I was honored to be asked to write an article for Communication Director, the premier publication for corporate communications and public relations in Europe and Asia. The following is an excerpt from that article, with a link to the entire piece for your convenience.
Why communications professionals are exchanging demographics for personas and other behavior-based tactics
Marketing and communications professionals have always loved demographic data. In a world where nothing seems black and white, numbers always add up and this can be quite comforting. Unfortunately, many aspects of marketing communications have changed in ways that limit the effectiveness of demographic- and psychographic-based strategies. The proliferation of messaging channels over the past decade combined with the consumer’s ability to customize how they receive information means that an understanding of behavioral characteristics is fast becoming a critical success factor for communications efforts. Integrated marketing communications experts in particular have turned to analyzing and incorporating behavior to make decisions on the best strategies to use for specific campaigns.
Communications professionals are often adept at incorporating behavior into their work, particularly when it comes to the media. As campaigns become more and more integrated however, it’s necessary to understand behavior on a deeper level. This article will outline the reasons for basing strategy on behavior and provide ways to incorporate tools like personas into a communications practice.
The importance of behavior
The growing number of messaging channels has created not only a cluttered content environment, but a splintered experience for audiences. Audiences include not just the direct customer of a brand or service, but the media, influencers, and any other key public that may have an impact on a campaign. The challenge is to reach and influence target audiences through their preferred channels and that requires an understanding of how they behave and engage with those channels. This can be as simple as knowing what cable programs they watch, to something more complex such as learning the typical engagement profile of a Reddit user.