There’s no two ways about it, fantastic learner personas are the backbone to all of the best marketing for learning® strategies. But to create personas that really, really, work you need to do one thing: get to know your audience. And I mean really get to know them – not just their demographic data, like age, job role and all that boring stuff. You need to know what’s motivating them. What’s pushing them to do better every day? What gets them out of bed in the morning?
To get to know our audience at this level, we need one thing: psychographic data. So, what is psychographic data?
“Psychographic data is knowledge about a person’s interests, values, attitudes, and personality traits that helps to create a profile of their interests, worldview, and potential motivators.” – Question Pro, 2023.
Ooft. That’s a lot, isn’t it?! So I won’t be surprised if you’re currently looking at your screen, perplexed about how you could possibly find out this level of information about the employees at your company.
But allow me to put on my superheroes cape and say - have no fear, Super Han is here 🦸🏻♀️ (I need to come up with a better superhero name... Don’t I?) Here are four key ways to gather psychographic data about your audience:
Alright, this might sound like a no-brainer. Because truthfully… it is. If you want to get to know someone, you’ve got to talk to them right? The chances are you won’t have the time to speak to every single employee at your organisation, and nor are we recommending you do that. But find a slice of your audience*, and set up conversations with them.
Ask them open ended questions about their ambitions, goals and dreams. Ask them what they love about their jobs. Ask them what barriers they’re facing. Go prepared with a list of questions, but you might realise you don’t ask every single person every question. And that’s fine, this isn’t a one-size-fits-all situation, it’s about building rapport with the people you’re talking to and making them comfortable to open up to you.
*I’m often asked how many people you need to talk to. But there is no magic number or percentage. I often start at 10% as a rough guideline. But if you have 200,000 employees that would mean you need to speak to 20,000 people. Which you don’t. So just make sure you have a fair sample of your audience, from a wide range of demographic and geographic backgrounds.
If you haven’t got the time for numerous 1-to-1 conversations, then focus groups are definitely a great alternative. And we’ll be honest, this is the approach that we take most often here at MAAS. But focus groups aren’t just a great time saving exercise, they’re often very enlightening. Because the group dynamics trigger discussions that you may not have even thought of – giving you a real insight into psychographic details you may have completely missed in a 1-to-1 setting.
The key to great focus groups is listening more than you speak. Ask questions, but wait for reactions, read body language and prompt people to evolve on their answers. You’ll get so much data from this, we promise!
When carefully and thoughtfully created, surveys are like gold dust for persona research. If you’re posing the right questions, you can tap into the heart of what drives your people – and get all the psychographic data you need! This is because surveys give your audience an added layer of safety – they don’t need to admit their thoughts and feelings out loud to another human. Instead they can think about their responses and type them! And with some questions, all they need to do is tick a box. Easy peasy!
But make sure you spend the time carefully developing your survey, make sure you have the right questions to garner both qualitative and quantitative responses from your target audience. This will help you make personas that really pack a punch!
When trying to get psychographic data, don’t overlook people’s opinions, especially those of the people working closely with your target audience, such as their managers or supervisors. Their observations can shed light on work habits, strengths, weaknesses, and even hidden talents. By amalgamating these perspectives, you can achieve a 360-degree view that enriches your personas with a dash of professional realism.
So you might be thinking… “This sounds like a lot of work, is it worth it?” and the answer is YES! Yes it is absolutely worth it. Because creating personas isn’t just about making nifty PDFs of semi-fictional employees at your company. It’s about communicating better. Telling stories that resonate with your audience. It’s about getting butts a’movin & getting your people learning.
Your audience – and as such, your personas – should be the main character in the story you’re telling throughout your marketing for learning® efforts. Understanding the psychographics of your audience will allow you to create a narrative that your audience will relate to, emphasise with, and want to get involved with – enabling you to connect with them on a deeper level.
Imagine you have a persona – 'Eager Eve’. Eve’s psychographic data paints a picture of an insatiable appetite for learning and growth. She's driven by a thirst for knowledge, seeking not just to understand but to master. Armed with this understanding, you can create a marketing narrative that challenges her intellect, nudges her towards opportunities to advance her knowledge, and ultimately creates a passion for learning. Suddenly your “there’s a new course in the LMS” email is replaced by a story that makes Eve excited to learn.
Okay, so now you know what psychographic data is, and how you’re going to get it – it’s time to piece it together with the rest of the good stuff that makes learner personas. Want to learn how? Check out our free guide below 👇👇👇