Your Content Marketing strategy sets out to meet a specific need within your organization. You may be looking to drive traffic to your website through SEO, increase brand loyalty, arm your customers with pre-purchase information. Whatever the reason, you must realize that audience is key. Essentially, any time they tune in, your audience is asking the questions, “What’s in it for me? How are you making my life better, my job easier?” If you don’t know who your audience is, there is no way to answer their questions. And no reason for them to keep tuning in.
The short answer to this challenge? To reach your audience, develop personas.
What is Content Marketing?
Search the Web and you’ll find any number of definitions for the term Content Marketing. The formal definition from the Content Marketing Institute reads, “Content marketing is the marketing and business process for creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.” Note for later the inclusion of the phrase, ‘clearly defined and understood target audience’.
In slightly simpler terms, Content Marketing encompasses the breadth of the opportunity to develop awareness, to create and share your content with your target audience. It could take the form of blogs, white papers, press releases, case studies, e-books, podcasts, infographics, videos, surveys. The list goes on. You’ll likely find that the best methods of content sharing will differ for a B2B or a B2C. You’ll also probably discover that certain methods come naturally to your organization, and others will cause you to stretch the boundaries of your established comfort zone. Good.
Why Personas Matter
Personas are fictional representations of the real needs of real people, based on real research. Personas go beyond segmentation to delve into the why, not just the who. They develop a more complete portrait of your audience: who they are and how they got there, what problems they face and what solutions might provide relief, and where they are in their decision making cycle.
Depending on the size of your organization and the number of products or services it markets, you may serve a number of different personas. But one size does not fit all. And every method of Content Marketing does not successfully impact every persona. You risk wasting your marketing efforts and investments when you fail to gear the message, its format and its delivery toward the proper persona.
The flip side of that coin is that in taking the time to develop personas, you can construct a segment of your Content Marketing strategy to specifically target each key persona. Once you put a name and a face to your customer, it becomes more natural to craft a message that will resonate to them personally, and then to find the best delivery channel for maximum impact.
The Hit & Miss:
Let’s say your organization develops a variety of digital/mobile solutions for business and personal use. Three of your personas are:
Millennium Mom - an on-the-go, tech savvy, mid-level professional looking for products that streamline her work environment to allow her more time at home
R&D Robert - a no-nonsense guy who spends his working hours consulting facts and figures and never makes a personal or professional buying decision without doing the same
State U Seth - a college student with a limited discretionary income that comes from his part-time job in the fast food industry and who spends every extra cent supporting his tech habit
Will all three intently read your whitepaper on digital product development? Which one is going to help your video of baby monkeys using cell phones go viral? Whose attention might be grabbed by the high-quality infographic of the best time-saving apps?
The message – it’s backed by expert research and consumer testing; it’s totally cool; it’s going to make getting through all my to do’s so much faster – is tailored to the persona. The channel – opt-in email link, YouTube video, blog-imbedded infographic – is the one regularly utilized by that same persona.
Content Marketing Done Right:
A non-persona targeted Content Marketing campaign can fall short or, worse, can be perceived as irritating white noise. Blasting your full audience with a light-hearted video that might be seen as frivolous to a stolid research engineer may turn off your R&D Roberts. The well-presented, straightforward facts that R&D Robert is looking for would put State U Seth to sleep.
But when Millennium Mom pauses to take in your colorful, informative infographic just as she’s desperately trying to wrap up her day so she can pick up the kids from practice and still get everyone fed before bedtime, you’ve landed a new customer. What you say and how you say it only matter when you’re saying it to the right person, in the right way, at the right time.