Gone are the days of extensive demographic research that, at best, creates a shallow impression of who your target audience contains. The Internet and the vast resources it makes available, allows marketers to laser-target their efforts to reach people in any number of states.
Content marketing takes this targeting to the next level by providing clear solutions to problems you identify in this audience, but demographic research isn’t enough to build the kind of content needed to make this work.
Buyer personas are the next step in this evolution, allowing marketers to create an avatar of their ideal prospect with a rich back story, clear preferences, and specific problems they can help resolve. Let’s take a closer look at what a buyer persona entails and how to build one for your next marketing campaign.
What a Buyer Persona Looks Like
A buyer persona is a snapshot of an individual in your target market. It works for two reasons. First, it forces you to write your content for real people, not search engines or editors who have no idea what or who your audience is interested in.
Second, it helps you to better understand who is really in your target audience. Instead of guessing or building a profile based on intuition, buyer personas force you to do real primary research through interviews with customers and prospects, generating a clear profile of who your perfect prospect would be.
To that end, a good persona should contain:
- Background – What is their role in the organization you are targeting? Where do they work? How big is the company? What are they like – hobbies, education, family, location?
- Demographics – This is the only place these come into play and it’s a quick-shot. Cover gender, age range, income, and location (in relation to a city or state).
- Specific Language – What language do they use to describe what they do? How do they talk and act in their business?
- Goals – What are this persona’s primary and secondary goals? Are they saving money, improving quality in a product, growing a business, organizing a team? Determine why they are searching for solutions to their specific problems.
- Challenges – What challenges are in the way of those goals? What are they most likely to ask for help on? Remember, this may not have anything to do with your product.
- What You Can Offer Them – Now what you can offer to solve their problems? Whether it’s information, a service, or just a quick tip in a blog post, what do you have that they need?
- Quotations – Take quotations from any conversations or surveys run that represent how this person would talk.
- Common Concerns/Objections – What are the most common objections they make to what you are selling or offering?
When you have all of the items listed above, you can create content that truly resonates with your ideal customer. Does it work for everyone in your potential audience? Maybe not, but for the people that do match, it is a perfect fit and helps them solve real world problems that make you the perfect provider.
How to Build a Buyer Persona
Gathering the information above can be done in a number of ways. There are plenty of powerful tools online that will help you get to know your persona and create a profile that will practically build your marketing materials on autopilot.
But all the technology in the world won’t replace a good old-fashioned interview. Here are some of the tools and tactics we recommend when building your personas.
- Facebook Ads
- Forum Research
- Blog Research
- LinkedIn Groups
- In Person Research
With the data you pull from this research, you’ll start to gather all the information needed to fill in the details listed in the first part of this article.
The Finishing Touches
Finally, when you feel like you know everything needed to truly define your ideal audience and prospect, you can put on the finishing touches.
There are three easy things that can make it easier to recognize and define your persona for everyone in your organization – creating a true avatar that people will reference when building new content:
- A Picture – Grab a photo from a stock photography site and attach it to the profile so there is a face on the persona you just created. This makes it easier to remember and relate to the person to whom you are writing content.
- Marketing Message – What would your marketing message look like to this particular person. If you were writing a headline for a landing page, what would it contain?
- Company Description – Finally, how would you describe your company to this target persona? What language would resonate most with them based on your research?
Once you get to this point, the next step will feel so much easier. The content will practically write itself and you’ll be able to truly help these people solve their problems through content and ideally through your product.
Each marketer has his personal approach. How are you building your personas? Do you have a magic receipt which you’d like to share here?
Lead Image: © 2007 Nicolas Nova, CC 2.0