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Developing Personas for Content Marketing

Posted by Christine B. Whittemore on Feb 7, 2012 9:43:00 AM


Have you identified personas for your business? Do you tailor your content marketing to your personas?

I first learned about personas and how they shape online content when I took a FutureNow online copywriting seminar, led by Holly Buchanan, based on "persuasion architecture" [check out the white paper].

The section on personas which begins on page 30 explains:

"There is no average visitor. The path to mediocre and uninspiring conversion results is lined with project managers who imagined every visitor would think and behave in exactly the same way. People have varying strategies for accomplishing tasks, conducting research, managing their time and making decisions. The very concept of an average user makes it impossible to construct a persuasive process that will motivate a broad spectrum of individuals... "

Personas represent another way of 'walking in your customers' shoes'. They go hand-in-hand with customer centricity [see Best Buy Stores Target 'Barry', 'Buzz' and 'Jill'] and force a business to ask customer-targeted rather than product-centric questions about how to deliver value. From an online, digital and inbound marketing perspective, personas help shape content so it addresses the needs and pain points of one vs. another.

>> See The Case for Personas in Business: Connecting With Customers

>> See Integrate Personas into Your Inbound Marketing with HubSpot

When you're developing personas for your content marketing, consider the following 5 tips:

1. Think of your customers. How does one differ from the other? Perhaps you notice a pattern consisting of solo-decision makers as well as more complex buyer-committees consisting of CMO, CFO and CEO. 

2. Consider each individual a distinct persona. Give each one a name and a role. You may even want to add a picture to make them even more real.

3. Detail each persona's biggest concerns and painpoints. What does each one need? What keeps each up at night? What terms does each use to describe the business problem you could help with? 

4. Consider the questions the different personas ask. How do you answer them? How might you solve their problems and simplify the decision process? Which products and services would be most valuable and why? How would they be used? How would your solution be unique? What constitutes a 'deal killer'? What matters for establishing your trustworthiness?

5. Which are the best tools to use as you develop the content that addresses your personas' needs? Think both physical -e.g., a business card with QR code - and digital - e.g., that QR code will connect to a landing page on your website with specific and relevant information. Does one persona live by text message? Is another tied to a desktop computer? Think how you might use several tools to support and promote a primary message. Remember to write for people and, more specifically, your personas. 

What do you consider important for developing meaningful personas? How do you use your personas to guide your content?

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Image credit: Personas on

Topics: inbound marketing, content marketing

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