Personas, target groups and needs groups

Why target groups just aren’t enough in online marketing

Susanne Gmachl | © punkt & komma
Susanne Gmachl
Content marketer

Let’s be real: How much do you really know about your (potential) customers? Do you know their age, interests and needs? Their demographic background or social status?

Or: Do you know exactly how they’re wired? What information they need from you? To which of their problems you can provide a solution? Ideally, these are questions that should be asked in the course of creating a content strategy and before planning any specific activities.

But let’s take a step back: The first question that we would like to address today is how personas differ from target audiences, needs groups and generational pigeonholes.

The chicken or the egg? The persona or the target group?

Who came first? The chicken or the egg? Or in our case: the target group or the persona?

One thing’s for sure: In the beginning, you’ve got your target group. It consists of demographic characteristics that are collected, for instance, via market research. Needs groups are quite easy to explain: They consist of a group of people with the same need. Even though it is easier to define a needs group: For a good content strategy, it is essential to create personas. Last but not least, target groups are now often pigeonholed into generational categories. Baby Boomers, for example, display different buying behaviours than members of Gen Z.

Our tip: Set goals, define the target group, create personas and develop a content strategy. You can find step-by-step instructions in “Content Marketing – Das Workbook” (German only)!

From target groups to personas

Target groups are people grouped together based on data. We might know how old our customers are, where they come from and which payment option they prefer. They’re people we don’t know and who remain completely anonymous. So how can we find the right words to reach the people in our target group?

In contrast to the very broad target groups, personas are more detailed and give the target audience a face and a name. This makes it easier to find the right words later on in content marketing. Words that will be read and understood by your target group and that lead to certain actions such as purchases, bookings or recommendations.

On to the next level!

How to create personas

Now, let’s make our personas come to life: If you imagine what a member of your target group looks like, it becomes a persona – a human being. Not a real person, of course, but a fictitious person with a name and a face.

First ask yourself who your target group is, and then which people it consists of. Who buys your products? Which people use your services?

Real data about the consumer behaviour of your customers forms the basis for creating your personas. Maybe you even know people in your circle of friends or acquaintances who think the same way as your target group. Then it will be even easier for you to create a fictitious customer or client!

Ideally, personas should be created by those people in the company who are constantly in contact with customers. They are the most familiar with the concerns and wishes of your target group.

That all sounds very simple, doesn’t it? Just remember that a successful content strategy hinges on your personas. That’s why it’s a matter of course for us to work on specifying the personas together with every one of our clients. A matter of honour, so to speak!


Advantages of personas

  1. Personas make it a lot easier to deal with target groups. Instead of anonymous data such as “female, between 20 and 30, outdoorsy and active”, in content marketing, we are dealing with “Melanie, 26, from Salzburg, avid hiker”.
  2. Your target groups are closer to reality. Personas give their members faces and bring them to life.
  3. Your content hits the nail on the head. Because personas make content creation much more efficient and effective.
  4. You can hold fictitious briefing conversations with your personas. This allows you to find out which topics are relevant to your target group and which are not

Allow us to introduce you to …

… our personas Paul & Miri

Meet our two personas Paul and Miri! Both want to spend their upcoming holiday in Austria. While researching hotels, they will hardly respond to the same campaigns. No wonder: Their ideas of a relaxing holiday are vastly different.

Hi, my name is Paul!

This is Paul. Paul is 35 years old and lives with his wife Lisa and his two children in a fancy part of the city of Salzburg. After getting his degree in business, Paul started to work his way up in a well-known company and is currently a senior executive. He regularly attends further education courses. In his free time, he likes to do sports or read non-fiction books.

This summer, Paul would like to spend his family holiday in Styria. He wants to make sure the needs of all family members are met equally. Even though he doesn’t enjoy research, he is intensely concerned with the location and child-friendliness of the hotel. That’s why straight answers, facts and a simple booking process are important to him. If finding information takes too long or the booking process becomes too cumbersome, Paul loses interest.

Hello everyone, I’m Miri!

This is Miri. Miri is 23 years old. She has just graduated from university and started her first full-time job. She recently moved into her first apartment of her own in Salzburg. Miri spends a lot of time on Instagram and TikTok and has also done a few collaborations with smaller start-ups. She likes to spend time with friends who share similar interests and lifestyles. They all prefer to shop online rather than in malls.

This summer, she wants to go on holiday to a trendy hotel in Styria together with her friends. The hotel needs to be instagrammable and look more expensive than it is. Miri researches suitable hotels exclusively online. She compares offers and gets inspiration from influencers. Besides the image of the hotel and the region, the price also plays an important role.

Miri & Paul shape your content strategy

Although both personas want to spend their holidays in Styria, their needs are very different. In online searches, Paul ends up entering “hiking holiday with kids” and Miri “lifestyle holiday with friends”.

You see – these two people no longer have anything to do with an anonymous target group. We know what questions Miri and Paul are asking, what they are looking for, and also how they want to be presented with the information. Especially in content creation and seeding, it’s incredibly helpful to keep the personas in mind.

And for good reason: A detailed persona makes it easy to tailor content to them. Knowing what they want and need becomes obvious.

A step-by-step guide to creating a buyer persona in content marketing

If you’re ready to tackle your personas, you can find detailed instructions here. Take your time and fill out this template step by step – when you’re done, you’ve created your persona. Talk about the persona with the people in your company who are in contact with customers a lot (customer service, sales, reception, etc.). Of course, you can also download our template.

The profile of your persona

Name and photo: 

  • an expressive photo (find one online) 
  • give your target group a name 
  • age 
  • gender 

Background information: 

  • occupation
  • place of residence 
  • marital status
  • income 
  • education and training
  • special skills 
  • hobbies and favourite leisure activities 

Statements and beliefs:

  • statements that are typical of this person 
  • values and beliefs
  • brands and lifestyles through which they make a statement

User behaviour and buying process: 
Of course, user behaviour is also an important consideration when coming up with the persona.

  • How and where does the persona shop?
  • Where does he or she get their information from?
  • What is their online user behaviour?
  • What does their customer journey look like?
  • Which online channels does your persona use?
  • Which search terms does he or she enter?
  • Who influences them?

Expectations and goals: 
Expectations and goals constantly change – they reflect the current needs of your persona.

  • What does your persona want to achieve with the product or service?
  • Does he or she want to solve problems with it? If so, which ones?
  • What fears do they have?
  • What excites them?

Ideal solution: 

  • What would this person’s ideal product or service look like?


Want to learn more about personas, target groups and needs groups? Then you might want to read our article about Millennials and their user behaviour!

Speaking of needs: Do you need help creating your personas? Our team at punkt & komma is looking forward to hearing from you!

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