Who Are You Writing For? How to Build an Audience Persona

Who Are You Writing For? How to Build an Audience Persona and Discover Your Ultimate Reader

by | Jul 9, 2013 | Copywriting | 0 comments

Marketing 101:

You can’t market to everyone. It’s just not possible.

That’s why marketers hone in on specific audiences for their brands.

Here’s the logic: For every product or service, there exist ideal buyers who will be totally into it, desperately need it, or some ratio of both.

No, you can’t market to each of them individually.

But, you can distill their similarities into an overall audience persona.

This persona is a fictional human you create who has all the traits common to your target audience.

This sounds great in theory, but why should you create one for your brand? How do you get started?

The answers are right here.

Why Create an Audience Persona?

Besides the fact that using personas can boost your success rates (one company reported an increase in sales leads of 124% as a direct result of using targeted personas), what are some other reasons to use them?

1. Talk to Exactly Who Will Buy From You

Imagine standing on a stage and looking into an audience full of people. You want to talk to the ones who will buy what you’re selling – but how? Right now, they’re just a sea of random faces.

Now, imagine if you could shine a spotlight on an audience member who represents your ideal targets. This person’s interests, behavior, demographics, job, income, etc. are all indicative of your ultimate buyer.

In fact, if you could pool your ideal buyers, take their common traits, and mold them into a new person, this is what that person would look like.

All of a sudden, by singling out this one persona, you have the opportunity to speak directly to your buyer and get them to engage. If you tailor your messages to them, you’ll not only grab their attention – you’ll hold it, which will lead to profitable results across that audience segment.

2. Keep Your Messaging, Copy, and Content Consistent

Besides being representative of a segment of your target audience, your persona is also a tool to use in your copy and content.

When you create a persona, you create a person to write for – someone you can get to know intimately. You’re no longer writing to anonymous people, but to someone with preferences, needs, wants, and traits.

Much of writing is about the audience. Your persona will guide how you write so it’s more pointed and powerful for the exact right people.

Plus, personas are tools you can use for your business at every level to make sure your entire team is referencing and addressing the same targets.

3. Waste Zero Time on Non-Prospects

When you create a targeted audience persona, you weed out the people in your audience who don’t need what you’re selling or won’t buy from you.

These people may be interested, but there’s no urgency in it. Here’s how HubSpot frames that conundrum:

“If only 1 out of 10 people in your target audience needs your solution, and 9 of them aren’t prospects, you’re wasting 90% of your time and resources.”

If you try to address your entire audience with the exact same message, it won’t be as effective for some as it is for others. This is because they’re at different stages of the buyer’s journey.

Creating personas that target specific types of people in your audience, and then creating messaging and content for each of them, eliminates this problem.

How to Build a Persona for Your Audience: Research, Compile Data, and Get Personal

Over and over, you’ll find that researching is the best way to approach building an audience persona.

Then you can compile what you find and distill it into one, two, or a few different personas that represent your audience segments.

Step One: Research Your Audience

For research, there are some wide-ranging options for gathering data about your targets:

  • Use Facebook Audience Insights

Facebook has a tool you can use to research your audience and build multiple personas, and you don’t need an advertising or business account to access it. (You just need a profile.)

You have two options in this tool: research using all of Facebook’s existing user base, or just research people who are connected to your account.

Moz recommends the former option just in case your account connections have been “dirtied” in some way (i.e. if you have paid for followers in the past, your connections might not be an accurate representation of your target audience).

After you choose which type of data to research, you can search various interests related to your industry and then narrow down the audience based on what you find.

For example, say you sell books in Missouri. You would enter that information to find out who you should be targeting. As you can see, 67% of people in Missouri with an interest in books and reading are women:

With this in mind, let’s narrow down our target audience to women only. Then we can look at demographics and stats for their household, like income and home ownership:

Now we have more information for our persona: She should be a woman who makes $50-75K and owns a home.

You can keep going into further detail from there as you browse the sections and continue to narrow down this woman’s traits. Check out this guide from Moz for a deeper how-to.

  • Create Surveys

Find out more demographic information about your audience with surveys. A simple survey can tell you exactly where your audience lives, their income, their education, family size, age, job industry and title, and more.

Tools like SurveyMonkey are perfect for the job. You can create your own surveys for free and distribute them yourself, or you can pay to use SurveyMonkey Audience to collect data from a pre-qualified target audience with attributes you select.

  • Chat 1-on-1 with Customers

Don’t forget to go back to basics. Just take some time to have a chat with your customers to find out their preferences, interests, behaviors, and demographics.

This can be as easy as commenting on social media, or you can get more formal and request to do an interview through email, Skype, or over coffee.

  • Talk to Your Sales Team for Insights

Your sales team is out there in the trenches, talking to customers day-in and day-out. They will have plenty of insights about them and can share what they’ve learned from these crucial sales interactions.

  • Review Analytics

Review data on your website about consumption, like page views, open rates for emails and newsletters, downloads, click-throughs, and bounce rates. This information can give you valuable insights into your audience’s preferences and needs.

Step Two: Compile the Data

Once you’ve researched and gathered enough data, it’s time to sort and compile it into trends you see happening.

When you see that a large section of your audience possesses certain traits or demographics, you can add those to your persona profile.

Eventually, you should end up with a list of common attributes among a segment of your audience.

Step Three: Get Creative

Here’s the creative part of building an audience persona. It’s time to take that compiled data and turn it into a profile of your ideal buyer.

Content Marketing Institute recommends giving your persona a name and a picture. This helps you and your team imagine this fictitious person better and think of them as a real person.

Ideally, you should turn your persona into a shareable asset you can pass around to various departments or team members in your company.

Most businesses create a profile card of their persona with a quick run-down of that buyer’s name, demographics, preferences, and habits.

Persona example via Buffer

Video game enthusiasts will note how much the resulting profile looks like a character card, which gives you an overview of a character’s strengths and weaknesses.

Don’t be afraid to get creative and detailed with personas. Your writers, content creators, and other team members will be more inspired if it’s engaging and helps them use their imaginations.

Your Brand Audience Persona Is a Valuable Tool

Ultimately, the benefits you receive from creating an audience persona will make the effort worth it.

Your entire team can use the persona to help them craft consistent, pointed, targeted content that truly speaks to your ideal buyer.

Keep one handy for reference, and don’t forget to update it periodically to reflect your changing audience and business needs.

If you need help creating content that resonates with your target audience, our team of expert writers can help! Learn more about our available services in the Content Shop.

CTA strategic ROI content

We're hiring writers and editors!Apply Now