The word “audience” can be deceiving, especially when it comes to branding. Audiences, in general, are made up of dozens, hundreds — and if you’re the chart-topping pop star of the moment — thousands of people in one place.
At WHYFOR, we narrow audiences down in a strategic way. We hone in on a target, examine a particular slice and build an informed, research-based marketing plan around individual types of audience members. We talked about the process recently by explaining our work with innovaTel, a national telepsychiatry provider that partners with community organizations to improve access to care.
But, hearing from innovaTel directly might better explain the experience, its benefits and how the work can be used once it’s completed. Lauren Lashbrook, innovaTel’s director of strategic partnerships, reflected on the Audience Personas process.
And, full disclosure, we’re blushing a bit.
Q: Where were you, as a brand, before beginning the Audience Persona process with WHYFOR?
A: Prior to the Audience Persona process with WHYFOR, we had not done any formal brand work with an agency partner. We had done all of our marketing in house and made some updates over the years to evolve our brand with the industry, but had not done any persona-specific work.
Q: Why did you feel it was important to go through this process?
A: As our company has grown and evolved, we have really made a name for ourselves in our industry; however, we really wanted to take our brand to the next level. We are known for our clinical excellence and wanted all of our marketing and branding to align with that clinical excellence.
Q: What struck you about the process?
A: I had met with a number of agencies prior to working with WHYFOR and was really looking for a partner that understood our business model, target markets and, most importantly, our mission as much as we did. After handling all of our marketing internally, it was a bit intimidating to look for an outside partner because we’re so close to our business model and, to that point, we had been the experts at what we do, day in and day out. I was worried that there may be a disconnect, but that was not the case at all with WHYFOR. They proved that right away to us. It was clear that they understood our business model and many times I found that the WHYFOR team was completing my sentences and often joke that they are reading my thoughts. I truly feel that WHYFOR is an extension of my team, not an outside agency.
Q: Do you recall gaining new insights about the audiences you’re speaking to as a result of the persona research?
A: Absolutely! Taking such a deep dive into our audiences was incredibly valuable. The WHYFOR team spent a tremendous amount of time understanding the pain points of each of our audiences, and by doing this work on the front end, it allowed us to use this persona research to craft all of our marketing messaging specific to each individual audience. All of our partnerships are customizable and much of our success has been due to the fact that we really do understand the pain points of our customers. Through our work with WHYFOR, our marketing and branding now truly paint the picture of how and why we do this work.
Q: What did you think of the end product?
A: It was fantastic! The end product really gave us a playbook for our marketing strategy. We know our customers inside and out; however, our marketing didn’t necessarily reflect that and now that work that we have done together helped us shape our entire marketing strategy for this year.
Q: How do you plan to use this analysis?
A: It really gave us a roadmap for our entire marketing strategy. It was also very helpful to share with our entire team, our board and then also new hires, specifically on the sales and marketing side.
Q: Have you seen its benefits, yet? If so, how?
A: Absolutely! We use this as a working document for all of our marketing and sales strategy planning. This was a fundamental tool in updating our website and all of our marketing content. Our industry is not a one-size-fits-all landscape, and by deeply understanding our personas and target markets, our marketing will now reflect the pain points and relevant solutions that we can offer our customers through our partnerships.
I also used this tool for new sales representatives we brought on board so they can really understand our DNA and the pain points of our target customers and how our solutions uniquely align with their needs.
WHYFOR can do the same for you. Let’s see how our Audience Persona work can benefit you.
When we talk about “audience work,” that might sound vague. It might conjure a scene of someone tapping a hot mic, tossing out jokes, trying to warm up a studio full of fans awaiting a headliner.
We’re not talking about an opening act. We’re talking about targeted outreach informed by an in-depth analysis of who a specific brand or organization is trying to reach. There’s a big difference.
Much like opening acts like to tailor their set to the type of audience that appreciates the headliner (think: skip the ballads for the headbanging crowd), brands need to tailor their messaging to speak to the challenges, pain points and solutions their audiences are experiencing. This gets to the heart of WHYFOR’s Audience Personas.
It’s how innovaTel, a national telepsychiatry provider that partners with community-based organizations to improve access to care, better understands Bob.
And who’s Bob? He’s a composite character we developed during our Audience Persona process to help us, and innovaTel, get a better picture of what matters to someone managing a community mental health center.
And we didn’t just pluck him out of thin air. That’s what magicians do. Instead, we determined target audiences during a thorough workshop with innovaTel and gathered intel through a series of validation interviews from other Bob-types — none of whom were named Bob — to understand the pressures, goals and opportunities a professional in this field faces when trying to deliver care and improve outcomes for patients.
