How to Create an Audience Persona

Kristin Lesko - September 30, 2015

Photo Credit: “Veterinarian” by Army Medicine, CC BY 2.0

Photo Credit: “Veterinarian” by Army Medicine, CC BY 2.0

Most businesses know the importance of defining their target audiences – and creating content to market to them. But what’s been trending lately is an increased interest in “audience personas” – the concept of creating one person (e.g. “Kat, the veterinarian”) who represents an entire group of people (veterinarians).

Why is this a worthwhile venture? Building audience personas puts you in a better position to fulfill your customers’ needs through your content. Follow these five simple steps to get started.

  1. Create a vision board. A great way to conceptualize an idea, vision boards can simply be made up of a collection of photos or words cut out from old magazines or newspapers. Consider tasking your content marketing team with the creation of this vision, which will help ensure everyone is on board (pun-intended) with the result.
  2. Define the characteristics of your target audience. Write out a list of questions to help you get to know your target audience on a deeper level. What do they do for a living? What’s their greatest motivator? How long do they leave leftovers in the fridge? The answers to these pressing questions, among others, will bring you one step closer to your audience’s true identity (or at least an understanding of how often they clean out their refrigerator).
  3. Give him or her a name. What’s a fictitious character without a name? Following his or her name, include one characteristic that best defines him or her. It could be a job role or a favorite hobby, such as “Victoria, the EVP” or “Frank, the football fanatic.”
  4. Choose a photo. Do you remember the game “Guess Who?” You’d secretly select one person from a board filled with illustrated characters, then your opponent would have to guess which character you chose by asking you questions such as, “Are you bald?” The same idea applies to audience personas. Define your audience’s age, gender, ethnicity, and any other defining physical attributes. Then, find a photo that aligns with those physicalities. This can also act as a guide to help your team choose the right photos for your content, featuring models that are relatable to your audience.
  5. Repeat for any secondary or tertiary target audiences. Many brands have more than one target audience. Defining a persona for each one can help your team better plan out its content creation. Consider creating a monthly editorial calendar, including a column titled “Audience Persona.” This can act as a quick visual to help your team readily see how much content is being created for each audience. It will also help your writers make the connection between the content they create and the people for which they’re writing it.

Now that you’ve created your very own audience persona, learn how to write content they’ll love in the post, “The Dos and Don’ts of Writing for Your Audience.”

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