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Customer personas are an essential part of any Content Marketing Strategy. Why? Creating a strategy that focuses on targeting a demographic won’t be relevant enough to “cut through” the noise of highly saturated markets. You have to take the plunge and delve deeper into the mindsets of your clients, and potential clients, to truly understand what they need and want. Only then will you be able to reach and engage them.
Creating customer personas can be one of the most intimidating steps in the creation of your Content Marketing Strategy. Don’t worry – even the most experienced marketers can shy away from the task of creating personas. Building personas will require investment, but they are guaranteed to save time (therefore money) and make your marketing more effective in the long run. Neat, hey?
Content Marketing Essentials
Throughout our Content Marketing Essentials series, we will be discussing all things content marketing. Why? The answer is simple. Content marketing is one of the best long-term marketing strategies your business can invest in, yet many businesses don’t truly understand its power and how to use it effectively.
Content marketing is one of the best long-term marketing strategies your business can invest in. It isn’t focused on short-term wins, rather it influences almost every other online strategy and is focused on building a genuine relationship with your clients.
Stuck for time? Here are the key insights:
- Personas are fictional, yet realistic, representations of targeted segments of your audience
- Creating personas will allow you to intimately understand your clients
- Your personas should include; goals and objectives; demographics; biography; what they enjoy; tech habits; media and entertainment; role and responsibilities; pain points, and; motivations
- Personas will give you a laser-focus framework to create content within
- To build your personas, you must find out who your ideal audience is, what makes them tick and they define, refine and redefine them until they’re realistic and accurate representations.
Ready for more? Let’s start with the basics.
WHAT IS A PERSONA?
A persona is an archetype that is designed to represent the clients or stakeholders of a business. They are based on research and focus on outlining = the psychographic, rather than demographic, of a client.
Clearly defined “personas” are individual representations of your target market segments.
WHY ARE PERSONAS ESSENTIAL?
By using personas in a content marketing strategy, you add a real-world consideration to your activities. If you can accurately identify them, and understand what makes them tick, you have a perfect target audience definition on which to focus your content creation.
Most companies consider who their audience is, but that’s only the tip of the iceberg. You need to go the level deeper and really get to know them. You need to understand what drives them, what their pain points are and what their journey to find your service is. Only then can you successfully create content that is relevant to their need and presents your service in a way that helps to solve their problems.
When creating content, it can be tempting to just jump in and start writing about whatever you feel comfortable with. This approach might lead to quality content, and your office might enjoy reading it… but it may not be relevant to the intent of your customers. Having personas to create content for will give you a laser-focus framework to create within.
Once created, personas will assist in all aspects of the creation and distribution of content. As the content is targeted to the most relevant members, it will organically assist with growing engagement.
WHAT IS INCLUDED IN A PERSONA?
When defining personas, consider their:
- Biography – identify who they are, who their family are,
- Demographics – name, age, education level
- What they enjoy – sports, shopping, smashed avo for brunch, overpriced coffees etc.
- Tech habits – do they use their mobile or desktop to access social media and websites?
- Media and entertainment – are they heavy users of the social media “power four”, or do they read the paper?
- Role and responsibilities – what kind of career, job and responsibilities do they have?
- Goals and objectives – why might they need you?
- Pain points – what grinds their gears?
- Motivations – what motivates them to need your services in their job or personal life, as relevant?
1. Identify your audience
The first stage of building your persona is to understand who you are trying to talk with.
There are several ways you can do this:
- Identify the best clients you have
Think about your current client list and make note of the ones that are the best fit for your business, not just the ones you enjoy have a chin wag with. They’re the sort of customers that you’d like to have more of.
- Do your research
Take time to filter through social and community pages in the product or service segment you operate in. Access research, read forums and blog comments, Facebook pages, discussions and Q & A pages will give you insight into audiences you may not have considered.
Read the case studies or research documents that your competitors have published. Chances are if a competitor is demonstrating success with a particular client demographic, there’s potential for you to as well.
- Talk to your team
Your sales team and those who deal with your clients day in, day out will have valuable intel to offer.
Ask your sales team to identify the customer groups they are trying to reach. While not scientific, this approach draws on the experience and observation of the strongest sales intel in your business. Let your client management or liaison team discuss their client woes and triumphs in a constructive way so you can see what client is a truly great fit for every aspect of your business.
- Check in with your suppliers
Talk to your suppliers about the sorts of clients they supply to. They have their finger on pulse of the wider industry and should be able to give you the 411.
From here, you will be able to gauge which clients are the ideal fit for your business. This will provide a solid foundation for your personas.
2. Get to know your audience. Intimately.
Now that you know who your audience is, it is time to get to know them. Really know them. Only then can you develop detailed personas.
Think about the characteristics that make the ideal client perfect for your business – is it their industry, size, location, job title or job description? Consider the pain points that drive people to seek your offering, why current clients chose your service over your competitors, why future clients might choose your service, and how they find out about you.
Collate as much information as you can and be prepared to go through the process of defining, refining and redefining the personas.
3. Define your Personas
When creating a strategy for a client, we always take a thorough approach to persona development. Our best practice is something like this:
- Listen – to our client talk about who they believe they are talking to, and should be talking to
- Research – conduct independent research about the ideal audience
- Condense – analyse and classify research
- Brainstorm –fill in the gaps of the persona, then back up ideas with research
- Refine – this includes several draft personas
- Develop – finely tune personas until they are as realistic as we are.
The next step? Creating content for your personas! Putting your persona targeting into action is the best way to check the accuracy of your work.
Content Marketing Essentials: The Series
Getting grips with the essentials of content marketing will change the way your business creates and distributes content. It will also shift the way your clients, and potential clients, view your business.
Stay tuned, over our Content Marketing Essentials blog series, we will explore the basics of content marketing and content execution. What can you expect?
- Content Marketing Essentials: What your business needs to know
An introduction to why your business needs content marketing and where you should start.
- The Power Four
A guide to help you get a grip on the essential social-media hit list, who uses the channels and how they use them.
- Persona Mapping
Audience demographics are so last century and no longer effective. Personas are essential in content marketing.
- Giving it to your Audience
Using social media as the love language to woo your clients is a powerful tool of seduction and enticement.
- Content Planning
Becoming a master in executing content with this practical guide to scheduling social media posts, distribute EDMs or post blogs.
- Social Media ROI
Measure the return on investment from social media and understand how to know if you’re getting bang for your buck.
If you’re ready to talk content marketing, say hi! We can’t wait to meet you and help your business.