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Why most audience profiles are useless

Updated: Jan 21, 2021

I don't mean they are of no use at all. I mean they are so full of useless information that many marketers choose not to use them at all. Steven, a 32 yr old male, probably does like watching sport, going to the gym and hanging out with his mates at the weekend. What I’m saying is that sort of unhelpful nonsense can go on for pages and pages and can waste precious time.

The most important part of creating useful, usable and effective customer personas is in the source and collection of data and, most importantly, in the editing. Simply knowing what’s important and what isn’t, what adds insight and what doesn’t.

A pointless exercise

I’ve seen one pager persona’s which tell you nothing of any substance about the buyer.

They are missing any real insights or needs and are based on perceptions.

On the other hand, I’ve been given documents running into hundreds of pages and costing tens of thousands of dollars that would take up the entire time allocated to the project just to read. Let’s be honest, even the most fastidious marketing director wouldn’t read them all. And if anyone has, I’ll show you the most bored person in lockdown.

Why does this happen? From my experience, it can be several reasons, from needing to get a campaign out quickly, to being put off by the process or the expense of research.

However, understanding who you are targeting, their motivations and challenges are key to creating a strong value proposition and a campaign that resonates.

A simple dashboard of what you need

The first place to start is your current data. Google Analytics, CRM systems and social listening platforms will uncover some key insights around your current customers. However, for new brands, products and newer segments, it's worth delving into research.

At Switch, we work with research partners, use effective tools and often conduct our own interviews with existing and potential customers to create a digital dashboard for personas. We ask them about their challenges, what they’re ideally looking for, why they buy from you, what sources they use, what consumer brands they associate themselves with and who they consider the competition, so that we don’t just presume from the tenders they participate in. We then use our intuition to ask ourselves, does this stack up and feel right.

With all this data in place, we create a digital persona dashboard that contains easy to view snapshots of the core information you need to create marketing campaigns – competitor overview, audience goals, needs and motivations, attribute assessment, media consumption, perceptions and challenges.

A quick look and you immediately understand where your brand sits within this person’s thoughts, what they want and need, their key concerns and ultimately how to appeal to them in a rational and emotional way that will lead to action.

Be fast and iterative

Today, research doesn’t have to take ages or be expensive. There are some interesting online survey tools available which enables meaningful persona creation quickly. These platforms allow brands and agencies to test campaign messaging, which can be all important for a new product or category launch.

Audience profiling is just one of five modular stages of the Campaign Accelerator that can be adapted to your business needs. You can read about them all in our series of short blogs. Or contact us and we can chat about how the Campaign Accelerator can help you get to market much, much more quickly.

Five things to take away

Utilise your current data sources such as Google Analytics, CRM and social listening platforms.

Don't be put off by research. Use surveys or interviews and collate the data using online platforms such as Flex MR and Survey Monkey.

Find out what media your audience consumes on a multichannel basis. Build a picture to inform the customer journey.

If possible, test communication messages as well as pain points and motivations in the market place. It will give you a clear idea on what your audience is looking for.

When complete, use your intuition. If it feels right, it probably is.

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