As a human, I love to struggle with the balance of my urge to categorize people with the knowledge that people are all unique. While it can sometimes feel presumptuous, creating categories can actually help you be more personalized when you reach out to people through your marketing.
Demographics can help with some categorization – age, income, location – to determine who your target audience is. But do those things actually correlate with what action someone takes? It might a bit, lumping millennials or high-income earners together might indicate general behaviors, but it does not tell you what motivates each group and they certainly do not act as a whole.
This is where understanding your target audience beyond demographics comes in. What do they love about your organization? What motivates them to join or visit? I doubt your target audience has one cohesive motivation, so you need to discover and define the patterns of motivation within.
For example, a house museum client of mine wanted to know how to reach out and grow their audience. By having in-depth conversations with a variety of their current visitors, they revealed several patterns of excitement as they visited. Some people were process-driven and enjoyed learning about the preservation of the authentic artifacts. Others were house museum history buffs that thrived experiencing the time period by entering the super authentic spaces. And some were people-people, wanting to learn about the time period through the unique stories of the family and architect that created the house. When we started to categorize these different motivators, we could better get to know what motivated categories of the target audiences and turn them into personas; detailed, compiled traits that tell the story of a hypothetical person.
Above is an example of what one persona for this museum might look like (I mocked up these simple examples for confidentiality) vs. just demographic information. Which is closer to what you use to define your target currently? Which helps you better think about what motivates your audience?
Creating this level of detail helps to humanize those you are reaching out to and can be honed in as you get to know your audience better over time. Personas can help your team get on the same page about who and how you are reaching people. They can also help you create ideas for how to reach out to a new audience.
Want to know more about personas can help you better connect with your audience? Send me your questions at email@example.com