Using Audience Personas to Get to Know Your Foodie Fans

We live in a world where we are surrounded by media vying for our attention, all trying to convert us into buyers. We are so bombarded that consumer “ad fatigue” is a very real concern for food brands.

To spread the word about your delicious products and tasty offers, cutting through the noise can be a real challenge.

In this media-saturated landscape, meaningfully connecting with your audience is more important than ever. And this is particularly true for food brands. Consumers are presented with a huge range of choices every single day.

Aligning your brand message with consumers and convincing them to choose you over your competitors goes beyond offering a quality product; you need to connect with your audience.

Your business can’t afford to waste your valuable resources on ineffective, broad marketing.

You need to know exactly who your target audience is. You need to know what they care about, what they struggle with and how you can help them.

Fortunately, this is simpler than it may sound.

Join us as we take a look at audience personas – a valuable tool to help you understand your ideal customers. We’ll look at how they can help you get a clear picture of your customers so you can find out where they are and how to speak to them.

Knowing Your Target Audience

Knowing your target audience intimately means that you know how to talk to them. While it might seem like a good idea to try and reach as broad an audience as possible, it rarely is.

Trying to speak to everyone can lead to alienating the very people who are most likely to buy from you.

In fact, trying to reach everyone means that you end up reaching no one.

Creating audience personas is a key step in getting to know the people that make up your audience. With a deeper understanding of who they are and what makes them tick, you can craft relevant marketing messages that convert.

Making wild or bold assumptions about who your customers are rarely works. Creating models that more accurately represent your ideal customers does. Once you have created these model personas, you can use them to improve your marketing efforts.

This is of particular importance online. Because in only a few clicks your customers can be swiftly led to the nearest competitor.

With this in mind, what are audience personas, and how do you create your own?

First Class Marketing, Starring YOUR Audience Personas

Audience personas are semi-fictional representations of your ideal customers. These are the people who resonate with your brand and whose values align with yours. You “get them” and they get you.

To start creating your audience personas, start with basic demographic data such as age and gender. From there you’ll build upon these characters. You’ll give them likes and dislikes, personalities, habits, hobbies and behavioural traits.

We say these personas are semi-fictional because audience personas are not pure creativity. Instead, audience personas should be rooted in real data.

Do Your Research First…

The basic demographic data you’ll use to create your audience personas include:

  • Gender
  • Age
  • Income level
  • Employment
  • Education
  • Location

Some of this data can be garnered from your website and social media analytics. Both offer basic demographic data on your visitors and followers. You can also learn key things about your customers using polls and quizzes either online or via email.

…Then Add a Layer of Artistry

Collate your data and you’ll probably notice a few trends emerging. Try and identify as many trends and patterns as you can and then organise them into most common to least common.

Once the research is done, get creative.

With your data and trends as a starting point it’s time to think like a novelist. Give your personas names and a life history. Invent behaviours and personality traits for them. Ask yourself what they like and dislike, what their goals are. Even how many pets they might have!

If you’re struggling to come up with creative ideas, try modelling your audience personas after real people that you know well.

Some of these steps might sound trivial or fluffy. But the more fully realised your personas, the more likely it is that you will hit upon the real-life experiences of your customers.

Fill your personas with personality traits, lives, and concerns to “know” your audience. With this greater understanding, you’ll be better equipped to speak directly to them.

For step by step instructions and guidance to creating your own personas, we’ve put together a downloadable worksheet for you. Answer the questions and fill in the blanks to develop one or more personas for your brand.

Change Your Messaging From Functional to Emotional

Once you have a good feel for your target customer, you can speak directly to them. This will increase engagement and improve conversion rates.

Direct your marketing efforts and messages towards individual people rather than the masses. Treat your personas as if they really do exist and write directly to them.

An essential part of this is focusing your messaging on the benefits of your product. Don’t just talk about your products’ functional features or ingredients. Show your audience how your product will make them feel.

For example, consider a gluten-free snack bar. Gluten-free is a great feature for the product to have. But the greater benefit to the customer is how they will feel after eating the bar. Perhaps they’ll be full of energy and feel good about consuming something nutritious. Alternatively, you could tap into the peace of mind they will have knowing there’s something delicious and safe for them to eat.

As another example, let’s take a look at condiment brand Rubies in the Rubble. They create sauces and chutneys from produce that would normally go to waste. On their website they state “we make condiments with a conscience”. Their jars read “we fight food waste with relish”.

This prominent focus on the benefits – reducing food waste – taps into the emotion of doing good through the simple act of buying the product. This message won’t be right for everyone but the goal is not to reach everyone. The goal is to reach the people who care most about your brand, your mission and your products.

Bring People on-Board With Targeted Marketing Messages

Another benefit of knowing your audience intimately is that you’ll be able to use more targeted offers and messages to reach your ideal customers.

For example, if you’re targeting mothers, you can speak to their maternal sensibilities. There’s a reason why so many advertisements for food feature happy, smiling, healthy children. The message is that feeding your children this food will also make them happy, smiley, and healthy.

But if only a tiny segment of your audience are parents, “feed your family the best” messages are pointless. If your potential customer doesn’t have a family, this message won’t land at all. There’s almost zero chance they will buy from you.

Your message should align consumers with your brand ethos. Focus on what matters to them.

Consider Dorset Cereals. Their distinctive cardboard packaging is in natural woodland colours. The charity they work with is the Woodland Trust. These choices give rise to images of natural health and vitality in consumers.

Unusually, Dorset Cereals make sparse use of TV commercials, relying instead on pack-advertising. This backs up their claim of honesty and of them being “real”. Note too, that the words “honest” and “real” are terms that speak to emotions. They can easily be applied to a person instead of the functional benefits of cereal.

We can imagine that the Dorset Cereals audience personas are people with strong family values. Genuine, friendly, nature-lovers who try to do their bit for the environment.

Dorset Cereals

Tailor Your Messages for Relevant Traffic

Successful marketing is dependent on relevant messages. This means you’ll put forward content and offers that your audience is interested in. Doing this and speaking to them in language they use will help you connect to your audience. In turn, this will increase the chance of converting them from prospect to buyer.

An example of how language can be geared towards a specific audience is Innocent drinks.

Their well-known “halo” logo with the childlike face, makes you think of purity and youth. Innocent also tap into these ideas in their copywriting: “hello…we’re innocent”.

The simplicity of their copy and their fun and frivolous on-pack illustrations such as the “wee-o-meter” all tie into their brand message. It connects them with customers who are looking for fun, simple, healthy and “pure” options.

We can easily imagine that the Innocent customer is light-hearted and laid-back but likes to keep an eye on their health.

Marketing is about more than generating huge volumes of likes or traffic. The right traffic is far more important. If you can connect with customers by engaging with their real-life experiences, you will have a far greater chance of converting them.

Create your own audience personas to get to know your foodie fans better. It will help make sure your marketing efforts aren’t wasted. Don’t forget to download our workbook (and actually fill it in!) to start learning about your audience on a deeper level.

In an incredibly crowded market, it is crucial to stand out from your competitors. And this means creating meaningful connections with your audience on a human level. The personas you create will help you to do just that.