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Content. It chokes every channel we market to. But how do the best pieces rise to the top? In a word: Targeting. When done sloppily, we get “everything for everyone” campaigns — generic, banal, middling pieces that are, at best, giggled at by a few sundry folks. When laser focused… we get content that appeals to our core audiences, and their evangelism brings on new eyes. Savvy?

In marketing — where every campaign aims to capture attention and ignite engagement — there’s a subtle yet formidable tool that often goes unnoticed. That being: persona building. It’s the mad science of dissecting your audience, understanding their needs, desires, and motivations, and crafting tailored strategies that resonate deeply in the content produced. Grab your beakers, vials, and Bunsen burners, we’re headed to the lab!

All Mad Science Begins With a Question… and a List or Two

Luckily, crafting a persona all begins with the same set of questions. It all comes down to peeling back the layers of your audience, uncovering their demographics, psychographics, and behaviors, and weaving them into vivid personas that represent real individuals with distinct personalities and preferences. Putting faces and stories to those who you want as customers.

At its core, persona building is about empathy—it’s about putting yourself in the shoes of your audience, seeing the world through their eyes, and understanding the challenges they face. By doing so, you gain invaluable insights that inform every aspect of your marketing strategy, from the tone of your messaging to the channels you utilize and the products or services you offer.

Now, Check Your List Against Reality

One of the most compelling aspects of persona building is its ability to humanize data. In a world inundated with analytics and metrics, personas breathe life into numbers, transforming abstract statistics into relatable stories. They allow marketers to connect with their audience on a deeper level, speaking directly to their needs and aspirations, and forging authentic relationships built on trust and understanding.

Beyond crunching the demographic data and drawing speculative conclusions, there’s a world of practical examples at your fingertips. Conducting surveys, interviews, and market research will help you gather firsthand insights into your audience’s preferences and pain points. It’s about identifying patterns and trends, recognizing commonalities and outliers, and distilling complex data into actionable personas that drive results.

Let’s Build Marketstein’s Monster

Start simply with a list. Demographics: Male or female. Age. Body Composition (if it matters). Income. Job title. Next, break down their would-be interests: Are they into sports? Are they family-friendly, or more adult in their choices? Do they like pets? Have any hobbies?

Next, it’s time to check your list versus reality. Look into available statistics. Conduct some field research. Utilize tools that help match your listed attributes to determine a) if there’s enough of a sample size for your company to now target with marketing and b) if location matters… that those meeting your criteria will have access to your product or service.

With those answers in hand, begin to weave the stories. How does that 42 year old man, who tolerates cats, loves science fiction, and works as a project manager, near any major city of 5M people or more… encounter your brand? Is it in traditional advertising channels? If online, are they more likely to see your brand on a social media site — perhaps tied to an influencer? Will they locate you through a niche search in Google? And then, what about those out of the box solutions? Well, they like cats and Star Trek. Perhaps an in-person event (“Scottish Folds for Scotty!”) might serve you well!

So, as you embark on your next marketing campaign, remember the power of persona building—the quiet yet formidable force that fuels your success. Invest in it, refine it, and let it guide your journey towards deeper understanding and greater impact. For in the intricate tapestry of personas lies the key to unlocking the hearts and minds of your audience, one targeted message at a time.