Buyer personas are a great way to visualize your target market. These personas (also known as marketing personas, audience personas or customer personas) are fictional characters that you create as a representation of your ideal customer. They are based on market research and real data from your current client base. Today, we get into the nitty gritty about what they’re good for in relation to content marketing and how to start creating your own buyer personas.
Buyer personas solve content issues
We’ve all had writer’s block—we need to create content, whether it’s a blog post, e-newsletter, social media posts or article, and find ourselves at a loss for words. What if you had the name, occupation, interests and pain points of your audience laid out in front of you? My guess is you would have an easier time creating content.
Buyer (or marketing) personas allow us to think of our target market as one person. Creating content for everyone is time consuming and impersonal; personas allow you to easily create content focused specifically for those you want to reach. By understanding your personas, your content creation process can become more streamlined and efficient; you have a defined person with whom to communicate.
Personas also help you focus on your business goals. For example, if you want to expand in a certain industry, persona research and creation can help you determine the pain points for that industry, the key decision makers and the type of content to which they would be most receptive.
Just as binoculars help focus your vision on one object, marketing personas help you focus your content on one type of customer.
How to develop buyer personas
Persona development can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Here is a quick three-step approach to persona development:
- Research. First, use data you already have to identify trends—what are the most requested services? What are the typical job titles of those you work with/the decision makers? What are some generalizations that your sales team can make about the types of clients that you have the best relationships with? Then, identify pain points and demographics (surveys, asking current clients and using web forms are great tools for this). Find out things like:
- What is your biggest challenge?
- What is your preferred communication method(s)
- What is your job role/title?
- What does success look like in your role; what are you looking for?
From here, you can start to also identify age, gender, income level, education, budget and other defining factors that can help you in creating a persona for this target audience. Additionally, identify what products and services you have that will directly impact, help and solve the pain points of these ideal customers/personas.
- Set communication goals. Through your research you can define the type of content that will work best for each persona, which channels that content will appear and how often that content will be sent. Set communication goals or strategies based on the personas that will benefit from set pieces of content.
- Design and share. Once your personas are defined, put them into a nice one sheet (with an image that is a good representation of that person) and refer to it for future use. Share your organization’s personas with everyone in the company; refer to your personas by name when talking through content marketing strategies and really start to know those personas as if they were real people.
Now, we know that not everyone is your target audience, but you also certainly have more than one type of person who is in your target audience. There is not a set number of marketing personas you should create. Every business operates differently and has a different amount of industries or customers they serve. So, this is where you look critically at your organization, think about who your current customers are, what they do and what sets them apart from each other. You should have a persona for every industry you sell to if you’re in B2B or to every type of customer you sell to if you’re B2C.
It’s important to remember when creating personas that you can’t be everything to everyone. Meaning, your personas should not be who you could sell to. These personas should be honest and true representations of your current customers.
Pro tip: Write to one person(a)
Once you have your personas developed, use them! And one great way to use them in your content marketing strategy is to think about how (and to whom) you’re crafting content.
As speaker and partner at MarketingPros Ann Handley has often said, think about crafting your content as a message to one person (your persona). When creating content, whether it be an email, blog or social media post, write to one person. Choose one of your personas and write specifically to that person. She mentioned how Warren Buffet does this when he writes his annual letter to his shareholders. He writes to his sister Doris, which keeps the letter personal and fun while still delivering the important information.
If you’re still not convinced that the time you take to create personas is worth it, let’s talk money. Creating content specifically crafted for your audience based off a persona will save you time and money. Doing the research before crafting content puts you in a better position to get it right the first time so you don’t have to fish for content that will resonate with your audience.
Need help? We understand persona development can be a lot to take on, so contact us! We’re here to support you in that process.