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Target Profiles in Policing vs Marketing: Who Does it Best?

We all love a good crime series that makes us wonder who the criminal is, don’t we? Dexter, Sherlock, White Collar, The Mentalist just to name a few…And as much as we love a show’s plot, many of us enjoy the psychology involved in understanding a criminal’s motive. Very often, crime scene shows involve a detective working with a criminologist to create a criminal’s profile and to do so, the specialist writes a report detailing information such as where the criminal may live, their sex, social habits, what their childhood was like, and even this person’s general psychological profile. Sometimes they can accurately predict where and when the next crime will occur! However, in reality, criminal science isn’t always as clear-cut as the TV series might want us to think… 

Also, modern policing techniques have advanced with the prevailing mantra of “intelligence-led” policing. This simply means that the police base their operations on the information they have already collected. Having learned this, our team at Yay!Starter began to wonder: “How different are police profiling techniques to the persona definition exercise marketing professionals use on a daily basis in order to better define a target audience for a business?” And the conclusion we came to was: “Not so different at all!” Sounds interesting? Continue reading…

There are two types of profiles that the police produce namely: subject profiles and problem profiles. Problem profiles focus on producing reports on specific crime trends or criminal hotspots. In relation to subject profiling, the police often have the name of a suspect and some other identifying information. Based on this information, they can do research using publicly available sources of information such as social media channels, to develop a profile of a suspect. Such a profile normally includes the following information: 

  1. Family and relationships
  2. Lifestyle and habits
  3. Employment details
  4. Associations with certain people or groups
  5. Places of abode

With this information, an analyst will produce a report on the person making recommendations on how to apprehend the suspect or even predict future criminal activity. 

What is really interesting here is that marketing professionals also develop profiles known as ideal client profiles for the purposes of targeting a specific subset of a target audience. Marketers normally use publicly available information to develop reports on certain demographics. For example, if a marketer was to target their campaigns at SME business owners, the demographic details to be researched would cover the following: 

  1. Age of the targeted individuals in a company
  2. Business sector
  3. Income
  4. Job title
  5. Regions where they are based in
  6. Their goals & needs
  7. General areas of interest

With this and other bits of information, a marketing team can then develop marketing strategies targeted directly at their persona of interest. This may include: defining the social media channels the personas may frequent, the press they read and programmes they watch on TV or elsewhere, membership organisations they are likely to be part of, opinion leaders they are likely to listen to/read.

In both policing and marketing, the basic premise of conducting research is to inform the development of strategies to essentially ‘capture’ the target. If you’ve stayed with us this far, you are probably as fascinated as we are to know that the pieces have come together and we can say this out loud: “Police profiling is very similar to marketing profiling techniques!” And this is the note we’re going to leave you to ponder on!

If you want our researchers to do a job that even The Line of Duty operatives would be proud of – give us a shout!