How to Find Your Ideal Customer
You ever hear the age-old saying, “You can’t be everything to everyone?” Well, audience personas whittle down that “everyone” portion of that sage advice. Because as bumper sticker worthy as that saying is, it’s right when it comes to branding. If your brand tries to appeal to absolutely everyone, you’ll miss the mark with absolutely everyone.
Audience personas help you focus your efforts (and marketing dollars) on the demographic(s) your brand should be engaging with, and outline when, where, and how to best reach them.
What is an audience persona?
Audience personas (sometimes called buyer personas) are fictional, generalized representations of your ideal customers. They are created based on market research, internal and external research and experience, and real data about your existing or potential audience, depending on if you have an established brand or one that’s fresh out of the box.
More than just a target audience, audience personas include specific behavior patterns, motivations, goals, and the challenges your brand can solve based on your brand’s differentiators and the benefits you bring to your customers.
An audience persona is a profile of your ideal customer, a profile that is into oversharing. You walk away with not only a visualization of what your customer looks like, but you know their name, occupation, income, likes, dislikes, background, challenges, and media consumption habits right down to what TV show they watch on what streaming service—all based off that behavioral data, market research and consumer data and experience you’ve collected.
Why do I need audience personas?
When done correctly, audience personas should be as well-rounded as a real customer. This will not only influence your marketing strategy, but all the content and campaigns you create, product development, customer service—all of it. Audience personas get everyone on your team on the same page about how to attract and interact with the ideal customer in the right way, with the right messages, at the right time, and ultimately bring them closer to your brand.
How will audience personas save my brand money?
Do you like throwing spaghetti at the wall and seeing what—if any—sticks? Now, imagine that spaghetti as your marketing dollars. Not so enjoyable is it? Creating audience personas is one of the most impactful ways to ensure your marketing dollars are spent wisely and is central to your brand’s success.
Let’s say you’re about to launch a digital ad campaign; if you know exactly what audience you are talking to you can adjust those perimeters to reach your ideal customer. You could spend money to reach a lot of random people (many who have no use or interest in your brand) or you can invest that same amount of money to hit exactly who you want it to and who share your brand’s values and interests. It’s a no brainer that the latter will bring you serious ROI.
Examples of why you need audience personas
To help illustrate the importance of having well-defined audience personas, here are a few examples of well-known brands. Take a look at each of the following names and think about how different they present their information, their visual image, what language they use in their messaging, the look and feel of their website, etc.
- Burton Snowboards
- Hello Kitty
Now think about what would happen if the brands targeted each other’s audience. How would the Hello Kitty audience feel about Forbes, Burton with Skittles, etc. Would it resonate? Would they get sales? Or would it be a waste of marketing dollars?
Knowing who you should be talking to means you spend your marketing dollars where those people are—and you can’t do that without a well-defined audience persona.
How many audience personas should I have?
Short answer: not too many. Otherwise you fall prey to that whole “everyone” issue again. The number of personas you have should be aligned with your brand strategy, which includes your brand’s objectives, mission and goals.
There is no “right” answer to the number of audience personas a brand should have, but common practice is three. Depending on the complexity of the company or organization, it may warrant more or less.
Audience personas should be something you go back to often. Whether you’re launching a new campaign or thinking about doing a television commercial, these personas are there for you to go back to and reference, always asking, “what would make this person interested in this product launch” or “does this person watch TV or am I better off with social advertising?” Like a barometer for success, your personas will be there to guide your decisions.