Use Personas to Improve Your Content

October 8, 2018

Written by Sam Hoffman

Sam Hoffman is a Pittsburgh-based marketing professional with a BSBA in Marketing Management and an MBA from Youngstown State University. With nearly 10 years of marketing and sales experience, Sam understands good marketing principles and how to apply them to real-world business situations.

Marketing is not an exact science and can seem very abstract. On top of that, the marketing industry is evolving at a much quicker pace than other areas of business. Social media, smartphones, and ad block features in web browsers are just a few of the things that have greatly impacted the efforts of marketers. Buyers also behave much differently today than they did in the early 2000’s.

While these increases in technology and changes in consumer behavior have brought about many challenges, they have also forced businesses to become more creative and develop better ways to market their products and services.

Something I find extremely ironic is that one of the most modern and effective methods of marketing today has actually been around since the late 1800s. Marketers were simply just slow to figure it out.

What is Content Marketing?

So, what is this awesome marketing technique? It’s called content marketing. Simply put, content marketing is all about creating and sharing information about your company in an effort to increase interest in your products and services.

The goal is not to be pushy and overly promote a business, but to provide information that customers will find useful and be willing to engage with. Ultimately, you need to make your audience aware that you are the expert and educate them on how your products and services will solve their problems. Your content should continuously nurture leads and move them closer to making a buying decision.

If you are already producing great content but you are not seeing the results you want, something is off. If you think the solution is to pump out more blogs or videos in hopes that a customer finally notices, you are wasting valuable time and resources. If this describes your current situation, don’t panic; keep on reading.

The Problem of Content Without Personas

Perhaps one of the main reasons your content is not getting the results you want is it lacks the proper focus and does not resonate with your target audience.

There a few reasons this might be happening. One might be that your content is too spammy and reads more like a 1,000-word advertisement. Another reason could be that you are not promoting your content through the proper channels. Perhaps you did not use the best keywords or the correct frequency of keywords to make your content more search engine friendly.

If you’re reading this and thinking to yourself, “Nope, that doesn’t sound right. Our content isn’t spammy, we post on social media, and we did our SEO homework,” then maybe the answer is that you did not create content with the correct audience in mind.

In order to fix this mistake, you need to understand what audience personas are and learn how to create and implement them into your content creation marketing strategies.

What are Audience Personas?

Typing this question into Google will bring up many different articles and definitions. One of the best definitions of an audience persona is “a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers.”

Even though the definition above is fairly simple, let’s break it down and take a closer look at it. First, an audience persona involves you creating a semi-fictional customer profile. The definition further explains that his semi-fake profile needs to emulate your ideal customer. Finally, but most importantly, the definition states that you should use market research and real data on existing customers to create these profiles.

Here’s an example of an audience persona for a tech company. Mike is the Director of IT for a national retailer. He is 45 years old, is married, and has three kids. Mike is constantly on the lookout for the next best tech innovation for retail. However, he has a strict budget and time is his most valuable resource. Further, any system or new IT project must be implemented quickly and have little to no negative impact on overall operations.

Understanding how to create buying personas is very important. You must base these personas on actual, quantitative data (mixed with some creativity). Successfully creating personas will help you determine what the focus of your content should be.

Before you can begin creating personas, you need to have data. The first step is to gather existing information you have on customers. Next, examine and analyze the data you have collected to find common demographics and begin creating customer types. This process will give you insight into who buys, uses, and loves your product or solution. Finally, categorize all of the information into a few personas and use them to guide your content creation.

Tips for Using Audience Personas

Here are few key things to keep in mind when creating audience personas and future content.

1. Use Real Data

As mentioned before, using actual data is key. Don’t make up information about your customers. You need to gather real facts. If your company doesn’t collect any information about your customers, go out and talk to them. Interview some of your biggest customers and ask them about themselves. After a few minutes, they’ll tell you everything you need to know.

2. Focus on Your Buyers

When creating content, always keep these audience personas in mind. Focus on various problems your buyers might face and create helpful content for these problems. Figure out any biases your buyers may have about your products, services, or industry and address them in your content. Using your audience personas, map out the buying process from start to finish. This will enable you to create better and more focused content and help identify areas for improvement.

3. Find the Sweet Spot

When using audience personas, don’t get too carried away. If you create too many customer profiles, it can be extremely overwhelming and difficult to target each one. Try to limit yourself to 5 or 6 profiles at first. Over time, you will find similarities and trends between buyers allowing you to further consolidate your audience persona profiles.

Analyze, Refine, and Execute

As mentioned at the beginning of this article, marketing is not an exact science. Almost no business marketing strategy will be successful if it is not continually refined. Once you develop and begin using audience personas to direct your content marketing strategies, you will need to continuously measure your results and make tweaks along the way. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes either. Experiment with your content and always keep your customers in mind. You’ll find when your content strategy is based on your audience personas, it brings stronger results than general messages you hope reach the masses.

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