When campaign planning, many communicators find themselves navigating complexity when it comes to creating and setting up audience or customer profiles. 

This process, which should ideally be a straightforward task of identifying key characteristics and behaviours of a target audience segment, often becomes a convoluted exercise fraught with overthinking and over-tinkering.

The root of this issue lies in the fear of missing out on a key or critical profile. Communicators often worry that if they overlook even a single potential audience segment, their entire campaign could be at risk. This fear can lead to what is known as analysis paralysis, a state of over-analysing a situation to the point where no action is taken. 

When suffering analysis paralysis, communicators find themselves stuck in a cycle of endless research and data analysis, constantly seeking out more information in the hopes of identifying every possible audience profile. 

This approach can be counterproductive. Instead of facilitating a more effective campaign, the excessive focus on audience profiling can divert valuable time and resources away from other crucial aspects of campaign planning.

Moreover, the concern that the campaign will fail because of missing one audience profile can create a self-fulfilling prophecy. By spending too much time on audience profiling, communicators may neglect other important elements of the campaign, such as message development or channel selection, thereby increasing the likelihood of the campaign’s failure.

The pitfall of One-Audience-Fits-All campaigns

A major problem arises when communicators attempt to fit all the different audiences their organisation is targeting into one campaign’s target audience set. 

This one-audience-fits-all approach can lead to a dilution of the campaign’s message, making it less impactful and less relevant to each individual audience segment.

The issue stems from the inherent diversity of audiences. Each audience segment has its own unique characteristics, preferences, and behaviours. Trying to create a campaign that appeals to all these different audiences simultaneously can result in a message that is too broad or too generic to resonate with any audience segment.

Instead of trying to make your campaign matter to all your different audiences, consider a different approach. Tailor your campaign to specific audience segments. This allows you to create more targeted and relevant messages that are more likely to engage and resonate with each audience segment.

By focusing on specific audience segments, you can also gain a deeper understanding of these audiences. This can lead to more effective campaigns that not only reach your target audiences but also engage them in meaningful ways.

strtgcommsgrp - audience profiles

Campaigns as characters: A novel and different approach to campaign planning

When we tell or listen to a story, each character has a unique journey, a development arc that they go through. They grow, learn, and change as the story unfolds. 

Similarly, think about your campaigns as characters in a story. Each campaign has its own unique journey, its own development arc, and its own outcome.

Just like characters in a story, campaigns sometimes interact and engage one another. For instance, a campaign targeting young adults might intersect with a campaign targeting fitness enthusiasts, as there could be an overlap between the two audiences. These interactions can create synergies, enhancing the effectiveness of both campaigns.

At other times, campaigns need to be independent, focusing on their specific audience without any overlap with other campaigns. This could be the case when the target audiences are distinct, with little to no overlap in their characteristics or preferences.

Regardless of whether they interact with other campaigns or stand alone, each campaign learns something and develops as it progresses. Through the successes and failures, the feedback and results, the campaign evolves, becoming more effective and impactful.

This narrative approach to campaign planning can provide a fresh perspective, helping you to see your campaigns not just as marketing tools, but as dynamic entities with their own journeys and development arcs.

Sidebar: The psychology behind audience profiling

Audience profiling is a critical component of any successful marketing strategy. It involves analysing and segmenting audiences based on shared behaviors to communicate with them more effectively. 

The typical components of audience profiling are demographics (age, gender, income), psychographics (lifestyle, social class, personality characteristics), behaviours (buying habits, product usage, purchase triggers), and consumption preferences (preferred media channels, peak usage times, reasons for consumption).

But why do we create and target audience profiles and not the audience themselves? The fact is profiles are guideposts, not the actual audience you are seeking to engage. They serve as a roadmap, guiding your campaign along its path. 

The key purpose of audience profiling is to establish a successful target market for your brand. It offers crucial data on who might potentially purchase your products and services. For example, their likes and dislikes, which marketing campaign draws their attention, and what type of content they prefer. 

Understanding the psychology of your audience is also crucial. This entails researching the audience’s backgrounds and customising the campaign outputs according to their needs and requirements. 

strtgcommsgrp - key practices to audience profiling

Three Key Practices for Effective Audience Profiling

Creating audience profiles is a crucial step in any communicator’s campaign. 

It allows you to understand your target audience better and tailor your campaign to meet their needs. 

Remember, the ultimate goal is to create a campaign that resonates with the audience and drives them to action, and this requires a holistic approach that goes beyond audience profiling.

This is the reason why it is crucial for communicators to strike a balance between deciding upon a target audience and its segments as well as focusing on the other elements of the campaign such as messaging, channels and timelines. 

They must ensure that their efforts to identify and understand their target audience do not overshadow or detract from the other elements that contribute to a successful campaign. 

To help overcome analysis paralysis and any fear of missing out, here are three best practices for creating audience profiles:

Consistency: Ensure consistency with your criteria for the specific profile. This means that the characteristics you choose to define your audience should be consistent across the profile. For example, if you’re targeting young adults who are interested in fitness, make sure that all the data points in your profile align with this demographic.

Clarity: Be clear about what specific trigger you are looking to engage with your profile. Is it their age, their love for comics, their spending capacity? Remember, everyone has a different personality in different situations. By being clear about the trigger, you can create a more targeted and effective campaign.

Realism: Be realistic about the size of your audience. The more specific you are about the profile, the fewer there are of such profiles. While it’s important to be specific to ensure your campaign is targeted, it’s also important to ensure that your audience is broad enough to achieve your campaign goals.

Keep in mind that audience profiles are not rigid structures but fluid entities that evolve with time and circumstances. They are not meant to restrict but to guide and contribute to the overall story arc of your campaign. 


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