In marketing, your content should aim to get into the ‘mind’s eye’ of the reader; helping them visualize a problem, an object, event, or situation without the thing being present to the senses.
Creating a believable, emotional, or fantastical image in the mind of the reader is what defines great literature. It’s also what can transform your marketing content from good to great.
Enter the persona.
‘Marketing personas’ (also called ‘buyer persona’ or ‘audience persona’) act as the framework for targeting your marketing material.
Here’s how HubSpot defines a buyer persona:
A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer, based on market research and real data about your existing customers.
Personas compile information about a customer’s problems, ambitions, working infrastructure, and more to help you shape your content to better appeal to them.
Whether it’s for blogs, eBooks, web site copy, social media posts or emails, personas are a guide containing all the information you need to shape your content to your customers and reach their collective mind’s eye.
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What you include in your personas will depend on your business: your industry, size, and the products and/or services you offer—among other things. But there are some broader practices that all marketers can follow to make sure your personas have the biggest impact on your business, your customers and your clients. This blog breaks those practices down.
Identifying Your Personas
When developing a marketing persona, you should focus on creating realistic interpretations of customers—including their background, pressures, pain points and goals. The more information you can include to build up a mental image of the customer, the better.
We recommend having somewhere between three and five personas to make sure your marketing also answers the needs of different audiences. You need to ask yourself (and all other customer-facing workers in the business) who your most valuable customers are.
Building Your Personas
Your personas should be more than simply a few words on a page or a bullet point list. They should combine the reasons a potential customer would be looking for help that your business can provide, and why they would choose your business over competitors.
Your personas should include:
• Bio: name, age.
• Professional background: job role, employer, key day-to-day tasks, responsibilities.
• Situational information: information about the customer and the company they work for. Factors that may play into their current buying position: for example, the IT set-up of their company, how long they have worked at the company, their level of seniority, etc.
• Pain points/pressures: any struggles that the individual may face that cause them to look for an alternative product/solution/service.
• Points of resistance: reasons why the individual may be hesitant or reluctant to invest time and/or money in your company.
• Ideal solution (technology-based and otherwise): the ideal solution they would be looking for that would lead them to contact your company
• Ambitions: where they see their company heading in the future.
• Effective messages: what style, tone of voice, phrases and words will best draw them in and take an interest in your content.
Creating a detailed persona that touches on the points mentioned above will create the most accurate depiction of your customer, helping you create marketing material that convinces your ideal customer that you can solve their unique problems.
Once you have a set of detailed personas, you can present them to the board, marketing department, or your peers to explain the types of audience you should be targeting and, more importantly, how to effectively market to them.
Using Your Personas
Too often, personas are written in a burst of marketing enthusiasm before being left on the shelf (digital or physical) never to be used again. You want to make sure this isn’t the case when you come to write marketing personas.
When used well, they can have a profound impact on your marketing strategy. Here are some tips to make sure you get the most out of your personas once you’ve created them:
• Design campaigns—from SEO to landing pages, blogs, long-form content, events, etc.—specifically dedicated to one of your audience personas
• Add a preliminary step before creating a content marketing strategy that addresses which persona the material will be aimed at
• Add them to value propositions sent to clients and customers to demonstrate that you know their audience
• Regularly update the personas, after events, campaigns, etc. so they are always the most accurate representation of your current target audience
Personas lay the groundwork for any current and future marketing activity, as well as help you develop a long-term content marketing strategy.
By properly identifying your audiences, understanding their wants and needs, you can create realistic and actionable personas to improve your marketing.