know anything about website design. Her problem or need would be a platform that has an easy interface, that doesn’t require much knowledge. Her pain points would be that she doesn’t like the design of other competitors too much. Luckily, you offer great designs that work with easy templates and drag and drop features.

 

Another example. Thomas has been working very hard for the past 3 years. He is stressed and tired as decides he needs a holiday. His pain point is that none of the travel operator he talked to offer catered adventure trips for people of his age, and he’s sick of sitting in big resorts. Your brand is a travel operator that offers highly personalised adventure packages to worldwide destinations.

You see where I am heading at? Great. Now it’s time to get creative yourself! To send you off in the right direction, I created a free Persona Template that you can use.

From personas to customer journeys

Now we know what our customers look like, where they hang out and how they would benefit from our product. Now it’s time to map out their problem, and the process they go through before deciding on their solution. This process – from the awareness stage to the decision stage – is called the customer journey.

By defining the customer journey based on the personas we created, we can map out our strategy in more detail. We can define what content would work best in what stage and how we’re going to bring it to them.