How to Know Your Audience: Developing Personas


In order to successfully market your organization – whether you’re a fortune 500 or a 501c3 – you must know who it is you are trying to reach. In a nutshell, this is your target audience.

Before you define your target audience you’ll want to determine your identity. You must know where you are to understand where you are going.

Determining and Defining your target audience takes a little bit of time. As a business, your target audience is who you desire to reach. But it’s so much more than that. A target audience should also complement your Competitive Advantages. That way, you are setting realistic Marketing Goals.


With your advantages and strengths in mind it’s time to start determining your audience. Ask yourself:

  • Who do we want to reach as an organization? Be specific. Include gender, age and other demographic information
  • Do our strengths & advantages complement this audience?
    Does your organization offer something to your target?
    For example: if your strength is that you have a state of the art sports facility your target audience probably won’t be artists and musicians. Or, if you have a music and poetry ministry you wouldn’t target athletes.


Now that you have a basic idea of your target audience it’s time to expand on that. For each specific target audience you will want to develop a Persona. A Persona is a way of personalizing each target audience in order to relate to them. Let’s look at an example:

Let’s go back to the sporting facility. Say that my organization has a state of the art gym with a stellar basketball court. I’ve decided my target audience is high school basketball players. To develop a persona I would create an example of a basketball player I would be desiring to reach. Like this:

Persona: “Jerry is a 16 year old boy that lives in my town. He’s 5′ 6″ with brown hair and hazel eyes. Jerry is an average student, plays on the high school basketball team. Jerry enjoys listening to music when he practices in order to really get pumped up for big games.”

Can you imagine Jerry? Can you picture him running up and down the basketball court? Can you picture him at school, walking the halls with his friends? Can you see what products or services he may be drawn to? Do you see decisions he is making? This is what a persona is about. You’re getting to KNOW your audience.


You may be thinking this whole persona thing is a little crazy. I mean, I just made up that description of Jerry. How can that help me market to high school basketball players? Good Question!

Yes, Jerry is fictional. But you’ve created an example of a real person. You started to know him personally. You learned more about this fictional character than “he likes basketball.”

In order to successfully market to your target audience you need to know more about them then they “like basketball.” You need to get to the core of who they are. You need to understand who they are, how they think, what they are challenged with.

Developing personas allows you to dive deep into the mind of your potential audience. And personas can be modified. Maybe you learn that your basketball playing audience also plays baseball. Or maybe they are straight A students or come from affluent families.

Continue to develop your persona as you learn more about your audience. This will guide you in creating the best marketing strategies for your target groups. Build out personas for every target audience you have, and be as specific as possible. Use this knowledge to reach your audience at their heart- not just on the basketball court.