So you’ve been typing away all afternoon. You know who your audience are, you know what they want to hear, and you know how to deliver it. Another piece of content complete and, rightly so, you’re feeling pretty happy with yourself.
Your content has not simply been written for anyone, or everyone, for that matter. You know it’s been written for an architectural audience, perhaps, or contractors and specifiers. Whichever it may be you know you aren’t guilty of those “random acts of marketing”.
But the question is…how well do you actually know your target personas?
To what detail have you considered their habits, their everyday life, their limitations?
Have you created a believable and realistic human being out of the information you know?
It took a while for me to figure out that I didn’t actually know my target personas all that well; in fact, I was just brushing the surface.
Limit your personas to the very minimum
First things first – narrow down your target audience to 3-5 key personas; this will help to assign focused and carefully implemented content to each individual. Whilst there will be slight overlaps, you want to make sure these personas are kept as simple as possible. After all, the more personas you have, the more confusing the process will become.
And with fewer personas, the more detail you can afford to go into for each one. Remember, this is all about creating a believable figure that you could easily describe to a friend or work colleage. This will involve knowing a few random facts that may seem irrelevant to the task at hand.
So let’s break it down in the following way…
Once you’ve covered basic demographics such as age, name, location and gender, think about what characteristics and experience someone may have who has entered this particular role.
Would they have a particular degree or previous experience in the industry?
If so, how much experience?
Also state here whether they’re single, married, parents or live on their own. This will all help to build both a well-rounded personal and professional profile of the individual. Remember that their home life will have an impact upon their working schedule and commitments.
2. Skills required
Think of this section as a job application form; if you were searching for their job role online, what would the majority of companies be interested in?
Would you need good organisational skills?
Would you require strong leadership or writing skills?
Do you need to have existing knowledge of the industry and to what level?
All of the above will help to build a more focused picture of the skills they already have, as well as the skills they’ll need to continue to strengthen throughout their career.
3. Work life
Now start to narrow down their generic job-role requirements to everyday working life in the office or on the road; on a regular basis, think of all the key areas they’d typically be working on.
What type of work would pile up on their desk in need of completion?
How many assignments or projects will they be given?
What type of projects would these be?
Later on, this section will help you to understand exactly the support they need through a range of guided content.
4. Pain Points
Out of the entire persona process, this is probably one of the most important aspects.
Without knowing their pain points, what are we here for, and how are we meant to help?
This is where you need to act as a problem solver by grilling down into the hardest areas of their job role.
What resources may they be lacking?
Are they struggling with budget restraints or customer buy-in?
What daily obstacles stand in the way of them finding the right products?
5. Limits of authority
Alongside their pain points comes limits of authority; what are their boundaries?
Where does the next authoritative figure come into play?
Knowing their limitations will prevent you from writing about topics that are irrelevant or beyond their control, whilst also providing content challenging enough to help them grow and succeed to the next level.
6. How can we help?
At this stage you should have gained a good understanding on how you can help and what content is needed to directly eliminate or reduce those pain points. This may require you to write detailed guides, short FAQ-style blog posts, case studies or even templates for them to download and follow.
Another great idea is to assess the key words each persona would be researching on a day to day basis – you can then ensure that topics are kept as relevant as possible and contain those all important keywords to get found in search.
Helping your content marketing strategy
With your detailed profiles in front of you, it’s now time to reassess your content calendar; by aligning both existing and scheduled content with each persona, you’ll be able to quickly identify exactly where the gaps lie.
It’s more than likely that you’ll have lots of content written for one persona but not another; by identifying the gaps in your content, this will stop you from wasting valuable time on what’s not relevant, and instead focus on what needs creating or repurposing.
The whole process will not only mean that content becomes more purposeful and helpful, providing that all-important ‘added value’ for your prospects and clients; it also means that the more you help to target those key pain points, the more likely that prospects will return again and again for advice, and ultimately, become not just leads but trusted advocates for your business.