Marketing Matt, Communications Cathy, and Designer Danielle.
Do you know who your business' personas are?
And if so, how much do you actually know about them?
A good understanding of your buyer personas is essential to driving content creation, sales follow-ups, product development (not to mention anything related to customer acquisition and retention).
So, how do you make one? Check our tips below on how to build great buyer personas to show off to your entire company!
Who's reading your writing: Creating personas
The first, often neglected step in cleaning up your communications is identifying your audience. At Foleon, our content philosophy is what we call "writing on purpose." We don't believe in publishing content just for its own sake. Every piece of writing should target a specific group and inspire them to take a particular action.
Unfortunately, proper targeting is difficult, and many organizations struggle to create the right tone of voice for their audience. A great tool to facilitate your efforts is persona building. A persona is a fictional person created to represent your ideal customer.
Usually, a company will have several personas that they target. For example, the personas you use may be a marketer, an internal communicator, and a graphic designer. Many people like to give them names to make them feel more natural, e.g., Marketing Matt, Communications Cathy, and Designer Danielle.
Every piece of writing should target a specific group and inspire them to take a particular action.
All three have characteristics that make them different:
- They have their own desires and challenges
- They have unique backgrounds and demographics
- They get their news from different sources
- They practice different hobbies outside work
- And much more
These personas should be central to any content strategy and, along with concepts such as the buyer's journey (which we'll cover later), are the starting point for anything you write.
So, how do you go about assembling personas? It's a process of deep introspection, and it requires you to consider your current audience, desired audience, and the value you provide as a company. We'll explore all of that in-depth, but first, a word on why this all matters:
The pitfalls of poor targeting
Let's say you work at a company that produces project management software. Conceivably this could be marketed toward anyone, but there's some feature about your product that makes it ideal for corporate law firms.
Many companies nowadays, especially in the SaaS space, focus on making their copy fun and conversational. This may be the perfect approach to targeting many organizations, but it's less likely to work with the conservative legal world.
If those law firms are seeing your fun and conversational copy, you're probably costing yourself, customers, before they're even familiar with your product. That's why it's important to deliver them a copy appropriate for their industry and the individual who is likely to be reading it.
This concept doesn't only apply to your tone of voice, either. Legal employees will likely be driven to convert by different benefits of your platform than workers from another industry, even if the platform applies to both.
They'll go to different sources to find their content, impacting how you think about distribution. In other words, writing content that's not tailored to the correct audience can result in them reacting poorly and not converting, or you might never even reach them in the first place.
Starting from your UVP
The best starting point for building your personas is considering your Unique Value Proposition, or UVP. Your UVP is a statement that explains the value of your product and the benefits you provide to customers in the simplest and clearest terms possible.
Many organizations struggle to de-mystify this. After years of exploring and elucidating all the wonderful things about themselves, they find a clean and clear explanation out of reach.
However, distilling the benefits of your operation into plain language is paramount. That allows you to think logically about your customers and why they choose you. Take a look at a list of clients and a list of professions with which your salespeople have frequent conversations. Line that up with what you deduced about a relevant audience for your UVP.
Where those groups overlap, you'll have a clear picture of one or more audiences who deserve your attention as a writer. These people are open to your message and want to hear from you.
Examining your UVP is important, but it still presents you with only a fuzzy picture. The next step is to mold a living, breathing thing from your insights. Distilling the benefits of your operation into plain language is paramount
The characteristics of your personas
Imagine you're writing a letter. What sounds easier: addressing a group of people who have some vague commonalities or addressing an old friend? Making your audience real, personal, and specific helps you create powerful copy and, in turn, rapport with potential customers.
You don't have to pretend you're writing to an old friend to construct a persona (though if that works for you, go for it). You need to build fictional characters, individual people, who are your target group personified.
Some of the characteristics you'll create for them include:
- Job titles
- Day-to-day responsibilities
- Areas of struggle
- Goals and triumphs
A recent article on Medium even demonstrated why knowing a character's favorite songs helps understand their psychology.
Try to flesh out these characters as much as you can. Don't assume that you know them intimately from the get-go. Instead, go through all the steps of character creation we discuss here. There's a good chance you'll be surprised at what you discover.
Research the style
These characters are your company's target personas. They're the foundation for the rest of your marketing and outreach activity.
After completing your persona outlining, it's wise to begin your research on the style.
What you can do immediately upon finishing work on your personas is find some of what's already being written by or for similar people online.
By understanding your personas' job titles and industries, you can identify real people online who are aligned with them. If you're lucky, you'll find that some of these real people have published some writing themselves, such as blog posts on LinkedIn.
Even if they haven't, there are certainly others already writing with these people in mind. Whether it's industry blogs, marketing, sales materials, or something else, that writing will give you a peek into the style associated with your new personas.
Take in the style they use. Is it conservative, fun, technical, or solution-oriented? Does it use long, in-depth paragraphs or short, journalistic ones?
All of this will help you develop a writing style appropriate for your new personas. The next step is deciding what exactly to write.
Select appropriate topics and formats
Choosing the appropriate topics and formats for your content is as important a component of your strategy as anything else discussed here.
The number one thing to keep in mind is that you're trying to entice your target audience to come to your website and eventually convert to paying customers.
What issues do they face in their daily lives? What marketing materials will help them overcome those obstacles?
Research their hopes, dreams, fears, pains, barriers, and hesitations for each persona. Cross-reference those with your UVP, and you'll have an easy time generating a list of topics.
The question of helpfulness extends to both topic selection and format selection. Topics and formats may be already common for your target industry. However, it's important to put yourself in your persona's shoes and question whether there may even be a content gap for the industry that is waiting to be filled.
Perhaps there are no technical, research-based white papers in this industry, even though that would be helpful for and welcomed by the industry's workers. This is a good example of why it's useful to be intimately familiar with your personas.
Start creating your buyer persona
Use the steps mentioned to start creating your personas to understand your target customers deeper level. Also, make sure that your teams know how to best target, support, and work with your prospects and customers. This will help you improve reach, boost increase loyalty and help boost conversions.