Content is a very powerful marketing tool that most businesses misuse due to a lack of strategy. Without a good strategy, it is easy to waste valuable resources (specifically time and effort) into producing content without a clear vision as to where you are heading. This puts us back to the basics. Ask yourself or your client: who are we targeting?
Creating an audience persona may entail a lot of research and observation, but trust me, it is worthwhile.
One of the reasons digital marketing has outweighed traditional advertising (that is through print and broadcast media) is that with this platform, everything is quantifiable. Analytics tools provide businesses with an accurate image of who their customers are. In fact, even with Goggle Analytics alone, you can extract data of your audiences’ online behavior, demographics, age, preferred devices and interests. As compared to using status quo as marketing preference, targeting audience with similar or related interests and behavior was found to be more effective in terms of conversion.
Instead of talking to a large audience who may or may not be interested in what you are saying, it is a better use of business resources to speak to a smaller audience who’s genuinely interested and has a higher probability of making a purchase.
By knowing exactly who’s your audience and what they are looking for, producing content would be a piece of cake.
What is Buyer Persona in Content Marketing?
Basically, a “persona” is a fictional character created as a proxy for a target audience. These audience archetypes may include illustrative pictures and fictional names making them more tangible to digital marketers. Personas detect similar behavior patterns that result in commonly held goals.
Buyer persona is a representation of who your customers are, what they are trying to accomplish, what goals drive their behavior, how they think, how they buy, and the reasons behind their buying decision. If you are a budding business owner with very limited resources, you would want to allocate your marketing resources in front of an audience who has a specific need for your products and services.
Buyer personas help businesses understand how to position their products’ features and benefits. It also helps marketers define the best place of distribution or access to the products.
In this article, Content Marketing Institute has brought up a very interesting theory which can be linked to marketing professors Chester Wasson and David McConaughy. The Jobs-to-be-done Theory suggests that “customers don’t buy products – but rather a ‘satisfaction bundle’ for solving problems”.
The Jobs-to-be-done theory is an extremely helpful tool to get a much more useful audience persona profile for content marketers. It opens a wider set of opportunities for content marketing stories as it broadens the story and ideally, be able to cover the entire audience’s journey.
5-step Framework for Applying a Persona to your Content Marketing
If you are left with an empty board, thinking of how you can create an accurate persona for your content marketing, below are 5 actionable steps you can do to define that buyer persona and how you can market to them.
- Define the problem
One common mistake made by businesses is that they use marketing to brag about the benefits of their products and services. But what they fail to look at is to answer this question by their customers: what’s in it for me?
The best way to stand out versus your competitors is to make your target audience believe you provide a better solution to their problem. If you can define what keeps people awake at 3 a.m. and then offer a solution, you have their attention.
With one of the clients I’ve had who was marketing an online course with a rather broad target audience (those who are looking to start an online business), we started building our audience persona by identifying the pain points of each age generation – Gen X, Gen Y and Gen Z. While we found that the common denominator would be: 1.) looking for a more meaningful career path, 2.) achieve sustainable income you can do from home, 3. ) gain more flexibility in time, there are different underlying concerns that lead to their ‘mission’.
Each generation (age range) has specific problems and concerns. Example, for Gen X, the reason they are looking for a more meaningful career path is that some of them are experiencing employment discrimination wherein many recruitment specialists would prefer employing younger professionals.
On the other hand, Gen Y is pressured with caring for aging parents and growing children. They are looking for a better career that would make them feel more financially secured and still have time to “be there” for their growing kids.
Lastly, Gen Z faces the influx of overqualified applicants and the diminishing number of opportunities in the market. There’s just too many degree holders in the market but the number of job openings that matches their qualifications is limited.
- Speak your audience’ language
Now that you have a more vivid idea of who your target audience is and what their pain points may be, it’s time to build that connection – learn their language. I’m not talking about learning slang words. It’s about learning what they are interested in and fashion your content surrounding that interest.
Just look at it this way, would you rather engage with someone who has zero things in common with you? Of course not! In a room full of people, you would rather talk to someone who you share common interests with. We are all likely to trust those who like the same things we like.
The topic “how to make money online” can be written in so much more effective ways like:
How to make money online and still party after 8
Ways to make money online and still be a hands-on mom
How to start making money online in your 60s
- Ask the Right Questions
A business that just says what they want to say without considering what their audience wants to hear is like the ill-mannered person at a dinner party talking nonstop about themselves. No one wants to sit next to that person.
Listen to what your audience wants and needs to hear. Research and understand your persona and build a content map based on what questions are asked at each stage of the buying journey.
- Timing is Key
Timing is crucial specially for email marketing campaigns. As much as possible, you want to hold off offers until you have reduced the number of inquiries from people who are not suitable for your products and services.
This is why I became a fan of the drip campaign. Through this strategy, you are able to give out ‘teasers’ of what your products or services are exactly, and who is it for, before dropping the sales bomb. You don’t want an email list that consists of inactive/unresponsive leads that may or may not report you as spam.
- Be Where They Are
The final stage of content marketing to unlock is to know where your audience hangs out so that you know where you need to be. Part of researching your persona will include what social media channels they frequent and what high-profile sites they turn to on a regular basis.
However, do remember that each channel has its own nuances and unwritten rules. Do not be lazy and post the same content on Facebook and Instagram. While a piece of content can be repurposed, you need to make sure the messaging is using the right tone and language for each channel or medium.