Confused about your audience personas? Here's how to work them out

One of the most important factors that influences the success of a PR and marketing campaign is having a clearly defined audience. Your target audience affects your tone of voice, the publications you target for media coverage, your key messaging and even your product or service’s evolution. In simpler terms, it’s integral to any campaign you put together.

 
Rather than targeting people retroactively, you can take the guesswork out of your next campaign by doing your research and segmenting your audience before targeting. If you’re unsure of how to work out your audience personas, then read on.
 
Why do you need audience personas?
  
In marketing, audience personas are critical in both structuring and evaluating your marketing campaigns. Audience personas are useful to:
 

  • Better understand your prospective customers: Audience personas help you think about and define the needs, wants and desires of your target market.
  • Help you improve your messaging: Once you know who your target market is, you can refine your communication plan to resonate with them.
  • Greater insights into your customers’behavior: More than just understanding your customers’ wants and needs, audience personas can help you understand your customers’ purchasing patterns, key times of activity and who influences their decisions.
     

Use your current data to help define your target audience
 
When you're just beginning to define your audience personas, it can seem difficult to know where to start. Rather than collect new data, you can use your current marketing efforts to help narrow down your key customer segments to first understand your target markets.
 
If your business is on social media, these tools are integral to help you analyse who you need to be targeting.
 
Tools like Facebook Insights collect valuable data about your community – you can learn about the age, gender and location of customers engaged in your company, and use this as a starting point for mapping out your main targets. Social listening tools and media monitoring tools are also helpful to see who is talking about your brand online.
 
Data you collect from customers during marketing and PR activations is also extremely useful. Form fields in competitions or surveys, for example, are opportunities for you to get to know your customers better. The collated information will enable you to understand more about your customers’ situation and interests and what appeals to them.
 
Knowledge of your own product is key
  
While delving into your customers is one piece of the puzzle, the other side is about understanding your own product and how it fits into the world. When going through the process of defining your target audience, ask yourself and your team questions like:
 

  • What is the purpose of my product or service? What problem, if any, is it solving?
  • What makes my product unique?
  • Why do my current customers purchase from me?
  • Where does my product sit in the broader industry and marketplace?

 
Putting it all together
  
Once you have both the information on your target audience and firm knowledge of your own product or service’s role, you can put these together to help identify your biggest markets and begin building a persona for each one. All this has the end goal of gaining more insight into your customer and how to communicate efficiently.
 
The easiest way to build a persona is to either use a real customer that fits into your target demographic or by using a well-known celebrity. Build a full profile around them, including:
 

  • Basic information. Include age, hobbies, household income, living situation and profession.
  • How they find information. Are they using their mobile, desktop or tablet? Do they confer with multiple people before buying a product or is it more of a spontaneous purchase? When are they most frequently online?
  • Their motivations. What drives them to purchase products? What problem are they trying to solve, if any?
  • Your product’s point of difference. Why would they choose your product over others in the market?

From this, you can adapt your tone of voice as needed and reflect on the best times and mediums to reach these customers, as well as refine your PR efforts to target the right publications for coverage. Audience personas are also a great tool to come back to at the beginning and end of marketing campaigns to evaluate your messaging – and ultimately, help your marketing and PR efforts be more successful in the future.
 

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