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Personas – An Advancement In Target Market Segmentation

Jenny Reardon | 12 September 2016

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Regardless of the channels you use, the type of content you produce, or the target market you’re trying to reach, successful messaging always boils down to one thing: relevance. If your messages have it, they’ll make an impact. And if they don’t, they won’t get a second glance.

And that, of course, is the crux of the matter. How do you ensure message relevance? Your target audience is wandering around out there, surrounded by a myriad of messages, and they have little time for anything else other than the information that will help them solve their challenges. To get their attention, you need to know what those challenges are, and then you need to develop messages that address those problems.

But, how do you appeal to your audience’s interests and concerns when they are so varied? Simple: you segment them according to common traits, and then you develop messages specifically for these groups. The tighter you make the parameters of a group and the more thoroughly you develop an audience profile, the more specific and relevant your messages can be.

Buyer personas ensure greater relevance

And that’s where buyer personas come in. These semi-fictional representations of your ideal customers represent the next level in audience profiling. Beyond the usual demographics, personas include your audience’s values, interests, decision making processes, challenges, aspirations, and media preferences. Each of these factors adds another element of relevance when used properly, and persona-aligned messaging can achieve a level of relevance like no other approach.

To help you get your personas right, we’ve included a short list of things to consider when you develop your personas:

Values & interests

Though you have to produce content about your products and services, this is not where you are going to attract the most customers. You’ll achieve far greater reach by producing content on topics that are only tangentially related to your product. Though only loosely related to your main offering, this kind of content can achieve much higher engagement rates because it appeals directly to your target market’s interests.

Communication styles

Whether young or old, male or female, different groups use language differently. To engage your target market, you need to communicate with them in a style they are familiar with. But, it’s also important to note that communication style goes beyond the simple choice of words. It’s also related to a persona’s values. The degree of openness, directness, and empathy in your messaging can have a big impact on how well your messages are received.

Decision-making processes

No persona is complete without a buyer journey. These anticipated thought processes outline the different stages of the decision-making process that a prospect moves through as they consider a purchase. By anticipating a persona’s doubts and questions, a marketer can deliver the right message or content to a prospect at the moment that they need to have a question answered or a doubt allayed.

Channel and media preferences

The vast majority of your prospects are on some kind of social media network, but you need to know which platforms they use. Well-developed personas will tell you which channels you should target and which content has the greatest appeal for them. You can use both gated videos and downloadable eBooks as conversions assets, but these need to be chosen according to your personas’ preferences.  

Once you incorporate these various elements into your personas, you can then develop messages and content that speaks directly to your target market. Just bear in mind that to do so, you need to align all messaging elements with all your persona’s particulars –  preferences, values, and decision-making processes. If you would like to learn more about how to practice targeted messaging, you can download our inbound marketing guide for more information on this powerful approach to inbound marketing.

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Image credit: Evolve Digital