When it comes to personas, it seems like we have a dozen word phrases to say what we mean. There is the marketing persona, the buyer persona, the customer persona, and a few other phrases.
Some use the ideal client avatar or the ideal customer. Really, it gets cloudy often when it comes to the words we use for our target audience.
For the sake of this article, I am going to use the term content marketing persona. This phrase refers to the person you are talking to in your blog content. You can also use the same idea for your website copy, but today we are talking about blog content.
I am going to talk about a simple way to develop your content marketing persona without all of the fancy stuff. There is one thing you really need to worry about, and we are going to talk about that.
What do we mean by a content marketing persona?
Now, there are certainly different things to think about when talking about a content marketing persona. I mean, some people are interested in reaching the customers they wish to have with their content.
Others are new to the business and have no ideal client in their minds. They have been working with whoever walks in the door and needs an online presence. Naturally, it takes time to decide who you like working with and who your niche is going to be.
These are all important points because you are going to be writing your blog posts to the person you want to be your customer as well as those who are already your customers.
Undoubtedly, at this point, you have read articles on creating a user persona for your business. I am often underwhelmed by the depth of hypothetical points that are being used.
We really create a person of fiction. There is nothing wrong with that. In fact, I have created a person of fiction, or two. But we are not talking about writing a work of fiction, we are talking about writing content that is for real people.
There is nothing fiction about the audience of blog posts.
We come up with a cool name like Wesley Web Developer. We may give him an age range.
Wesley is 35-40, he runs his own WordPress agency with a couple of subcontractors. We explain that he has a wife and 2.5 kids, a dog, and on Thursdays a cat.
See, it’s like that.
How many people who use MainWP are a male age 35-40? I’m sure there are many.
You see, I think there is an inherent problem with the way personas are usually approached. We are speculating.
That is why today I am going to talk about a couple ways you can put your content marketing persona together without using cute nicknames and irrelevant information.
For the purpose of this article, our content marketing persona is our existing audience based on those who are already customers or those in the same industry. For example, this would WordPress professionals for MainWP.
Getting started with a simple persona
Now, let me say this, if you really want to know who these people are, you will need to interview them.
That’s right, you need a real interview with your customers. This will allow you to ask certain questions to find out more about them. There is one thing you should focus on, and we will talk about that shortly.
How can you do this?
Well, connect with them. Since you are a business to business (B2B) service provider, you already have their email information and most likely their phone number.
See if you can ask a few questions. Have your questions ready. Hop on for a Zoom call or call them on the phone.
Over the past two years, I have had numerous Zoom calls with members of the MainWP community. This has helped me learn more about who I am talking to. This gives me a heads up which I will talk about later.
There are two other easy ways to learn more about your audience. The first is through a survey.
You already have an email list of your customers and you may also have an optin list. You can create a survey that asks the same questions you would ask someone on a call. Send those out through your email lists.
It is likely your response rate will not be high, so you might consider sweetening the deal of responding by offering a reward. This could be a gift card or some other gift.
The final way I want to discuss for getting customer data is via social media. Along with social media, if you have been given feedback by Google reviews or on Facebook, this can prove valuable as well.
You may need to do a little research to find a customer or use information about your company on social media. For service products, you can often find info in forums, Facebook groups, Reddit, and Slack rooms.
When you have the information, compile into useable chunks.
Look for common threads. What are they saying about your product?
Now, there is one thing you really want to pay attention to. You want to listen for problems that customers and potential customers are talking about.
The problems may not be about your product, but it may be about something related to their business. Creating content to help them solve these problems is a way to get noticed.
The one thing to turn to
Now, you have spent time talking to customers, analyzing surveys and listening to social media. By now, you surely have a list of topics you can talk about, but, do you have a persona? I mean, have you come up with a name, demographic characteristics, or is your person is just a mystery?
No, my friend, your person is not a mystery. First, you want to base your content on things your “person” wants to learn more about. That has little to do with demographics.
You should focus on their internal needs. Your blog content should be something that speaks to your “person’s” pain points or their problems. This is why I like to focus more on psychographics.
In Donald Miller’s book Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen, Miller points out that the customer is seeking to solve three main problems: External problem, the Internal problem, and the Philosophical problem. Miller explains more in this article at his blog.
You see, we have anxiety over unsolved problems. It might be an external problem or an internal problem and it may also be a philosophical problem.
I want to know what the pain points are of my target audience. I want to know what gives them stress. And you know what? My target audience may have the same problem whether they are 35 or 55 years old. They may have the same problem if they live in Croatia, London, Mumbai, or Virginia.
This is why I count more on psychographics than I do for demographics. Maslow created his hierarchy of needs. We all have needs. We all have anxiety.
We can learn a little bit more about how Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs can be applied to marketing in this fantastic article by James Chartrand at Men with Pens.
Getting to the point
Now, you can take your data and create a composite focusing the needs, the things that create anxiety for your target audience. This will help when you begin the map out your content.
One thing I like to do is to hear what questions they ask in forum settings. Those questions are gold and great for creating topics for your content.
The other thing I like to do, instead of creating some fictional persona, is to think of someone I have spoken to. I will often envision that person when I am writing or outlining content. Sometimes, it is a fictional person in my head, but often I am thinking of someone who I know is in the audience.
This is something you can do as well. You know the people who are reading your content. You know who your customers are. You have chatted with them and heard their questions, their anxieties, and their business problems.
Your content marketing persona becomes someone you actually know, not some fictional character.
That takes time to develop. Because it takes time, you can get started quickly and easily by envisioning someone you already know is your customer and their questions, their anxieties, and their problems.
Wrapping it up
So, I said all that to say one thing, think about your customers when you write your content. I think we get too blinded by the allure of creating fictional characters and miss out on who really matters our tribe.
Spend time communicating with your customers. You already do this when you support your services. You get tickets from your clients, they ask you questions, and you answer them.
When I consult business owners for their blog content, the first thing I tell them to do is write down the ten most asked questions that are asked before someone signs a proposal. What are those questions? Then answer them in a blog post. You will be well on your way to answering the questions people want to know the answers to.
Then, go and create content for your target audience.