What’s a marketing campaign without first knowing the target of your message? The purpose of advertising is completely defeated without the extensive research necessary to identify who you’re going to be speaking and appealing to.
You’re advertising to thousands. Sometimes even millions. But building that large of an audience starts with one person; the one who will represent the general consensus and demographics of those thousands or millions. When you sell your product or service, you need to use research and educated guessing to discover just what type of person is most likely to be interested.
So you create a persona, defined by Buffer as a “composite sketch of a key segment of your audience. For content marketing purposes, you need personas to help you deliver content that will be most relevant and useful to your audience.”
These singular representations of a monolith are essential for helping you “focus on specific customers, and what drives them as they interact with your brand.” It’s the first step in identifying who you’re going to appeal to, how you’re going to do it, and why they’re the most likely to be receptive to your messaging.
What’s most important is the face it puts on the wide swath of the population you’re targeting. It can be overwhelming appealing to large audiences and it becomes easy to look at them simply as a group rather than the individuals who make it up. You want to appeal to many people, but you have to start small-scale; first creating a persona that can represent the average user.
Basically, “you want to know who the person is, what they value, and how best to speak to them.” These three qualities are going to provide you with the best impression of who you should be talking to, why you’re talking to them, and how you should do it.
By doing so, you’re providing a “structured look at their goals in trying your product, the features and content that matters most to them, and the messaging that will appeal to them…..A useful customer profile –also known as a persona– is akin to a comprehensive how-to guide for reaching your ideal customers.”
There are a few resources you can utilize to first discover who your audience is, besides using generalizations that can be safely assumed:
- Site analytics: “See where your visitors came from, what keywords they used to find you, and how long they spent once they arrived.”
- Involve your team: “Anyone with interactions with customers and customer data should be involved in sharing their perspective on what makes your customers tick.”
- Social media research: “Use social media listening to find your potential customers asking or airing problems your product can solve on SM.”
- Ask your audience questions: “For personas to become useful tools, it’s best if they’re based on interviews gathered from salespeople, customer service interactions, and the buyers themselves.”
Once you’ve identified who you’re going to be speaking to, it’s a matter of how you’re going to speaking to them:
- What language would this customer use to identify their current problem?
- What is their greatest hesitation in trying out your offering?
- What is the best way to engage with this customer?
Addressing the first point is key to creating a tone and voice that will be relatable to the user and synchronize well with the product in question. For example, it’s unlikely you’re going to speak like a milennial if you’re advertising products geared more towards adults. The same would be said if you’re advertising products to milennials and either trying too hard or not trying hard enough to speak like one.
Then the second question: what’s stopping your audience from buying? They’re interested, but what’s preventing them from making the final push? Sometimes it’s a matter of funds. But the trigger may not be pulled for reasons you have control over, such as improper explanations, a lack of knowledge of the product, or not having it advertised to them in a persuasive enough manner.
As for the third question, this addresses where you’re reaching your customer. Ask yourself which outlet they’d be most receptive to. Where is your audience most likely going to be frequenting? A specific website? A certain social media channel? Are they frequent email checkers?
All of these questions you’re asking are a means of creating a user profile. This method of discovering your audience will better allow you to identify single customers and their attributes that can be applied to the rest of the group. In fact, it’s even recommended to even go as far as creating a fictionalized character that you believe would be most receptive to your messaging.
This includes giving them a name, identifying their job, role, and the company they work for, applying demographics, and even adding goals and challenges, values and fears. All of these factors can be used to better understand your customer’s decision-making process, as well as their behaviors and interests:
“Create a high-level view of what your user does and what’s important to them in doing business with a company like yours…..Create basic identities for your ideal buyers.”
Once you make your profile, you build on them to present even more information about this character you created:
“Build out these profiles by procuring more detailed information on what these buyers are looking to achieve with your product…..The most important information to identify in this step is the user goals for each customer type and the most important features that may affect their willingness to purchase from you.”
You’re almost writing a story when you create a user profile. You create the characters and what they do in their daily life; what they’re interested in, what they like to do, what they don’t like, what makes them tick, where they live, what do they need, what don’t they need, and, overall, what makes them do the things that they do.
Then you fill in the blanks with research you conducted through analytics, social listening, educated guessing, and sometimes even interviews. It’s not always one-size-fits-all, either. Your personas are going to vary from business to business and industry to industry.
Creating your persons are unique, dynamic processes that challenge your ability to utilize perspective and predict your customer’s tendencies. The results, however, will leave you more likely to find your audience, speak to them in a language they’ll relate to, reach out to them in areas they’re likely to be, and be persuasive enough to enable them to pull the trigger on a sale.