Know who you’re serving: target groups and buyer persona’s
- Don’t target everyone at once or in the same way or you’ll end up serving no one well
- Investigate who it is you’re serving, you’ll probably find out you’re serving multiple target groups
- Describe each of these target groups as if it would be a person, these buyer persona profiles will help you to adjust your product/service and communication to your target group
Early on in my career, I learnt about not wanting to target everyone at once since you’ll end up serving no one well. Later on I also learnt about really getting to know who are your target groups, what are their drivers and barriers, how their customer journey looks like and more. In this blogpost I want to share some learnings on target groups and buyer persona’s.
My first job was Program Manager for the Dutch branch organization of recreation (RECRON). The program was called ‘Gastvrij Nederland’ and was aimed to have more Dutch people spending their holidays in Dutch recreational parks. It was the time that traveling far abroad got a lot cheaper and where before campsites and holiday parks had full bookings every year, now fewer people came to visit them.
We had The SmartAgent doing research using the BSR model. This model uses psychographic values to classify people into different lifestyles, on two axes: the sociological axis (ego <> group) and the psychological axis (extrovert <> introvert). This showed us that there were about 6-7 target groups to distinguish, with very different drivers & barriers.
“Ingetogen blauw” was looking for culture, preferred to be more on their own or with likeminded people and wanted to go out a lot to discover the surroundings. They would be the one sitting in front of their tent their back turned to you, to make sure that if you would pass by you wouldn’t start a conversation. Where “gezellig lime” wanted to be with family, friends and liked meeting other people. They would set up their table in the middle of the camping field, to make sure they got talking to other people. Where the latter absolutely loved a clown going around the camping, the first one would absolutely hate it.
We shared this insights with campsites and holiday parks, advising them not to target everyone at once, what uptill then most of them did. The average camping brochure would promise you both entertainment, activities as well as peace and quiet, all at the same time. And when having different of these target groups at once at your campsite often ended up in all of them being displeased. Since “ingetogen blauw” would be frustrated with the noise and over familiarity, where “gezellig lime” would not understand why their neighbours were complaining of the music they were playing. Maybe you could target different groups at different times over the year, but we advised that it would be even better to choose one target group and create a unique brand identity and experience that really fits that group.
Even now, about 15 years later, I still often get back to this research and the learnings out of it. To know that one product or service can serve different target groups, but that each of those target groups have specific drivers and barriers and starting with defining who it is you want to serve, can help you to be that much more successful!
What we did next in the ‘Gastvrij Nederland’ program was creating what we called the ‘Recreantenatlas’. We made buyer persona profiles, in which we described each of the segments and made them come to live. We chose some pictures that matched the target group, we gave some characteristics but also described how a person within this target group could be. This made it come to live. All of a sudden, you could think of someone you knew and this helped with defining which kind of holiday experience you wanted to create for this persona, how you would best communicate with this persona and what you should definitely not do.
At that time I did not know that this is describing your buying persona’s. And although it’s so long ago, it’s still relevant today. One thing is finding out who it is you’re serving and finding out that often you’re serving multiple target groups. Another thing is taking the time to create buyer persona profiles, so you can better relate to it. It will help you tremendously with adjusting all it is you do and where, when and how you communicate.
From here on you could dive into the customer journey and more, but that is for another time!
Although this ‘Gastvrij Nederland’ research is over 15 years old, the program is no longer active and I’m not sure if you can still buy a ‘Recreantenatlas’, I want to do it right and mention my sources: the research was based on the BSR model and done by SmartAgent (now MarketResponse) and funded by RECRON.