It was during those interviews that we discovered how Bob likes to receive information, what type of information he’s interested in receiving and how the information helps him, and other decision makers on his team, move forward with a new partner. Every Bob is different, but we were still able to see themes emerge that allowed us to create an illustration of a valuable audience specific to innovaTel.
And for innovaTel, we went through the same process with two other audiences because we understand the importance of nuance.
With those characters outlined, and then colored in thanks to first-party research, innovaTel came away from our Audience Persona work with a more informed visual of exactly who they’re talking to, and exactly how they should approach each of the audiences they’re trying to reach.
Like magic. Or an opening act that makes sure it knows who it’s playing to.
How well do you know your brand’s audience? Let us introduce you to Audience Personas.
After diving in and completing an Anatomy Profile with WHYFOR, Pine Canyon — a luxury golf community in Flagstaff, Arizona — experienced pretty remarkable results.
While doubling down during the pandemic on its new-found identity as a refuge for its owners and members, Pine Canyon crushed its sales goals (by 53%), saw a spike in SEO traffic (248% increase) and realized a 1,993% return on investment for its marketing efforts.
Deanna Keck, designated broker and sales executive for Symmetry Realty Brokerage at Pine Canyon, participated in the entire process. So, we asked her what she thought of it. Here’s what she said.
Q: What was the Anatomy Profile process like for you? What was your perception?A: It revealed people to us. We always knew we were drawing from five different zip codes. And we knew friends wanted their neighbors close. A lot of people consider Pine Canyon summer camp. I think it helped us look inwards at just a lot of things we were doing to attract those people and to raise the bar.
If we follow these steps and really reflect on who our audience is, and the anatomy of who we are, we can take Pine Canyon to the next level.
Q: What do you think was the most beneficial element of the process?A: It gave us a real roadmap of where we were and where we wanted to go. It always gave us the opportunity to bring us back to where we needed to be. We sit where we are today with the refresh of the brand … it allowed for Pine Canyon to set the bar extremely high.
Q: How do you think the work done during the Anatomy Profile impacted your external audiences?A: We did a really great job of painting a beautiful picture for people to fall in love with. And we had the right people in the right seats to sell the lifestyle.
Q: How did it change how you do business, if it did?A: I 100 percent believe in what the process brought to us and it really revealed a lot about our company we needed to change. And if other brands are committed to self-reflecting, they’ll get to where they want to go. This is a process for someone who is dedicated. Someone who says, “I want to do everything I can do to get there.” That’s the buy-in you have to get. I know it will make business better.
There are a lot of things that come through the process that are like skeletons in the closet. If you don’t deal with it, you can’t move forward. “Are you ready to make this commitment?” This is hard work. This is like therapy. And therapy is not fun. But when you work through it all, it’s amazing where you can be on the other side. If you can’t approach it that way, you don’t benefit from it.
… and we do believe we heard a mic drop right there, so we’ll wrap it up.
What can WHYFOR’s Anatomy Profiles do for your organization?
Connect with us and let’s find out, together.
Sometimes, it’s hard to understand a concept until it’s drawn out, with specifics. We’re thinking about architecture and physics and (gulp) algebra. The Anatomy Profiles we do for brands are the same, except less terrifying than tricky math problems with letters.
We can talk about Anatomy Profiles and explain them, but they sometimes just need a real-world example so they can be easily digested. Pine Canyon, a luxury golf community in Flagstaff, Arizona, is the ideal illustration of the impact our Anatomy Profiles, the first step of our L.A.B.S. system, can have.
Prior to working with WHYFOR, Pine Canyon was selling houses. Pretty straight forward for any developer. To be specific, the community tucked into the Ponderosa pines of northern Arizona, was selling luxury cabins with list prices that many times required multiple commas.
Anyone who stepped foot onto the immaculate grounds at Pine Canyon, which enjoys views of the San Francisco Peaks and frequent visits from area wildlife, could feel that the community was special. It wasn’t just another housing development, with a playground and a bank of mailboxes.
Pine Canyon was a destination, and one’s arrival there meant something. And that feeling needed to be communicated — because, up until then, it wasn’t. Pine Canyon wasn’t using language that inspired its audience to act. It wasn’t conveying its unique benefits, beyond a house.
WHYFOR stepped in and changed that. Anatomy Profile work uncovered a unique differentiation for Pine Canyon, which was actually selling a home — a place where someone belongs — instead of just a dwelling. A minor but gigantic detail.
After implementing tactics drawn from the Anatomy Profile, Pine Canyon’s leads increased by 40% and the real estate team exceeded sales goals by 53%.