Studio Ostendo operates in multiple creative fields including photography, design, and education.
There’s no question that defining your audience is one of the most challenging parts of building a strong marketing strategy. But this work is crucial to deliver the right message, to the right people, at the right time. Unfortunately, one of the most common mistakes businesses make is thinking about their audience as one single set of personas. In actuality, your audience ecosystem includes two key groups: your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) and your target personas.
When you distinguish and analyze each group individually, you make your messaging more impactful, your content more convincing, and your story resonates at every level—no matter who you’re talking to.
So, to help you work more effectively, today we’re diving into ICPs and target personas to break down the differences, show you how to document both in your content strategy, and offer ideas to use each to transform your marketing.
Target brand personas define the specific people you're going to target, such as the key decision makers, mothers of young kids, or labor workers with a night shift.
Personas document those individuals' needs and wants to help you understand their mindset and how to position your brand effectively. The better you understand their unique motivators, fears, and pain points, the more effectively you can tailor personalized and emotionally driven brand messaging to them. For example, your brand messaging might look different for a 22-year-old female nursing student compared to a 63-year-old optometrist who loves fly fishing (ie. my dad).
The internet is awash with guides on how to create effective brand personas. While each guide has its own value, we believe that effective brand personas are characterized by four essential elements:
Good brand personas require extensive research. Even if you think you know everything about your target audience, going to the source is the only way to get the facts straight.
Brand personas only work if you’re creating people who could actually exist and that you would know in the world. Oftentimes, it can be useful to think of someone you know when developing your personas. By creating relatable and knowable personas, you’re more likely to succeed in your brand and marketing efforts when you target your personas.
While it's important to gather comprehensive data about your audience, it's easy to become overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information. In the past, we've fallen into the trap of including every little detail about our audience, such as their podcast preferences or the names of their pets. However, these details are not particularly useful for understanding their core needs and how to address them. Be sure to balance what makes them knowable with keeping them succinct.
One piece of paper is a good goal.
Creating brand personas requires a lot of work, which means it’s a shame for them to go to waste. This is why brevity and clarity are key. By creating clear, concise, and focused brand personas, you can integrate them into your day-to-day content strategy with ease.
With these four elements in mind, we have simplified our process and template to help you create brand personas that are practical and relevant to your business.
You can come up with the best branding ideas, and you can create the best content of all time, but if nobody sees it, it isn’t effective. Successful branding is all about meeting your potential customer where they are. When you know what platforms your brand personas use and what type of content they like to consume, you can…
No one likes to waste time or money. Building a distribution strategy around your brand personas’ most popular platforms ensures you’re putting your energy in the right places, which ultimately improves your ROI.
We wish branding was a one-size-fits-all approach, but it’s not. The better you can tailor your content—both in subject matter and format–the easier it will be to grab and keep people’s attention.
When you know what platforms your brand personas prefer, you can tell a consistent story across those platforms to build a stronger relationship and (hopefully) convert people more easily.
In short, knowing where your brand personas “live” ensures the branding work you do will actually pay off.
To create personas, you need to document the key attributes relevant to the individual, such as:
Pro-Tip: Download our free personas template, and follow our step-by-step guide to create personas that work!
Now that you have created your brand personas, it's time to use them to develop things like your brand messaging, content strategy, and social media strategy.
Ensure that your content provides something valuable to your audience, whether it's inspirational, educational, or entertaining. If you can't determine which persona a piece of content is for and why they would be interested in it, it's unlikely to be effective. For additional ideas, explore empathetic content marketing and use these prompts to generate strong content concepts.
Use this brand messaging framework to help you weave a coherent story that resonates with your brand personas.
Be sure to monitor the appropriate metrics for your content strategy to determine if the stories you're telling resonate with your audience. You can always update and refine your personas as you learn more about each person and find what best connects.
Tip: Once you have your value propositions and messaging matrix completed, look for ways to brainstorm unique campaigns to target each group. You can start with our comprehensive guide to creating impactful brand campaigns.
Most importantly, remember that B2B marketing is an ever-evolving practice. While developing brand personas is a crucial part of your brand and content strategy, this is not a one-and-done process. Re-evaluate your brand personas every six months based on marketing and sales performance. It is also essential to involve your sales and product teams in the development of personas since this directly impacts their work. Although it may seem inconvenient, investing in your strategy upfront will yield better results in the long run.
If you are still struggling to achieve the desired results, consider bringing in expert help. If you are searching for the right partner, check out our tips to find an agency, peruse our case studies, or contact us directly.