Define Your Audience Persona
Who are you producing content for?
Think of some of the most well-known content creators and digital publishing brands - Gary Vaynerchuck, Kylie Jenner, Oprah, The New Yorker, Wired, Buzzfeed, and more. You can immediately picture in your mind who their readers, viewers, and listeners are, right? Their content consistently maps back to their audience persona.
Defining your audience persona is an essential step in running your digital magazine, publication, podcast, newsletter, or professional blog (or any business, quite frankly).
What is an Audience Persona?
An audience persona is the visualization and profile of a "person" representing your ideal audience.
How is it different from the target audience you already have in your marketing plan? Your target audience is much broader than your audience persona will be. When defining a target audience or target market, you're identifying a (typically) large group of people that share a set of demographics and behaviors.
When defining your audience persona, hone in on a specific person representing your ideal audience member; their demographics, behaviors, goals, challenges, interests, and more. An audience persona should be singular. We're thinking of one distinct person, what they think, and how they feel.
Why is Developing an Audience Persona Important?
1) Develop Better Content
Your audience persona is your "north star" for developing content. It will help you stay focused. You can reference your persona when brainstorming new content topics. Ask yourself, "would this content resonate with this person?" You'll know when to move forward with an idea or make adjustmets to appeal to your audience.
When you know your audience, it's easier to determine the best way to monetize your online presence. Suppose you're considering working with brand partners on sponsored content or other promotions. In that case, you can identify which brands are a good fit and what types of branded content would best serve your audience.
Perhaps you're monetizing with affiliate links, e-commerce, or selling digital products. Again, you can ask yourself "would this person be interested in...xyz?" You'll have a better gauge of what will be most effective with your audience.
How to Create a Persona
Creating your audience persona can be as simple or as detailed as you need. It's not something that you should feel immense pressure to "get right." It's a tool for you to reference in moving your online strategy forward.
So, don't stress about it! The audience persona exercise will provide clarity, and you can always make adjustments along the way.
Here's an easy framework to help you get started.
We recommend starting with a whiteboard or blank sheet of paper. Just start brainstorming!
An important note: When you start defining the characterstics of this person, it may feel like you are excluding some of the traits of other audience members. You'll start to think, "Well, some of my audience cares about these "other things." Resist the urge to spend too much time in that space.
The goal here is to understand the people who most deeply resonate with your brand and your content so you can improve your strategies for content, distribution, promotion, and monetization.
Existing Audience Members
If you already have readers, listeners, or viewers, you can start by studying your most loyal audience members. What common characteristics do they possess? Can you ask them questions via your content, social media channels, or by doing direct interviews? You'll learn a lot by talking to the people who are already engaging with your brand. This information will help you to craft a better audience persona.
If you are starting, don't worry about not having this information. It's still a good idea to develop your "ideal audience member" to have a clear picture of whom you are creating content for.
Give the Persona Name
A name helps give our persona specificity and a personality.
Start with the Demographics
Make a bulleted list to include age, gender, income level, education, family status, and location.
Behaviors, Challenges, and Needs
Think through your audience's challenges, goals, values, habits, other media they consume, and anything else you know or believe to be true about this "person."
Write Out a Story
In software development, product teams create user stories to help them understand their customers' needs and how to build features to suit those needs.
It's equally applicable when we're talking about creating content and online experiences for our audience.
Start with "As a < type of person >, I want < some goal > so that < some reason >."
Giving your audience persona a story will help you deep-dive into how they think and into their real needs. Gain an advantage by making your content so perfect for them that yours stands out from other media they consume. Your brand and publication can become a destination for them - they'll be more likely to visit often, subscribe, and engage.
Moreover, when you've got an engaged audience, monetizing your efforts becomes a whole lot easier!
Here's an example of an audience persona for a local event and entertainment site called Billings365.com. You can make yours as detailed as you like!
Your audience persona serves as the first building block in developing all of your other content strategies. It will help you determine your content themes and topics, formats, and proper distribution channels.
Download the Audience Persona Template
Define your strategy, stay focused, and deliver a consistent experience for your audience by defining your audience persona and referencing it regularly.
Get a copy of our simple audience persona template by filling in your info below.
If you have any questions about developing your own audience persona, reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.