It's 2018, and consumers are more fragmented than ever. Sure, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms have made it easier to interact with your audience, but at the same time it feels like connecting with them has never been harder.
With more brands starting to develop their own content marketing strategies, it’s becoming more important to zero-in on your audience and find a common ground. Identifying their pain points, offering a solution, and nudging them down the marketing funnel -- sure, it sounds easy on paper, but in practice, it’s anything but.
So what’s the trick to reaching our audience? Easy: it’s knowing them. That’s where personas come in.
How personas work
Think of audience personas as the missing link between you and your customer base. In theory, personas should act as an inside look at your target audience: who they are, what their backgrounds are, why they’re interested in your service, etc.
The perfect persona is a combination of your own personal customer data coupled with a few...let’s say...educated assumptions. Detailing your persona’s personal background is often more conjecture than anything else, but that’s ok: They don’t need to be 100% accurate.
Unfortunately, not every company does personas right. Sure, at the bare minimum it’s nice to have a benchmark that you can use to tailor your content, but if your persona isn’t up to snuff, your campaigns could completely miss the mark.
How do develop the perfect persona
While there’s no hard-set rule to creating the perfect persona, the proof -- as they say -- is in the pudding. Getting down ‘n’ dirty and really digging your teeth into your audience’s needs and wants will help ensure you craft the perfect persona.
Not sure where to start? We’ve compiled a few tips to help illuminate the way.
1. Identify your audience
First, start by giving your specified persona a name and title. Charlotte the CEO, Adam the Accountant, Mary the Mom -- these are just a few examples that both encapsulate a name and a function. Try to be as detailed as possible when thinking of your audience’s backgrounds.
It can be hard to start from scratch, especially if you don’t have a lot of customer data to go off. That said, the easiest way to create a new persona is to start with the basics.
Follow this format:
(Again, remember that these numbers don’t need to be exact. In fact, you can literally put whatever you want -- just keep in mind that the closer they are to your target audience, the more effective they’ll be.) You may also want to include any other information that distinguishes your audience from another, or information that is important to your industry. For example, you may want to include their technology experience level or their preferred social media platform if your developing a marketing persona.
2. Verify their relationship with your service
Next, start diving into the more nitty-gritty by defining your persona’s relationship to your service. Are they a prospective client? Perhaps they’re a fellow employer looking for marketing tips.
Based on the above, you should also fill out what you think their primary and secondary goals will be in relation to your brand. For most personas, the primary goal is often to purchase a specific product or sign up for a certain service, and the secondary goal would be to learn more about the company.
From there, you should start ideating different ways to help them achieve these goals, whether it be through more brand awareness efforts, marketing pitches, PR events, etc.
Once this is complete, start ideating probable questions (and answers) your personas would likely have when it comes to your brand. This is where you should really try to put yourself in their shoes; try to imagine looking at your service through their eyes, and think of any relevant questions or problems they may have.
Relationship to your service:
What they need to reach these goals:
Questions they might have:
3. Pinpoint any external factors
With the background information now complete, you can start focusing on potential common external factors, including the cost of service, the time it takes, and how often the service is/may be needed. Where so many personas tend to fixate on the who and what, not nearly as many shift the narrative toward the how and why.
Next, identify your persona’s overall temperament. Are they skeptical toward your brand, or worse, indifferent? Think of possible outcomes and opinions based on previous experience. Then, start thinking of how you can tailor content to help ease their concerns and showcase your service in a new light.
Finally, consider the intended effect you want to have on your audience. Do you want to use these personas to help win support, change their behavior, get them to subscribe to a particular service, or simply become a little more knowledgeable about the work you do?
The final section of your persona's profile should follow this format:
Attitude toward your service: (are they skeptical, indifferent, or excited?)
Potential external factors:
Use personas to properly market your service
Now that you have your initial persona filled out, you can use it as a template to create more to help identify different problems and bridge the gap between brand awareness and engagement.
With your audience profiles now complete, you can start thinking of new ways to engage with your customer base. Want some help? Give us a ring!