A common adage in the creative writing world says that something written for everyone is written for no one. Even the prolific Steven King says that his wife is the target audience for his stories. This crucial creative writing advice is even more critical in the content marketing world, but instead of our significant others, we use personas as stand-ins for our target audience.
Why are People Saying Personas are Dead?
Personas are a time-honored concept. They’ve existed in marketing and advertising since the birth of the art form. But as with many old ideas, the persona has not aged gracefully. Many marketers have thrown aside personas for ideal customer profiles or data-backed market research. All these are valuable, but the persona is about something different.
Whether collected from advertising performance or market research, data-backed targets will provide information on the behaviors of a cross-section of society. The group in question may be primed and ready to buy your product because they have bought similar products in the past. Targeting them in your content marketing is valuable. But what about the person who simply isn’t interested? What about the pain point that has not surfaced through past behaviors?
Personas are a mix of fact and aspiration. They are a fictional stand-in for a person with a pain point solved by the products and solutions offered by a company. They are designed to target current pain points with new ideas, not old ones. And when they aren’t used, it’s usually because they’re not understood.
The only dead personas are those that aren’t used.
Building Great Personas
Building a great persona starts with asking a few questions:
- Who can we help?
- How can we help them?
- How will their life be better after we help them?
Pro Tip: To answer those three questions, you need to know the foundational reasons for the business. Specifically, understand why the company exists, what it does, and how it does it. These questions seem simple, but you’ll have to delve deep to reach the root answers.
Where to Go Next
Once you’ve outlined why you exist and who you serve, you’ll need to build stand-ins for your personas. Usually, this includes a name and a job title. For example, If you sell software to homeowner’s associations, one of your personas may be a young man newly appointed to the board because he’s “good with technology.” His persona name and title may be Techy Travis.
While you should develop as many personas as possible, we suggest starting with just a few.
Then, do some research. Your research doesn’t need to be a complex or expensive campaign. You can look up information about a specific job type or industry using free sources. However, we find that the best sources are your company’s employees.
Poll members of your product, customer support, and sales teams to reveal answers to the following persona questions:
20 Questions to Get Acquainted with Your Personas
- Describe their demographics.
- Describe their educational background.
- Describe their career path.
- In which industry or industries does their company work?
- What is the size of their company (revenue, employees)?
- What is their job role? Their title?
- To Whom do they report? Who reports to them?
- How is their job performance measured?
- What does a typical day look like?
- Which skills are required to do their job?
- What knowledge and tools are used in their job?
- What are their biggest challenges?
- What are they responsible for?
- What does it mean to be successful in their role?
- How do they learn about new information for their job?
- Which publications or blogs do they read?
- Which associations and social networks do they participate in?
- How do they prefer to interact with vendors?
- Do they use the internet to research vendors or products? If so, how do they search for information?
- Describe a recent purchase they made.
A Quick Review on Personas
No matter your approach to developing personas, use the following as your guide:
Identify the Challenges, Pain Points, and Goals of your target audience. Content that addresses these obstacles and offers valuable solutions is more likely to engage and convert.
Complete Extensive Research. Developing personas starts with comprehensive research. The more data gathered, the more accurate and detailed the persona.
Ditch the Overly Specific Demographics. Using specific demographics like age, salary, alias, and gender and pasting on a stock photo are meaningless shortcuts to filling out an ineffective persona. Stick to what matters—characteristics of real customers.
Continuously Update Them. Successful content marketing personas are dynamic. Regularly review and update your personas as your audience and market evolve. Collect feedback from your team, customers, and stakeholders to refine your personas.
How to Use Personas in Content Marketing
Using personas to build content is a powerful strategy that helps your content resonate with its target audience by addressing its specific needs. By putting yourself in the shoes of your ideal customer or audience member, you gain valuable insights into their preferences, pain points, and motivations. This deep understanding allows you to create content that speaks directly to them, providing relevant solutions, valuable information, and engaging stories.
Embrace the power of personas in your content marketing strategy, and you’ll witness a transformation in audience engagement, retention, and the overall success of your content efforts.
The primary uses of personas include:
- Audience Segmentation: Each persona represents a distinct segment with unique characteristics, preferences, and pain points. Segmentation allows you to tailor your content marketing plan for each group.
- Content Format: Evaluate topics and existing content to identify gaps across content formats. Each persona should have content of varying lengths and formats available to them.
- Funnel or Buyer’s Journey: Create content that leads your persona further down the funnel or to the next stage of finding your solution to their problem. This approach ensures a consistent flow of relevant content across your marketing plan.
Personas form the core of a successful marketing strategy. Like a well-developed character in a story, a persona is more than a representation; it’s a detailed and relatable figure that embodies the desires and challenges of your target audience.
While some say that personas are no longer relevant, personas that go beyond simple demographics to capture unique human struggles and dreams can help build marketing systems grounded in empathy and trust. Personas bridge the gap between the unmet needs of the audience and the solutions offered by a company.
Creating great personas involves understanding the business’s primary purpose and how it can make a meaningful difference in its customers’ lives. Personas aren’t just about numbers; they create a vivid and authentic picture of the people who can benefit from the company’s offerings.
By embracing personas in a marketing strategy, you can tailor content to address various audience needs, preferences, and challenges to ensure a consistent flow of engaging and impactful content throughout your marketing campaign.
The ongoing relevance of personas in content marketing is clear. They breathe life into the strategy, bringing empathy, understanding, and a strong connection with the audience, and that’s something every business strives to accomplish.
Interesting Related Article: “3 Ways to Reach Your Target Audience Effectively“