Getting to the heart of your audience with personas

Vivian Swertinski

Raise your hand if you’ve been challenged with a goal to acquire new constituents, improve engagement metrics or increase retention rates. I know I can’t see you, but I’m guessing that you had your hand raised!

What is it that makes these goals challenging? Most associations say that communicating value and benefits is their biggest challenge to growing membership, yet so much time and effort goes into creating marketing messages. We want our audience to understand that they are at the center of what we do.  We want our communications to stir up an emotional connection. We want to invoke an action. Why is this so hard to do?

I know what the problem is. We want an action that involves the heart but we haven’t invested in knowing our audience at the heart level. It’s true.  Communicating at the acquaintance level limits our ability to effectively nurture and develop long lasting relationships. It also hinders us from telling our story in a way that moves the audience emotionally.

In our personal life we rarely stay at the acquaintance level, unless of course it’s someone that we don’t want to have a long-term relationship with. In our business life we absolutely want to have long-term relationships with our constituents, so we need to invest in knowing them at a much deeper level.

Creating personas is the vehicle to take our relationships to a deeper more intimate level. You may have heard about personas and are considering them but haven’t made them a top priority yet. Let me encourage you by saying that this could be the game changer for your communication strategy and marketing effectiveness.

I’m sure you have access to a lot of data and facts about your audience.  I call that information “head knowledge.” Head knowledge is essential and important, but by itself it will keep us at the acquaintance stage of our relationship. If we are tasked with growing our organizations through acquisition and audience retention then we need to understand the heart of our audience.

Below is a sampling of questions that look beyond statistics and look into the motives, desires, and needs of our audience. This will help define your “heart knowledge.”

  • What brings someone to your organization? What are they looking for?
  • What are they considering as they decide whether to engage with you or not?
  • What are their expectations?
  • What do they value?
  • What pain points or frustrations do they have that impacts their engagement?
  • What experiences have contributed or impacted their position?
  • What is needed for them to become a brand advocate or reference for you?

Understanding your audience through personas is the single most important step you can take in impacting the growth of your organization.

For more information on how the head and heart knowledge works with persona creation, get your free copy of Defining your Target Audience with Personas today.

Defining your Target Audience with Personas

About the Author
Vivian Swertinski

As the Strategic Services Manager at Informz, Vivian partners with clients to maximize their digital marketing efforts with customized strategies leveraging the Informz marketing automation platform. Outside of work Vivian enjoys shopping, boating and volunteering her time to help disabled individuals in the community.