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If someone asked you to describe your marketing audience, what would you say? Would you be able to talk about them demographically? Describe what they respond to? Know their interests and habits? Would you know where they hang out online? Understanding that core picture of your audience is key to being able to market effectively to them.
These customer pictures are known in marketing as personas. They help remind marketers:
- Who to talk to
- When to talk to them
- How to talk to them
- Where to talk to them
- What to talk to them about
Some debate the effectiveness of personas, but if they’re done right, they inform what content is developed and on what topics, what platforms to distribute the content (or target ads) to, and where to present that information in front of audiences.
How do you develop personas? A lot goes into the process, including the collection of demographics, psychographics, technographics, and behavioral data about audiences gleaned through analytics, surveys, focus groups, Q&As, and other methods. At Marketing Nice Guys, we break down our personas into 4 core areas:
- Demographic/Geographic: Male/female, age, income, location
- Psychographics: Career ambition, values, opinions/beliefs
- Behavior: Where do they go on the Internet, what do they respond to, how do they come become aware your site?
- Challenges/pain points
Tips on Data Collection
1. Use Real Research Methods. For surveys, focus groups, or anything that requires quantitative data analysis, make sure to hire someone who has been trained in the science of research methods. Too often, when untrained marketers lead such things, they ask leading questions or don’t use proper methods to analyze incoming data, both of which can skew results.
2. Talk to Real People. One of the clichés that’s often said about marketing is the importance of marketers getting out and talking to audiences to learn more about them – whether that’s a formal focus group, getting on sales calls, or even doing one-on-one interviews. Yet, even though it’s considered important, many marketers admit they don’t have the time to engage in it, and often just rely on analytics data to form the picture of the audience. The reason focus groups and even one-on-ones are useful is that they help put a face to the challenges and issues
3. Provide a name to your persona. One of the great examples of a corporate turnaround in simply rethinking an audience persona is Timberland, the outdoor footwear and clothing retailer. Several years ago, Timberland had enlisted an agency to survey thousands of current and potential customers about their preferences. They asked questions such as: How important was price? How much did they care about others’ thoughts on their look? How much were they into the outdoors? What they found was that, across all geographies, one type of shopper stood out – something the agency termed an “outdoor lifestyler,” – a city dweller who goes out for an afternoon walking or a person who leaves her house in the early morning not knowing if he or she was going to spend her afternoon going on a hike or at the theater. In the end, the new persona refocused the company’s product and marketing, and literally went on to change the fortunes of the company in a few years.
Lastly, How Do You Help Your Audience?
The end result of developing a persona should be that you come up with the ways in which you help those individuals and, in the ideal world, should make you rethink both the product and the marketing as in the Timberland example above. Do you help them by providing practical content? Thought leadership? Do you solve their challenges? Make something easier for them? Or more convenient? What stories do you tell to engage them? Those questions are all the outgrowth of understanding your audience.
At Marketing Nice Guys, we walk through the essence of audience research and personas in our two-day training, including the tips and tricks for how to develop them successfully. Contact us to learn more.