Audience Persona

What it means

An audience persona (in for-profit terms, a customer persona) is a semi-fictional character that is created to represent your target audience. It’s a concise snapshot of all of the relevant information you can obtain about them, all packaged together to form a “person” you can focus your marketing efforts toward. Personas usually take the form of stories based in research and capture a fuller picture of a target audience’s life and priorities. They can include things like where a “persona” lives, their daily routines, commute, hobbies, pets, social life, beliefs, family, and media consumption.

How it’s used

Museums will usually have several audience personas (e.g., “Busy Suburban Moms” and “Cool Downtown 20-Somethings”) and may even go so far as to name them (e.g., “Jacob”) and give them pictures and bios. They serve to deepen your understanding of individuals or groups with shared interests, psychographics, or demographics, especially to bring a visitor’s needs, goals, behaviors, and motivations into sharper focus. Thinking through possible decisions and evaluating programs, services, media plans, or materials from the perspective of different audience personas is a useful tool in understanding the impact on different audiences.

Why it matters

Audience personas help organizations understand audiences in a more tangible and nuanced way, especially when demographics seem abstract (e.g., “What would “Jacob” think of this?”). They offer museums the ability to package research into an easy-to-use tool to challenge preconceived ideas and facilitate audience-related discussions or strategies and make decision-making easier and the “why” clearer. They can also help teams avoid assumptions or the application of unconscious bias when considering a particular audience and their needs.


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