Researching and Developing Audience Personas
How do you go about finding your audience?
You do this by building out an audience persona. What’s a persona? A persona is a representation of your IDEAL reader/fan/customer.
Why do I need to build out persona(s)?
Well, you likely have (or are working on) a great business/website, product or service, but your content won’t reach the right people unless you know your audience.
I often hear, “I have this fun marketing campaign planned to let others know about my business, and I can’t wait to launch it.”
While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with being enthusiastic about your business–you should be excited!– you first need to have a clear idea of WHO you are marketing to.
Think of it like putting together a meal for a group of people you don’t know well. You wouldn’t just throw something together, and hope that everyone enjoys it. Before you start cooking, think about the basics. What are people’s tastes like? What can you offer them that they care to eat? How will you find out what people care about?
How to identify your audience members
To help you get started, I created an easy-to-use persona map. In this document, you’ll see a sample persona map, and a blank one that you can fill out or recreate.
Psst…want my “Persona Builder map worksheet”? It’s a free download. Click below to download the audience persona map and customize your own.
Create multiple persona maps. You may end up with more than one persona for your business/website, and that’s fine. Your business/website can definitely be a good fit for different people, so feel free to create multiple persona maps.
Look at competitors. A great way to get a better idea about your potential prospects/audience is to look at what your competitors are doing. Look at the interactions they have with their audience, read reviews, and even see what they’re posting and how it’s engaging people.
What if I already have an audience or existing customers?
That’s great! It doesn’t hurt to ask your current audience members for feedback on what they want to learn/read more about. You can assess that by asking a question on social media, or sending a short survey to current email subscribers. Mention that you’re looking into better ways to serve their needs, and would love their opinions in a short survey.
Use Survey Monkey, Google Forms, or Typeform to create surveys.
Other sample questions to consider (adjust specific to your niche):
1. How do your audience members search for information online, and what their main sources of information are (news sites, blogs, Google searches, friend recommendations, etc.)?
2. Sourcing content ideas: simply ask your audience what they would be interested in learning more about.
3. Ask about events/conferences your audience attends, and why they go to these events.
4. Ask about your audience’s pain points or challenges. For example, if you blog about personal finance, see if there are specific areas that your audience wants to learn more about (saving for retirement through an IRA, how to maximize savings in daily life, saving on travel, etc.)
5. How your audience shops for products or services online? How do they learn about new businesses?
6. What social media networks are they active on, and why these ones specifically?
Have you used persona maps before? If not, what are you excited to learn about your audience?