Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Targeting With Personas Part I

Marketers routinely define intended audiences and craft messages tailored for those specific target markets. Social media has introduced a whole new set of powerful tools. It is now possible to easily locate where your target market hangs out on the social web and understand what they do there. As consequence, the most promising audiences (those with the need, interest, and means to purchase your product or service) are being saturated with messages. Your competitors ARE marketing to them, regardless of your industry.

The Challenge
Traditionally, marketers have focused almost exclusively on these prime target markets and for good reason—they are the folks most likely to buy your product or service. Breaking through the “clutter” to reach these optimal audiences presents are a real challenge for start-ups, small companies, and enterprises alike. There are always competitors with larger social media teams, better strategies, and more resources to spend on prime target audiences.

Naturally, primary target markets should remain a priority. But, when the risk of having your message lost in the crowd is significant, it is wise to also consider an alternative destination. The path less travelled. Like the wayfarer that encounters heavy traffic and chooses a desirable secondary endpoint instead, a marketer faced with overwhelming competition for a primary target market may find it efficacious to select a secondary target market. Although secondary target audiences are not optimal, they can still be quite lucrative. Less competition means more market share opportunities.

However, reaching any audience on the social web requires a high degree of precision. With traditional advertising, it was possible to take a broad approach. It was acceptable to share product information with everyone. In online communities, this practice is known as spamming. If you send the same message out through all of your social media properties, without consideration of the audience that participate on each platform, you will be deemed a spammer. Messages sent through social media have to be finely honed. These messages also need to be sent through the appropriate social platform or they risk being ignored completely. Worse yet, you risk having future messages being automatically ignored. Why risk your reputation? Avoid being seen as inconsiderate by tailoring your messaging.

The Solution

How can marketers reach secondary target markets and avoid being ignored? The answer is three-fold: (1) define the consumer landscape (target audience) in terms of personas, (2) determine the platforms where your intended audience participate, and (3) create tailored messages. To accomplish these tasks, it is necessary to define a few key terms:

  1. Persona – According to Ian Lurie, in his book Conversation Marketing: Internet Marketing Strategies, a typical persona definition includes:
  • Demographics of the Persona: Average age, level of Internet expertise, and spending habits.
  • Constraints: A persona’s technological limitations (type of Internet connection), a language barrier, or even vision impairment.
  • Needs and Wants: What are the challenges facing this persona? What solutions do you offer that will turn this persona into a real-life customer?
  1. Optimal Target Audience – Personas with a need, the means, and interest make up the optimal target audience.
  2. Secondary Optimal Target Audience – Personas missing one of the three attributes (need, means, interest) are the secondary optimal target audience. As an example, a persona that is a member of the secondary optimal target audience might have the need and interest in your offering but lacks the means to purchase it.
Fortunately, many marketers may prematurely write off secondary target audiences, which provide a golden opportunity for the smart marketer to tap these overlooked customers.

In the next post (July 5), I will cover an example of how to use this venn diagram.


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