Blog | Customer Personas: Getting Under The Customer’s Skin

11th August 2017

We’re a few months away from 2018 and some agencies out there (I will not name and shame) still plan their campaigns without having a clear understanding of who their target audience is.  I have noticed this so many times throughout my career and some agencies are guilty of planning campaigns without really thinking of who they are speaking to.

Never Assume Who Your Audience Is

There are a lot of assumptions on who they think the audience is but also who the client think the target audience is. In my opinion this can only lead one thing. Disaster. Ok, maybe not quite a disaster but most certainly a campaign that won’t be as effective as it could have been and therefore budgets not spent efficiently.

It feels to me, from experience, that it is absolutely not a luxury but a necessity to do this work before you can even plan a campaign.

dont assume your audience - do market research!

I’m not sure that this is down to lack of time or overseeing this as a minor detail, because some people are used to working in silos, given a budget and plan from there. There is actually more to that and it sometimes feel as a battle to educate both agencies and clients in gaining this crucial insight that is going to make a difference in what we’re trying to achieve.

Having a better understanding of who you’re targeting is so powerful as you get a greater insight of how all the pieces of the jigsaw fit in together.

So before even considering looking at estimated results and rushing to get back to your spreadsheet, it is crucial to get under the skin of this customer because we know that they will behave and respond differently to the way to try to reach and engage with them.  Creating a persona is a good baseline to increase significantly your ability to communicate effectively. 

In a recent study published by Mintel, it showed that, overall, 54% of ad impressions were delivered to the audience they were meant for. I’d be pretty annoyed if this was my money being spent like that.

Our Strategy For Getting It Right

So, here at Project Octo, when we produce our strategy, we do things thoroughly. When onboarding new clients, we do make a point in researching and carefully understanding the target audience insight before we start any activity. This will involve amongst other things meeting with a varied selection of stakeholders at our clients office, and meet the teams responsible in moving the business forward.

Most of the time, we realise that business owners have a very specific idea of who their audience is. Sadly this isn’t always translated onto their website, where a great disparity is often observed. There are so many poorly conceived websites out there that are completely missing out relevant content. This is also a real shame as this material, if researched correctly, can help increase the organic rankings on relevant search terms in Google.

The first step to create a customer persona and get under the skin of a target audience is to use all the tools available to map out how the audience behaves, and statements on their media consumption. Then this will give you not only a clear indication on how to target them through paid and earned media but it will also dictate how you should be talking to them on your website.

This process will also allow you to identify the audience’s their unique goals and most important features.

In addition to the usual tools available and also expertise acquired over the years, there are also interesting ways to research on the audience and push this a little bit further which is called ‘Method Madness’. where you get a close as you can to your customers by almost becoming like them.

Understand what are the barriers that stop them from purchasing your products but also understand how your brand is perceived. This can really be an eye opener and shake perceptions which will sometimes require a business to re-think their assumptions.  

These are just some of the few tools available out there to define an audience, and there is no process that is set in stone to get to this, but the key takeaway is that getting under the skin of your customer is vital. It will not only help teams internally but you will get the best outcomes for your client.

You can learn more about Project Octo’s Marketing Services here.

Adam Pritchard

Founder of this agency and Shopit, Adam has nearly 20 years of digital experience, from the days of getting 3M and Pioneer UK web-friendly, to leading project teams on development and marketing projects for the likes of Tesco, Royal College of Nursing and National Tyres. Secretary of junior football club Winton Wanderers, most of the weekend is spent coaching kids, or reading the Sunday papers with coffee and cake.