The driving force and muse behind every branding campaign is the audience persona, and effectively targeting it. Your audience persona is essentially the characteristics and behaviors of your ideal audience, more specifically who you want to sell to. Your target audience is the broad, umbrella term used to encompass the different audience personas that make up the group. Multiple companies can have the same target audience, but your audience personas could be different based on preferences, behaviors and attitudes.
How Target Audiences Form
Your target audience is the market you want to attract and sell to. Target audiences typically vary from industry to industry, and within those niche audience groups are even more narrow audiences that favor specific products or services.
The best way to determine your target audience is by conducting thorough research into the market, and understanding the needs and identities of your potential and current buyers. This research can be done through conducting surveys and following up with customers to gain insight into their experience with your company. When forming your target audience, you should ask yourself some of these questions:
- What consumer need does my brand meet?
- Who is likely to desire my products or services?
- What does my brand offer consumers that the competition does not?
Although you may have a general understanding of the answers to these questions, diving deep and closely breaking down your brand’s answers is how you formulate your precise audience persona. Your target audience is more general, and could be groupings such as:
- Education status
- Physical location
- Religious affiliation
- Relationship status
Because these groupings are quite broad, it is sure that you and your competition will share a target audience to some degree. This is why it is crucial to conduct thorough market research when establishing exactly who your target audience is and the personas that exist. Your brand’s target audience may not have a direct classification for every single one of the above categories or groupings, but the more you know about your target audience, the more successful you will be at engaging them in a way that grows your brand.
Audience Personas Dive Deeper
Unlike your target audience, which is broader and can be shared among industry competitors, your audience persona is unique to your brand. Your audience persona essentially humanizes your customers in order to help you successfully meet their needs. It is one thing to be able to provide and understand simple data such as what is being sold and what is not but understanding and maintaining your audience persona allows you to understand how and why certain aspects of your brand do or do not do well. By humanizing your audience, you can better understand and meet their needs, thus growing your brand.
When forming your audience persona, make sure that you are focused on the concrete, collected market data and avoid generalizing or making assumptions about your audience. You want to specifically look closely at who they are and what their needs are. If you know that your brand aims to be preferred by women who are in their mid to late twenties, who work in the retail industry, and have an interest in fashion, you are going to be able to market your brand and its offerings with more success than if you were to aim for say, adult women in general. Using the same context, many companies can aim to sell to women of these specifications, but market research allows you to craft your brand to stand out from the competition to your audience – your market research allows you to pinpoint your brand’s unique audience persona to reach them effectively.
A major component of your audience persona is also your targeted audience’s habits. Being able to pinpoint which members of the overall audience are going to be specifically interested in your brand’s offerings presents you with a leg up in the market. You want to imagine the person behind the choices and try to understand the thought process that goes into their selection process when they are selecting where and who to do business with. The audience persona is so much more than the general makeup of your consumers, it is the core identity which drives their decision-making processes.
Benefits of a Distinct Audience Persona
Having a distinct audience persona established for your brand is incredibly beneficial. Being able to present your brand to the right audience in an efficient, streamlined way saves you big when it comes to time and the overall return on your investment into branding efforts. Understanding your audience persona from the start of your brand also prevents the need to return to the drawing board to fine tune your existing brand into what the consumers desire. Instead of hitting the market and then adjusting your brand to meet your audience’s needs, you are anticipating and understanding those needs ahead of time. This positions your brand within the market as being “in touch” with its audience and improves consumer trust. This creates a market perception for your brand that is clear about what your brand does and who it is for.
An audience persona can also prove helpful to brands when it comes to generating and maintaining customer loyalty and trust in general. Being able to demonstrate that you see, understand, and aim to solve your consumers’ needs when it comes to your industry shows your customers that you are a partner that makes the effort to reach customer satisfaction. Presenting your audience persona clearly and reflecting it throughout your brand allows potential and current customers to recognize themselves within that persona so that they can properly envision how your brand can meet their similar needs. A polished audience persona can also inspire trust among your consumers, trust that you can meet their needs currently, but also trust that you will continue to meet their needs.
