Know your Audience: Steps to Create a Target Audience Persona

Posted Feb 20th, 2019 in Strategic Communications, Digital Marketing, Content Marketing

Know your Audience: Steps to Create a Target Audience Persona

When it comes to promoting your business, it is essential to know your ‘target audience’ - who they are, how do they think, and their location.

While reaching as many people as possible is important, reaching the people who are most interested in your product or service will get the highest return on investment. Before deciding on marketing tactics to implement, first spend time understanding your audience, and then create ‘Buyer Personas’ to reference when developing your marketing strategies, including your digital marketing strategy, which includes your plan for developing content and social media engagement. 

The first step to understanding your audience, is to know who are your key stakeholders.


How do you know who are your stakeholders?

Stakeholders are people or groups, both internal and external, that play a part in the success of your business. What they know, feel, and do has an impact on the organization and vice versa.  They do not necessarily play a part in the decision making of a business. Create a list of the groups, and then create branches from each of these groups to name the organizations and people within the group.  Some groups may have a connection.   The stakeholder map offers a visual display of who the stakeholders are and how they are connected. For example, customers can be broken out into statuses, such as current and future, and, or segments. For a more visual display, create the size of the circle to reflect the impact on your organization.  These stakeholders may change as your business develops, so ensure you update as needed.

Stakeholder Map L Dunkley Blog

How do you know what stakeholders to target?  You need to identify who are your key stakeholders.

Using the stakeholder analysis matrix, place each group/individual into the quadrant that reflects the importance and influence of each stakeholder to your organization, which will help inform when and how you communicate with them.

The key players will typically be the group where you spend most of your communication/marketing efforts.  However, if you want to expand your market reach, these groups may be in the ‘Meet your Needs’ quadrant.  If there is a crisis, the people that are least important may become more influential moving them up from ‘Least Important’ to ‘Meet their Needs’.   Refer to this matrix when starting any new campaign and update it regularly.

Stakeholder Matrix L Dunkley Blog


What do you include in your target audience persona?

For each target audience, include information, such as;

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Live
  • Work
  • Children
  • Entertainment
  • Income
  • Personality Type
  • Attitudes
  • Values
  • Interests / Hobbies
  • Lifestyles
  • Behaviours – buying habits, etc.

Guiding questions for more information

When developing your target audience personas, reference the questions below to help understand the details of who they are and how to reach them to inform marketing messaging, materials and channels.
  1. What needs, frustrations/challenges do they have? Such as health, mobility, language, technology, location 
  2. What drives them to make purchasing decisions? Who/What influences them? What obstacles might be in their way?  What keeps them from purchasing?  Where do they get stuck in the buying process?  
  3. How does your idea, service, or product help them? What problem does it solve? How does it make their lives easier? Better? What would motivate them to pay for it?
  4. Are they currently users of a similar product / service? Competition, similar / exactly the same? What challenges or preferences do they have for the competition?
  5. Why would they choose your product/ service over your competition? What is your unique selling proposition? 
  6. What media do they use? How do they gather information? How much time do they spend on each media channel?  Digital or Paper?  How often do they get their information?
  7. What is the action you would like them to take? Buy, Donate, Volunteer, Be an Ambassador
  8. Is there a secondary audience to consider?  Why? When?


How do you find the information about your target audiences? 

When researching your business, it is good to have a mix of qualitative and quantitative research.  Take into consideration what you can learn about your target audience when doing this research.

Qualitative Research is the type of information that will help develop an understanding of underlying reasons, opinions, and motivations for your target audience.  It provides insights into the problem or helps to create ideas that can be used to interpret or give context to some of the quantitative research. Qualitative Research can be used to uncover trends in thought and opinions and dig deeper into some of the problems or challenges that your audience faces.

Quantitative Research is the gathering of measurable, typically numerical, information that can be used to develop useful statistics.  For example, the information collected using website analytics to show how many people from what country are visiting your website and what pages do they find interesting.  Quantitative results help to identify patterns of attitudes, opinions, behaviours, and other defined parameters.


A primary research is original research that comes directly from the source.

  • Focus groups
  • Interviews
  • Surveys
  • Feedback from internal teams (e.g. sales team, customer service)


Secondary research is gathered from a source that may offer second-hand information or it was previously gathered in another way and then used here for analysis.

  • Owned channel analytics (Google Analytics, Social Media platform analytics, Email Campaign analytics)
  • Sales Data
  • Online Forums (e.g. Reddit, Quora)
  • Social media research
  • Keyword research
  • Google Trends
  • Research / Insights / Best Practices [articles from subject matter experts]
  • Social Tools (e.g. BuzzSumo, Social Mention)

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