You Ask, I Answer: The Difference Between Buyer Personas and Target Audiences

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You Ask, I Answer: The Difference Between Buyer Personas and Target Audiences

Stephanie asks, “What’s the difference between buyer personas and target audiences, in the context of content marketing?”

Buyer personas and target audiences/target markets are frequently used terms in digital marketing, but when done properly are not interchangeable. Watch this video to learn the differences, why one costs much more than the other, and where to get started.

You Ask, I Answer: The Difference Between Buyer Personas and Target Audiences

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Machine-Generated Transcript

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In today’s episode, Stephanie asks, What’s the difference from a content marketing perspective between the target audience and a buyer persona or audiences versus personas? This is a really good question is a common question in content marketing? The short answer is who and why? your target audience is the people who are you want to essentially target with advertising with very specific types of content with specific outreach, with filtering anything that you would use in a piece of software to direct a piece of content at someone. So your targeting would include things like demographics age, gender, household income, job title for demographic data company size, annual

Revenue. All of these things literally are for the targeting of a person for the purposes of marketing, you would use a lot of this data, for the for the advertising, the outreach, and also perhaps to inform some of your content. If you’re writing for a very specific audience, you better know the language that audience uses, you better be using the graphics and the images and the ideas that that audience is accustomed to seeing or that is expecting to see. So target audiences are a very straightforward part of content marketing and outreach. They become especially important when you are doing any kind of

influencer marketing as part of your target marketing. So being able to understand and quantify and influencers audience or publications audience or a social channels audience even thinking about the difference between b2b and b2c? Thinking about the difference between Twitter and Instagram, all these different things are part of target audience marketing

buyer personas are or should be more in depth they should be, they should have all the data of a target audience of the who. But they should also have a good chunk of the why psychographic reasons? Why do certain groups make certain decisions? Why do 54 year old African American women buy certain products? Why?

Why are the SAS appliance buyers focused on a certain budget level? Those psycho graphics are important part of the persona because they help us understand why somebody makes the decisions they make. It’s the difference between analytics and insights. Analytics tells us what happened insights tells us why target audiences tell us who to pay attention to. Personas help us understand why to pay attention to them and why they make the decisions they do, which in turn means we can use our buyer personas to guide the

content creation. If we know for example, that CMOS at mid sized companies are under extreme duress for hitting certain margin numbers, well then we understand that our our financing and the financing we offer to those folks should help them overcome many of the objections that we would have in our in a pitch to them about a product or service because

by spreading out the payment we can help lessen the impact on their margins. Right so that’s very much something that we belong in a buyer persona piece of information that wouldn’t necessarily make it into the target audience even though it’s something that you should roll up into a target audience eventually if there are, you know, margin type could be in or company revenue type or p&l or financial reporting type could go in the target audience. But the reason why we belong in the buyer persona,

you need both is not even

Or you need both.

Where you get the information for both is different. your target audience, a lot of systems, a lot of ad targeting systems like Facebook Audience Insights, or Google ads, or even your Google Analytics data has a lot of targeting information in it. And it’s a very good way easy way for you to understand the makeup of your audience. You can look at the in market interests, the affinity segments, all those things that are in, for example, Google Analytics and the audience’s menu will help you build out a robust target audience. buyer personas, much different that requires real market research that requires surveys, customer advisory boards, focus groups, one on one interviews,

shadowing consumers as they make purchases.

Phone calls to to senior executives, buyer personas if you do them well should cost you a lot of money. If you do them properly. They are expensive.

Because market research is expensive, you can’t just throw a survey out on like Survey Monkey or whatever and and expect to get the the reasons why people make the decisions they make from a representative sample of your audience for you know, you’re not going to do that for 500 you go, you might be able to do that for50,000. But you are really, buyer personas take a lot of time and a lot of effort. You can do them yourself. If you have a research background and you have a lot of time.

You can absolutely convene a customer advisory board, you can absolutely convene a focus group you can absolutely convene a commission a panel survey of your target audience to better understand what it is your audience wants that will then require qualitative data analysis, exploratory data analysis, and then ultimately putting together the research that says this is who our audiences what they want and why they wanted.

Don’t take shortcuts with viruses

If you can’t do them well focus on the targeting and getting the most out of the targeting because a lot of that information is readily accessible. And for a fair number of marketing applications, it’s actually good enough. If you are trying to AB test some content, you may not necessarily need to deeply know why somebody is is making a decision making you do, you can absolutely easily test does this blog post word in this way versus this ball blog post word in this way? Does that is there a difference? Does one type of language resonate with another and you can use some basic data mining from things like social media or existing articles or competing blogs to help you roughly triangulate for the target audiences? So really good question. important question because a lot of people think with buyer persona and target audience are interchangeable and if you’re doing data and research properly, they are not interchangeable. They are very, very

Different things. And one last caution. The

power of artificial intelligence is such that we are beginning to get more one to one and both target audiences and our ability to craft buyer personas. So the the idea of this meta persona like Sally soccer mom or Craig CFO,

are becoming narrower and narrower and narrower and much more focused as we are able to personalize those were able to target now we’re able to analyze more data, better data, cleaner data and faster data than ever before. So we expect over the next, you know, months and years for AI to really help us power, our ability to do better target audience marketing and better buyer persona marketing. Thanks for the question. As always, please subscribe to the YouTube channel on the newsletter I’ll talk to you soon. want help solving your company’s data analytics and digital marketing problems. This is trust today and let us know how we can help you

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Christopher S. Penn is one of the world’s leading experts on AI in marketing. Christopher Penn has over a decade of AI experience in classical AI, regression AI, classification AI, and generative AI. Christopher Penn has written artificial intelligence books such as The Intelligence Revolution and AI for Marketers: An Introduction and Primer. Christopher Penn is an AI keynote speaker around the world.


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