I’m a people person, and that’s why I like marketing: Past the ever-changing social media algorithms and endless industry buzzwords, the heart of this industry is understanding humans and how they think.
If you can reach the right people at the right time with the right message, you are in business — literally. It’s that simple. Personas are a tried and true tool for describing and understanding your ideal audience and, when done correctly, can make them ridiculously easy to reach.
The problem is that most audience personas are severely underdeveloped. Consisting mostly of demographic information, they fail to provide a rich, nuanced profile that helps you recognize a client before the buying cycle begins.
Age, gender, and occupation aren’t enough information for you to get to know a person in the real world, and the same goes for marketing. Here are five better ways to tap into your audience when crafting audience personas.
1. What are their watering holes?
Start by knowing where your audience members hang out — particularly where they go to receive and share information.
Social media is a good place to start, but it’s important to get specific. Though Facebook still dominates the social media landscape, dig into your demographics to determine which platforms to use (and don’t overlook niche social networks).
Watering holes aren’t just digital. They can be physical places (think gyms, grocery stores, salons) based on your industry. Make sure to identify at least three watering holes your audience visits regularly.
2. What is their No. 1 goal?
We’re not asking for a list, a series, or an alphabetical spreadsheet of goals. We’re talking about one single goal — the big tamale — that matters to your audience more than anything else.
At the end of the day, is producing revenue the most important thing? Is it serving their customer base? Is it having more family time? Is it convenience? If there’s one question to get ultra-specific on, it’s this one.
3. What is their No. 1 challenge?
It’s just as important to identify your persona’s one big challenge. If your audience needs to increase their revenue, there is likely one massive roadblock standing in their way, be it an oversaturated marketplace, limited internal resources, or outdated technology.
Once you identify their No. 1 goal and their No. 1 challenge, you can make sure your marketing strategy aligns.
4. What do they do on weekends?
Keeping some parts of the persona light is a big part of getting a 3-D view of who you’re trying to reach. You’re marketing to humans, and humans have more going on in their lives than what they do from 9 to 5.
How does your audience spend their free time? Do they frequent their kids’ soccer games on weekends? Are they at the bar every Friday night? The gym every Saturday morning? Layered profiles are essential for creating rich, meaningful, and real connections.
5. Who are their role models and/or influencers?
Knowing who your audience admires will help you better appeal to their sensibilities. Do they watch TED Talks like they’re going out of style? Have they read Shoe Dog three times? Recognize what inspires them, and you’ll be able to do the same.
This question is especially relevant in the influencer era. Who do they follow on social media? What blogs do they read? Take note of what lights them up.
With this level of specificity, we recommend three to five different audience personas for your business. Make sure to carve out time to do the research and get them right. How you go about collecting that information is just as important (to help you get it right, we made this field research guide).
But by digging deep and putting in the legwork, you’re turning a placeholder into a person. And you now know exactly who that person is, what they need, and where they go to get it, meaning your job just got a lot easier (and a lot more interesting).
Need help narrowing down your perfect audience personas? We’ve got more tips where these came from — let’s talk.