In addition to consumer trust, having a distinct audience person helps your brand grow in multiple ways. When consumers have a clear picture of who your brand is for, not only are they able to consider whether your brand is right for themselves, but your brand is more likely to be shared via referral. Your audience persona should be clear enough that when consumers see your marketing efforts they can quickly see “this brand is for ___” and from there it should resonate enough that if the initial audience is not interested, your brand will remain in their mental library when it comes to referring others. Referrals are one of the best kept marketing secrets that require little investment beyond the setup, but have the potential to bring in measurable success, in fact a successful referral program within B2B marketing has a 78% chance of generating positive leads for your brand. Being able to establish your unique audience persona from the start of your brand means that all your marketing and branding efforts will be as efficient and productive as possible, reducing the margin of error for failing to meet the correct target audience.
Potential Audience Persona Troubles
Although the benefits of a strong audience persona can result in significant brand success by targeting your audience efficiently and generating brand awareness and buzz, there are also several ways in which an inaccurate audience persona can harm your brand.
As you know the purpose and role of your audience persona is to effectively guide all branding and company decisions. Just as your brand evolves to offer new services and products over time, your audience persona will also need to evolve along with it. You want to avoid the common mistake of trying to keep your audience persona too broad. Your target audience can remain broad, but your audience persona should be specifically tailored and adjusted as your brand moves forward. Your brand’s audience persona is not going to be what it was five years ago, and not updating it as your brand grows can result in a negative market perception due to irrelevancy. It is one thing for your brand to not have ENOUGH market perception surrounding it, especially at the beginning, but a NEGATIVE market perception means that the market is aware of your brand – it is just not doing well.
An unmaintained audience persona can result in negative market perception for being outdated, inaccurate, too broad, too specific, and too generic to name a few. Having an audience persona that you have not taken the time to sit down and carefully craft from market research and consumer breakdowns means that your brand is more likely to fall short of the mark in terms of generating growth. You are not going to appeal to the correct audience and reach those who have a need or desire for your brand, and instead are going to go unnoticed by uninterested parties.
In addition to negatively impacting market perception, having an unpolished audience persona can cause your brand to see a decrease in leads and customer loyalty, simply because your audience does not identify with your brand. There is no driving force that makes them excited about connecting with your brand, and there is nothing that indicates to them that you are undoubtably right for their needs. Where a refined audience persona draws potential customers in and then retains their loyalty, an unclear and unpolished audience persona can generate more confusion and unenthusiastic client reviews. Your audience persona should draw in business by showcasing who you are for and what you can do for them, not generate brand confusion and sabotage sales growth.
Putting Words into Action
Every single brand has a target audience, and those target audiences tend to be more generic and industry specific. However, your audience persona is custom crafted for your brand and its services or products specifically, and essentially humanizes your consumers. A polished audience persona has the power to drive your brand towards considerable growth, and helps you stand out to your audience when it comes to the competition. Your audience perception is incredibly important to the overall branding and marketing efforts of your company and should constantly be updated and refined to maintain success. Being able to effectively communicate who your brand is for and who you aim to engage makes the overall selection process for your clients easier, and promotes confidence when it comes to decision making for potential and future clients – confidence that you are the right brand for them.
An audience persona that is well crafted and maintained can result in many benefits for your company, and its role is to help you closely reach and engage the most accurate audiences for your brand and what it has to offer. If you are unsure of where to begin when it comes to understanding your audience persona, the best place to begin is consulting a professional branding firm that has the process down to a science. An experienced agency can help you understand your target audience and pinpoint your brand’s precise audience persona to build your brand.
About Millennium Agency
Millennium Agency is a national, award-winning boutique branding, messaging and strategy marketing firm for the software technology and manufacturing sectors. A top-led women-owned business, we take your brand and vision seriously and build a strategy that drives brand success. Our expert team unites creative branding, storytelling and data analytics to accelerate your business growth. With offices in Boston and New Hampshire, and a worldwide presence, the professionals at Millennium Agency would like to learn more about your business.