Getting Personal with Marketing Personas
Creating marketing content and writing stories share a common goal: to make something that keeps a reader’s eyes on the page.
Good content always forges a human connection.
Marketing content and creative writing both succeed or fail based on their ability to cross that bridge of empathy from one person to another.
If the content fails to engage, the reader may only get through a paragraph or two before flipping on the television or doing something else.
If it’s mediocre, it’ll keep the reader’s attention through sheer pace, but when they reach the end, they’ll think: So what?
Good content strategy leaves a reader feeling understood, connected and wanting to learn more.
Can you imagine reading The Great Gatsby or To Kill a Mockingbird, reaching the back cover and saying to yourself, “What was the point of that?”
Neither can we, and that’s why those titles are so familiar to all of us. They connect with real people, their desires and fears, their moral selves and their core interests.
Our classic novel examples use the art of storytelling to connect with a real person, and your content should do the same through the use of marketing personas.
Personas allow marketing writers to imagine the perfect reader for their content, including who they are, their desires and what that means for a client company and its competitors.
What will keep potential customers from stepping away from your blog, e-mail marketing or e-book? Beyond that, what’s going to push them into the marketing funnel and convert them to a sale?
Ask these questions every time you create a new piece of content. If you put in the work of building a strong marketing persona for your brand’s potential customers, the answers are always different, and they’re always rewarding.
The Dreaded “Everyman” of Marketing Personas
The less research you do on your personas, the more likely you’re going to insert yourself–or worse, a “general” reader–into the gaps of what you know about your audience. While it’s true that you want to present a creative vision and use a strong writing voice, you also don’t want to produce content without the potential customer at the forefront.
Content without a persona is the equivalent of writing an “everyman” piece. The term everyman means precisely what it sounds like it means. It comes from a character in classical morality plays, but that’s not important. What you need to know is that an everyman is defined by qualities that appeal to a broad audience.
Writing everyman content will, by its nature, be bland. In your attempt to cast a wide net, you may catch some website hits, but you won’t pull in the kinds of readers likely to convert sales. Think about pop music that’s produced for the broadest possible appeal. It may be catchy when you hear it on the radio, but in the end it means nothing to you personally, so it doesn’t connect. It doesn’t stick with you. It doesn’t propel you to open the iTunes store and purchase the album.
That’s the difference between being a one-hit wonder and making gold records.
Imagining a Marketing Persona through Real Research
Getting your persona right means researching your brand’s customer demographics.
However, you should not confuse demographics with personas. Demographics consist of basic categories of information about your brand’s target customers. If you produce content targeted to a demographic, you’re still staying too broad. Worse, you’re reducing your personas to stereotypes that don’t ring true.
Collect statistics, such as social media trends, keyword data and geographic data for your clients’ brands, as well as brands of direct competitors.
Aside from researching basic demographics, talk with people who work with your clients’ most likely personas. Get a more realistic picture of who this aggregate customer is by meeting with experts and those who have experience working with the persona.
Next, convert the broader audience into a single customer in your mind. If possible, go through a list of “interview questions” for your persona:
- What’s unique about where they live?
- What biographical data are useful? (age, family size, profession, ethnicity, etc.)?
- What inspires them, and what are they afraid of?
- What are their personal beliefs and morals?
- What are their flaws and bad habits?
- How do they interact with your content? Mobile devices? Tablets? Personal Computers?
- How are they likely to feel about your clients’ competitors versus your clients’ brands and products?
- How do you want them to feel during these brand interactions, and how do you guide them toward desired outcomes?
This may sound like a lot of work before you even write a word of content, and really it’s just the basics. You could go much more in depth, and if you have the time we recommend you do just that. The more you know your target persona, the better you can create marketing content that’s valuable to your clients and their customers.
So, What Does It All Mean?
Personas mean the difference between a brand that makes human connections with its customers and one that doesn’t. Any CEO worth their salt will tell you that making human connections is the only truly sustainable business model, period.
The more human your marketing content, the more your clients’ brands can forge real connections to their communities and customers. Good marketing content is the digital version of shaking a customer’s hand, sitting together with a cup of coffee and having a conversation between friends.
Like good friends, brands want to offer their customers something that’s meaningful to them. It’s your job to help those friendships blossom through the use of strong marketing personas.
Content Writer Workshop strives to produce meaningful marketing content that connects real brands with real customers every day. Our goal is also to educate content creators and build a more robust and proficient marketing landscape. Check us out to learn more.