Addressing audience needs: How to build a detailed audience map of your buyers

Emily Taylor Gregory

How well do you know your audience? Just well enough, or really well?

Classic buyer personas only show a partial picture, and a narrow one at that. Often they fail to take into account the wider landscape, which is prone to change — now more than ever. Over the 12 months, priorities have shifted. What matters to individuals and organisations today is likely to be quite different to a year ago.

So how do you widen the lens enough to capture additional factors traditional buyer personas omit? And when it comes to connecting with individuals across the full buyer group, what else do you need to know to truly engage with your audience in a more meaningful way?

The answer is to think beyond the textbook persona buzzwords — goals, values, challenges and pain points — to address questions about the realities your audiences face right now, and to communicate with them on a deeper, more direct level.

To help get clarity on the triggers your consumers will respond to, we recommend that you build a detailed mental map of your audience, including buyers, influencers and non-buyers, which will help you to create messaging and insights your audience can turn into action.

But first, be sure to take into account some broader considerations about your audience so you have a more rounded view of where your content sits in the wider business context:


  1. Rethink your buyer group

Over recent months, your products and services may have changed and your approach to supporting your clients is probably different. But so is the buyer group that you are seeking to reach. In many cases, the group will have grown; the dynamics and purchasing behaviours will have changed; the influencer may become the budget-holder, or vice versa. Thought leadership needs to be embedded in your client-facing teams so that their knowledge can feed into producing original story ideas and valuable, timely insights. Never underestimate the value of internal consultation and feedback.


  1. Think about the individual, not the role

Too often, thought leadership targets a seemingly homogeneous group of C-suite leaders. In reality, what they will have in common is a thirst for powerful, inspirational stories. The reasons to read, share and remember content are similar – whatever the job title of the recipient. The interest in content ‘targeted’ at a generic leadership group is almost non-existent. So stay focused and think specific.


  1. Remember sector, function and market nuance

It has never been easy to localise global thought leadership campaigns. Multiple data cuts, for instance, are just numbers without context. The successful campaigns use local expertise to turn global headlines into meaningful local stories, and this is only possible with a deep understanding of political, cultural and economic context. So you need a thought leadership model that understands global shifts, but also empowers local and personalised messaging.


Keep these considerations in mind as you move onto the next step in gathering deeper insight on your audience.

Our online tool provides a step-by-step guide on how to develop a map of your target audience, including their motivations, purchasing behaviour and interactions across the buyer group. Get access here.

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About the author: Emily Taylor Gregory

Emily is our marketing director, responsible for the brand, marketing and communications strategies for FT Longitude and the Thought Leadership Network. Emily leads our content and events programmes, our digital marketing channels, as well as our speaking engagements and PR activity, working closely with our editorial and research teams to develop and promote insight and best practice at the cutting edge of thought leadership.

Before joining FT Longitude, Emily spent 14 years working in various marketing roles in the publishing and technology sectors.

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