Crafting Personas to focus your content marketing

Written By Stewart Ritchie
Posted On July 1, 2015

We talk a lot about picking the right target market and focusing all your effort on that, how laser-like focus can directly drive business and results for you. We miss one crucial thing out here when we focus so relentlessly on the target market – we miss the people that make up that market. We miss the human element. Your service isn’t bought by a market, your service is bought by people. People make up your market and each one is an individual.

We miss one crucial thing out here when we focus so relentlessly on the target market – we miss the people that make up that market. We miss the human element. Your service isn’t bought by a market, your service is bought by people. People make up your market and each one is an individual.

What is a Persona and why should I care.

Target markets talk in specific, personal talk in generalisations about a specific group of people. Personas move us from thinking generally about who we want to serve, to thinking very specifically about why that person would want to be helped. They help us focus everything we do, not at a big grey blob of a market but it at the shining colourful personalities of the people we actually work with day to day.

A persona is still a generalisation, a made up person who is interested in what you do – the difference is that we think about the value we provide to that person as a recipient of what we do. The persona is focused on the value we can provide specifically for that person, i.e. what effect will working with you provide in that person’s life and why are they interested in that effect. For your client it may be that they have a responsibility in making the company they work for more efficient – for other it may be that they want to look good in front of their boss and get a big promotion for a job well done.

If you couldn’t already tell, all this extra focus provides value at every stage of the buying process. We know from the generalised demographics of our personas what interests they have, where they hang out online, where they find new information about their work, what they do on the weekend and what their goals in life are. From here we can produce better, more focused content that turns strangers into leads. Workflows and processes that turn leads into clients and produce results that delight, turning clients not just into referrers but full-on promoters and champions of our business and services!

Making a Persona

As you can see a persona is a valuable tool for helping your team develop empathy and focus in your marketing, but, how do we make one?

There are two kinds of persona – an idealised version and a research version. Personas are never finished and over time it is likely that your idealised version will morph into a research version.  A person should be a living document that forever reflects the developing understanding and knowledge within your organisation, as such it should be reviewed regularly.

The Idealised persona

You’re a young or new company, offering a service you’re excited about. You’ve had a handful of sales. You don’t know what you don’t know yet. You can’t establish an exact persona this way, you can theorise and guess but nothing beats actually speaking to people. Your persona will be full of guessing work – you can get 80% of the way to a really great person this way.

The Realistic Persona

You’ve been round-the-block a few times now and you know what the score is. You have plenty of clients past and present to speak to. You keep refining this persona with actual information, you are keeping a database of the responses to your research and looking for the trends.

What should a persona have

It’s important to point out what a persona shouldn’t have as well. A persona shouldn’t be an actual person. It may be helpful when writing content or coming up with ideas to think a specific person you are targeting and answer a question that they have but your person should be fictional – it is supposed to be a realistic generalisation. Wide enough to cover many bases and personalities but focused enough to give direction.

  • Name (So you can refer to it)
  • Demographics (Generalisations [age/gender/relationship])
  • Job Title Options (different companies have different structures and names for the same job)
  • Hobbies
  • What are their life goals?
  • Why do they do their job?
  • What do they do day-to-day?
  • What is painful about their work? How can you help them with that?
  • How can you help them achieve their life goals?
  • Why would they pick you over someone else?
  • Why would they object to working with you?

Personas are an invaluable tool for the production of effective, human, focused marketing material.

Have you had success producing personas for your firm?  Have you found them to be a help or a hindrance in your marketing?  Comment Below and join our discussion about personas.

Stewart Ritchie
Lead developer and founder of Powered By Coffee. Stewart has been building websites for 15 years and focusing on WordPress for 5. He founded Powered By Coffee in 2011 after finishing is masters degree. He lives in Guildford Surrey with his wife Sydney and their two cats.
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