Why the Focus Group of One is a Flawed Strategy for Target Persona Research

Sharie Levingston-Krueger

Sharie Levingston-Krueger About The Author

April 20, 2021 at 10:49 AM

Why the Focus Group of One is a Flawed Strategy for Target Persona Research

Having a buyer persona is vital to your company’s success. It improves your performance and increases chances of lasting success by keeping your goals consistent. Of the companies who developed buyer personas, 71% of them exceeded their revenue and lead goals. Furthermore,  47% of the companies who exceeded their goals work to consistently maintain their personas.

To truly connect with your customers and grow your business, you will need to know them on a more personal level than their buying habits alone. However, one person won't give you an accurate representation of who your audience is. People are unique individuals and can easily mislead you with too small of a group to represent your advertising strategy.

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What Is A Target Persona?

Screen Shot 2021-04-19 at 10.41.48 AMA target persona is a semi-fictional representation of your key customer that is stitched together through extensive research that uncovers your target audience's interests, values, and behaviors. The more you learn, the better. Every detail reveals more about your audience and helps bring your personas to life with more realistic dimensions.

As much as 90% of companies using personas have been able to create a clearer understanding of their buyers and have been better able to reach them. They're meant to broadly represent a large group of people, which is why too small of a subject base will skew your persona. One person, or even 5 or 10 people, cannot accurately capture your audience.

Sample size recommendation

It's impossible to get a 100% perfect reading onto your sample size, but it’s surprisingly possible to get insight within a 5% to 10% margin of error. To achieve a reading with a 10% margin of error, you only need 80 out of 500 people to respond. A bigger response is better, since hearing from 220 out of 500 people gets you a 5% margin and 345 responses get you a 3% margin. From there, you follow patterns and pull out the most relevant ones to your persona and purpose. 

Even having a margin of error between 5% and 10% significantly increases your chances of business success. Since getting accurate readings beyond that requires so many additional responses, it can easily be too costly for its added benefit. When conducting surveys, receiving between 80 to 220 responses to base your target persona on is ideal.

More People Lets You Know What to Focus On

Everyone interacts with your product and services differently. It's crucial to understand which experiences are broadly shared to verify and discover pain points. That allows you to narrow down your priorities and know where to focus. 

Think of it this way:

Screen Shot 2021-04-19 at 10.43.36 AMOne person might have a very specific issue based on their unique situation that isn't representative of everyone. If you use that unique situation as a representative of all your buyers, you risk your ads not resonating how you need them to. However, if several people have that same reaction, you have more verification that it'll be more helpful than harmful to include in your persona.

Not to mention, including more people in your target persona research also helps you tailor your messaging to specific audiences with more precision.

How Do I Find More People For Target Persona Research

Finding more people for your target persona research is surprisingly more accessible than you may think. The truth is, people are open to providing personal information as long as they don't feel like you're taking it from them without their permission. The portion of consumers who said they're willing to share more when brands are transparent rose to 73% over the last two years. 

There are several methods for reaching your consumers for target persona research. To name a few reliable ones, there is:

  • Your database — Use your existing customer database to find the primary demographics your customers make up.
  • Quantitative marketing research — It is conducted through surveys, questionnaires, and polling. This kind of research is excellent for a large amount of general data on your buyers and forms a foundation for the basics that eventually influence qualitative research later. 
  • Qualitative marketing research — It is done through one-on-one interviews, observations, focus groups, and case studies. This research is administered through observation and unstructured questioning and is often used to better understand a buyer's underlying reasons and motivations for doing something or feeling specific ways. It provides more in-depth insight into your consumers by getting insight into their thoughts and opinions. 

Resonate With the Right Audience

Screen Shot 2021-04-19 at 10.45.31 AMForming an accurate target persona is crucial to developing messaging that will resonate with your audience for successful marketing campaigns. Your first step is to get very comfortable with target personas and the best practices for bringing your target audience into focus. Your next step is to keep learning about your consumers and adjusting your personas and strategies to keep up with them.

If you’re intimidated by this process, working with a media partner ensures you’re getting the right message to the right people at the best time. Reaching your current and potential customers can be challenging but working with media experts gives you more guidance and advice to keep you on the right track.

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