It doesn’t have to be a guessing game.
A few quick words about getting to know your targeted audience. Whether your organization has been around for a while or it’s a start-up, one of the oftentimes missed opportunities is to really dig in, identify and get to know your targeted audience or market.
In the communications business, this focus gravitates to the creation of the persona or avatar of your ideal stakeholder and targeted audience. This is usually a composite of the kind of person you are trying to reach through your marketing communications and PR programs.
There are many ways to go about this, depending on what you already know, the time and resources at hand, and the budget. If your organization has been around a long time, you can start simply by conducting an analysis of existing data and secondary research on your most important stakeholders. Why are they so important? Are they customers? Donors? Potential employees? Investors?
Talk to those who interface most often with your most important stakeholders. What do they know about the people most important to the organization? Their interests, concerns or pain points, trends, and information consumption habits.
Determine what are the characteristics that define the persona for this ideal individual. Do it by age, sex, occupation, education, location, income bracket, spending patterns and more, if possible. This research can be formal and informal.
A Communications Audit
In our work doing communications audits, one of the things that makes a big difference is having the client identify a cross-section of representative stakeholders. We then conduct interviews with the stakeholders to learn as much as possible about their perceptions, decision-making motivations, information and media consumption, and other relevant details.
In the end, we come away with a better understanding of how the organization is perceived among those who are most important to it, and we learn a lot about those stakeholders themselves. Depending on the nature of the research, we can then use that data to arrive at a more accurate persona of our targeted audience.
Of course, this isn’t the only way. Other means to learn more about key stakeholders and create personas include: surveys, secondary industry research and market data, trend data and news coverage analysis.
Ultimately, we want such a clear persona that we practically feel we know the individual. This composite provides a tangible way to help focus strategies, messaging, tactics and decide on the communications channels we will use to build stronger relationships with the people most important to the organization.
How would you describe your organization’s ideal persona for its most important stakeholders? Let me know.