When it comes to communications, audience is everything.
Whether you’re developing a communications strategy or creating a social media campaign, it’s essential to understand your audience’s motivation and how they consume information. The more you know about your audience, the better prepared you’ll be to develop plans, activations and content that resonates with them.
One time-tested way to gain a better understanding of your audience is the buyer persona.
While the term might bring to mind B2C or consumer brand communications, buyer personas are just as important for B2B, e-commerce, social media, and even media relations. Not only do they provide beneficial and critical information, creating a buyer persona can also help you overcome assumptions, perceptions and opinions about your audience that may have developed over time.
If you’re just kicking off the buyer persona process, here are five things to keep in mind.
1. Segment Your Audience
Make sure that you're properly segmenting your audience and defining who they are. You need to understand the different needs and motivations of each group or type of person in your audience, as well as what they need from you.
In this process, you’re trying to learn about their pain points, the obstacles they’re trying to overcome, the goals they're trying to achieve, and the triggers for them in their decision-making process.
2. Know Where They Get Their Information & Who They Listen To
Once you have a better definition of your audience segments, the next step is to determine the best ways to reach them.
Where do they get their information? Are they reliant on word-of-mouth? What social media channels are they using? Do they prefer traditional media outlets or podcasts?
Understanding your audiences’ everyday behavior is an extremely important part of developing your overall communications strategy.
It’s also crucial to know who your target audiences are relying on for insight and information when they make decisions. You need to understand who else is in their ecosystem—in the family, in the office or otherwise—and how often they look to them.
3. Research, Research, Research
Research is absolutely the most effective way to get a clear picture of your audience—and it's probably more accessible than it's ever been. Research doesn't have to mean that you need to do an exhaustive, highly expensive market research study, though that will definitely yield useful results.
There are a lot of online research tools that have a low barrier of entry. You could do online surveys and/or small focus groups or panels. Any level of direct engagement and research with your audience is better than none. You're going to learn something from investing that time in connecting directly with your audience.
I can’t think of a time where we've done audience research for a client where they didn't learn something new.
Talking to your existing customer base should also be a part of your research process. It’s a great way to fill in any knowledge gaps about your audience and paint a clearer picture of their process and experience. Doing so also helps you get a more objective, accurate assessment of how your customers perceive you and your brand.
That kind of insight is invaluable; it can be a true game-changer for your strategy.
4. Evolve With Your Audience
Once you’ve evaluated all your research, developed your buyer personas and turned your insights into strategies, it’s important to keep in mind that understanding your audience is an ongoing process.
The needs, pain points, and motivations of your audience are fluid. New segments can develop quickly, and channels that were once extremely valuable can lose their impact. You’ll need to revisit your buyer personas periodically to ensure you’re focusing your efforts – and budget – in the right places.
A strong connection with your audience is the foundation of successful communications, and buyer personas are an extremely effective way to build your understanding and knowledge.
If you’re ready to start developing buyer personas, reach out to learn how Airfoil Group can help you get a deeper understanding of your audience.