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A step-by-step guide to creating content marketing personas

By Michael Brenner 25 June, 2019 0 Comments

The first step of successful content marketing is to really understand who you’re writing for.

You might have some idea that your target audience is in a certain age range or what they’re interested in, but it can still be challenging writing for a faceless crowd, especially if you’re targeting a group that includes thousands.

One trick of the trade of successful novelists is to write for one person only. By writing for one single reader, anticipating how they’ll react to your words rather than trying to appeal to everyone, your writing becomes more engaging and you can find a clear voice.

The same principle works for marketers who want to create engaging content. Write for one person – your “ideal” customer or client – and your words will flow better and be more compelling.

But just who exactly is this person?

This is where content marketing personas come in.

What is a Marketing Persona?

A marketing persona is a profile of a single person who represents one of your target markets. You’ll probably need a few different personas to cover all your markets, but in most cases, you’ll just be writing for one of them when you’re creating a piece of content.

The idea of the marketing persona is to put a human face on that generic group so you should make it as fleshed out and as detailed as possible.

Your marketing personas should always have a name and a photograph (or illustration) – this makes them more memorable and personal.

After this, you can include as much information as is relevant and necessary for your industry and market. You’ll probably include basic demographics, information about what they do for work, and more details about their family life and personal interests.

When you’re finished writing your persona, you should have a picture in your mind of who you’re creating content for – someone you know really well.

Now, personas may be fictional characters, but they’re not dreamed up out of thin air. They still need to represent the actual people who make up your target market. So how do you go about the task of creating a persona that represents your audience accurately?

1. Research

The first step in creating marketing personas always starts with research. You need to learn as much as you can about your target audience.

Your analytics software is a good place to start with this research. You can gather data about who is visiting your site and reading your content including:

  • Location
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Interests
  • Whether they’re new or returning visitors
  • The browser and operating system they’re using
  • Whether they’re using a desktop, mobile, or tablet

If you have access to social media data about your audience, you can get some more detailed information including their likes and dislikes, the brands they engage with, and how they spend their time online.

Using analytics is a good start to get an overview of your current audience. You can glean some useful information from the data but it’s still quite generic.

To get some real insight into the actual people who make up your audience, you can interview them to find out more about their personality, background, challenges, needs, and goals.

2. Split Your Audience Into Personas

Now that you have information about your audience as a whole, you need to look at the information and spot trends in your customer base. This will help you to develop individual personas that you can use when creating marketing content. The number of personas you create depends entirely on your individual business and audience. Some brands may have only one persona, while others may have several. However, most businesses find three to five personas are suitable for their needs.

Look at the different defining characteristics of your audience and see if you can sort them into groups. For example, a car rental company might identify its key groups as:

  1. Men aged 35 – 55 who are traveling for work
  2. Families with parents aged 25 – 35 with one to three children on vacation

  3. Couples aged 20 – 40 on a city break.

Once you’ve identified these main groups, you can start to flesh out the details into unique marketing personas.

3. Create a Marketing Persona Template

Screenshot 2019-06-24 at 10.34.54Image source: https://amywright.me/buyer-persona-questions/

Before you start diving more into the details of each of your target groups, you need to decide what information to include in your marketing persona.

There’s no rule on what you should and shouldn’t include in your persona – it depends on your individual business and what you hope to achieve through content marketing.

Some examples of what you might like to include:

  • Name
  • Job title
  • Age
  • Location
  • Salary
  • Education level
  • Personal and family relationships
  • Likes and dislikes
  • Hobbies
  • Disposable income
  • Challenges
  • Goals
  • Fears

4. Create Your Marketing Personas

Behance Profile

Image source: https://www.behance.net/gallery/18049227/Persona-Templates

Once you have a template to follow, you can use the data from your research to fill out the details as accurately as possible. Remember, your personas should be based on your research but there’s still room for a bit of imagination and poetic license. Adding little details about your personas such as they like watching cooking programs and relaxing with a glass of wine on Friday evenings helps to turn them into real characters and cement them in your mind.

Marketing personas should also be visually attractive and have all the information laid out so you can see it at a glance. You might like to use the services of a graphic designer to construct your personas in a visually appealing way.

Remember to choose a photograph (you can look through stock image sites for this) that you think represents the person in your mind best.

5. Write Content Using Your Marketing Personas

Now that you’ve created your marketing personas, don’t forget to use them! Every time you create a new piece of content you should decide which of your personas you’re writing for and aim to make the content appealing and engaging for them. Your ultimate goal will be to answer their personal needs and challenges.

By this point, the persona should be completely real in your mind. You can think “What does Jane need to know about X?” rather than “What should I write about that relates to X?”

Remember to keep adapting your personas as your audience grows and evolves, and try to get into their head every time you create a new piece of content.

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