Let’s say you’ve written a phenomenal screenplay. And let’s say that Big Famous Studio love it. In fact, they love your semi-autobiographical-futuristic-pirate-ninja-epic-love story so much that they’ve cast Jennifer Lawrence, Will Smith and Charlize Theron in starring roles. Even Al Pacino is down for a 30 second cameo.
But whilst you’re dreaming of 5 star critical reviews, standing on the red mat at Cannes, the studio moguls are thinking bottoms on chairs.
They’re thinking filled movie theaters.
They’re thinking ROI – return on investment.
How Not to Fail in Movies or in Business
Every successful studio will make sure the movies they release hit a specific target audience. That’s why they run pre-release screenings to test how focus groups react to the ending.
A director might insist on a particular artistic vision, but financial backers contractually often have final say on what’s released.
After all, the movie industry is big business. Studios are nervous about their sizeable investments. Even back in 2007, the average cost to produce a major studio movie was around $65 million with distribution and marketing costs adding another $35 million or so.
But despite massive marketing budgets and focus groups tweaking the wishes of temperamental director's, movies with massive budgets still sink without a trace.
Just mention “Waterworld” to Kevin Costner.
Now although your small business in all likelihood doesn’t have access to national focus groups or the marketing budget a major Hollywood studio does, you still need to think big.
At Moondog, thinking big means thinking thoroughly.
And thinking thoroughly means spending a substantial amount of time and research on understanding your target audience, your ideal customer.
Just like the studio that put out Twilight probably spent a lot of time figuring out that teenage goths would fall for Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, and Taylor Lautner.
Cue the Buyer Persona
In marketing circles we talk about developing buyer personas for your target audience – fictional, generalized representations of your ideal customers.
Buyer personas are undoubtedly the key to communicating effectively with the prospects, leads or punters out there who will, in the case of the screenwriter, plunk down $10 to see the film. Or spend 2000 USD on a kitchen design. Or 20,000 on a car.
Buyer personas are not something you knock off on a wet and windy Wednesday afternoon. They require analysis, research and creativity. But it’s not as bad as it sounds. Even if you’re a small business looking to hit your target audience and increase online leads or sales.
So roll up your sleeves and hunker down by your computer. It’s time to delve into some data and find out what makes your audience tick.
Four Ways to Rock your Buyer Persona Research
- Check your site analytics: Break down the data to see who is clicking around, how long they spend on various parts of the site and how they got there. Finding out their pathway to and on your site as it will give you plenty of valuable information. Are they the audience you want ? Are they sticking around to learn more about your key value proposition?
- Social media research: People these days are connected in a variety of platforms. Why not reach out via your social media channels and get feedback and demographic info? Want to reach out to teens? Snapchat. Want to research moms? Facebook! Platform-specific intell helps you drill down into your demographics and their behavior.
- Involve your team in creating profiles: different teams will have more insight into who reacts to your product and who doesn’t. Asking them for feedback is vital! Their knowledge and insight into your product, your business goals will be invaluable.
- Talk to your existing customer base: Cut straight to the chase. If you find that teen boys are responding to your test marketing, don’t be afraid to dig a bit deeper for feedback! Twitter polls ? Interviews? You’re only limited by your budget. Straight from the horse’s mouth is key!
By the time you’ve dug around in your analytics, worked your social and asked some questions, patterns and trends will emerge in terms of demographic information (gender, age, income, SES, etc.).
Hey, turns out teenage upper middle class boys in the Midwest and California are super psyched about your epic pirate ninja battle.
Stay at home moms hate the color blue so your website for the micro campaign better be a bit more funky.
Putting it All Together
You have your data, analytics and research. What’s the next step?
Believe it or not, it can come straight from you.
You are an adult who has experienced things in life. This includes witnessing others’ experiences in life. You may not be a 15 year-old boy like Tyler, a 50 year-old housewife like Sarah, or even a 30 year-old woman like Rachel, but cogent brand persona research can get you close to understanding their needs, goals and potential resistance to your movie, product or service. it doesn’t matter. Empathy is at the heart of buyer personas.
Want to know more
Check out this case study of how schools work with buyer personas, tailoring their content and marketing messages to each stage of the buyer journey.