Building personas: How to define your target audience
Our guide to what you should know about your customers, and how it fits into your content marketing.
A solid target audience definition should form the core of every business activity. Without it you’re marketing with a blindfold on. Get to know your audience inside and out – who they are, why they need your product, where you can reach them and what drives their decision-making.
Once you have this sussed, your target audience definition should be behind everything you do. After all, without an audience, you have no business.
Here’s how to make a start on compiling this all-important definition.
Where to look for insights
Your current customer base
Look at who your current customers are, where they are based, what they do and what products they buy. Identify common characteristics, as it is highly likely that others like them could also benefit from your offering.
Your own products and services
Note down every use case you can think of. Let’s say you’re selling stain remover: you might make a note of mums washing kids’ muddy clothes, or young professionals trying to get food stains out of their best suit. Same product, two different personas. The more use cases you come up with, the more potential personas you’ll find.
You should know your competitors inside out. Who are they marketing to? What messages are they using? Which seem to be working, and which seem to be falling flat? Analysis of your competitors and their customers can switch you on to personas you haven’t yet considered – the key question will be whether you want to target those personas or go for a different part of the market.
Drilling for detail
Look for common and popular topics
What attitudes, beliefs, interests and hobbies do your personas have? Back to the stain-remover example – our mum might be into fitness, and we already know our young professional is into food (those stains didn’t create themselves).
When you come to create content, those insights will help you tell stories that your personas can relate to. They’ll also give you some steers on where to try and place your content.
Look at lifestyles and need states
Determine exactly where your product fits into your customers’ lifestyle and how and when they will use it. For example, our mum might be more interested in pure cleaning power, while our young professional might be more interested in fast action. Presto! More insights into how to position the product in your content marketing.
Know where to find your target audience
Understand where your customers spend their time both online and offline. This will form your marketing outreach strategy. For example, if you’re targeting the millennial population, you’ll almost certainly need a strong social media presence. You can then use this information to further segment your audience.
Creating your persona documentation
Build basic profiles
In a way, this is the fun part. Pull all your insights into persona files, turning them from raw spreadsheet data to fully rounded characters that the marketing and content teams can get their heads around. Include everything you’ve come up with, from basic personal information to hobbies and interests to the individual’s relationship to your product and brand.
Add pictures, music and more
It’s up to you how rich and colourful you want to make your personas. Most marketers give each persona a name to help bring it to life – believe it or not, there’s a big psychological difference between “Male, 35” and “Joe, a 35-year-old man”.
Some go further still and add playlists, mugshots and full-on mood boards. It can be time-consuming, but writers often find it useful to have those richer assets around them when producing content. For more on that, check out our guide to tailoring your writing to a target audience…