How to Create Audience Personas
How many audiences does your brand have? Many businesses tend to focus on creating messaging and marketing strategies for a single, monolithic target customer. Females, between the ages of 35-60, living in major metropolitan areas. Men, 18-26, users of TikTok. Broadly generalized and assuming that not only is there one type of customer, but that audiences that aren’t customers aren’t worth thinking about.
Customer (and Audience) Segmentation is Key
In reality, brands tend to have multiple audiences–including both customers and non-customer groups like internal team members, investors, brand partnerships, media, influencers, etc. The way a brand communicates with these audience groups may not always be the same as the way that they communicate with their customer.
And even for the target customer, it’s incredibly beneficial to think about segmenting communications strategies around not just broad demographics, but the needs and wants of a more diverse set of customer segments. Thinking about customers in this way can lead to more targeted marketing strategies that speak more directly to people in more effective ways.
When creating a communications strategy for a brand, we start by fleshing out the true set of audiences the brand will be communicating with. This includes both developing clear customer segments and any other important internal and external audience groups. We develop a strong understanding of the things they care about, and document them in the form of audience personas.
What is an audience persona?
An audience persona is basically a flash card that tells you the most important things to keep in mind when creating a strategy targeted to a particular audience. It covers the basics, like demographics, but goes deeper into the preferences and needs of the audience, by looking at four key areas: Goals, Challenges, Frustrations, and Motivations. From there, it’s much easier to understand what an audience needs to hear to feel like the conversation is authentic and productive.
What are some things this persona wants to achieve, professionally or otherwise?
Do they have specific goals your brand can help them achieve?
What goals paint a picture of how this persona thinks or what is important to them in their personal life?
What stands in the way of this persona achieving their goals?
How do their challenges affect the way they perceive themselves or your brand?
Which of their challenges can your brand help them overcome?
What are pet peeves this persona has?
What are things your competitors do that this persona dislikes?
What should you avoid doing when engaging with this persona?
Which frustrations can your brand alleviate?
We use a standard set of factors to document what motivates a persona to take action. People can be motivated by multiple factors, so we use bar graphs to show how much each type of motivation impacts their decision making.
- Incentive - Do they receive (or want to receive) an incentive, monetary or otherwise?
- Fear - This could mean fear of consequence, fear of missing out, etc.
- Achievement - Will making this decision potentially lead to recognition for this persona?
- Growth - Could engaging with your brand lead to personal or professional growth for this persona?
- Power - Does this persona seek to increase their influence, in the realm of business politics, etc?
- Social - Do they make decisions based on what is best for society, the environment, the common good, etc?
Other Things to Include
Once you’ve identified the core aspects of your personas, you can start thinking about adding components to power your strategic development.
- Which digital channels are most effective for this audience?
- How does your brand help solve their challenges or meet their needs?
- Which value propositions would resonate best with this audience?
Why Audience Personas Matter
By documenting these details for a larger, and more targeted, set of audience segments, you can think about where the needs and preferences of disparate groups intersect and where they differ. You can build better campaigns, user experiences, and content that identify and recognize each audience for who they are and what they’re looking for.