Marketing personas: How to perfectly target your content marketing
If you want to win clients through content marketing, you need to understand their needs. This is where a marketing persona can help.
Personalisation and segmentation have become watchwords in all aspects of business, but particularly in marketing. Your clients are all individuals, and should be treated as such.
Marketing communications cannot be tailored to each client’s individual needs. Yet dividing your client base into separate groups can help you to create targeted content that is more likely to engage them. To achieve this, you should develop what are known as marketing personas.
What is a marketing persona?
Marketing personas (also known as buying personas) are fictional, generalised representations of your clients. Personas enable you to illustrate the types of person you're trying to relate to - you build different client profiles based on the data you hold.
You will already have a lot of demographic information about your clientbase, such as their age, annual earnings, size of business and the frequency with which they use your services. A marketing persona is all about putting flesh on the bones of this data and giving different client groups a more rounded personality, as well as a name.
This enables you to tailor content that is more relevant to different client types and meets their business needs.
What information should I include in a marketing persona?
There are numerous marketing persona templates available on the web, which will enable you to create marketing personas relevant to your clients. You should include their job title, information about their company and the details about their role, such as their day-to-day responsibilities, in the persona.
Demographic information such as their age, gender, location (whether they live in a rural or suburban area), education level and family details (such as number of children) should also be included.
You may want to include additional information, such as hobbies your marketing persona may enjoy and quotes from actual clients who have typified a business problem that is relevant to others. Thinking about the publications and blogs your persona is likely to read is also important so that you adopt the correct tone of voice in your content strategy.
Finally, you should assess what the marketing persona’s goals and challenges are and how you can help them achieve their goals or overcome challenges. It is recommended that you create between three and five marketing personas - a large enough range to adequately represent the diversity of your client base but small enough to not be over-specific.
Example marketing persona - Amir
Amir is 27 and runs a tech company that employs ten full-time employees. His employees divide their time between working in an office and working from home, so only five are ever in the office at any one time. Amir doesn’t believe in micro-management so he just spends 30% of his working time in the office.
Amir is single and likes to socialise with friends and travel, particularly to skiing destinations in the winter and scuba-diving destinations in the summer. Wherever he is, he is always working on his tablet or smartphone and he sees every social occasion as a networking opportunity, which is, up until now, how business growth has been achieved.
Business challenges: Amir is always on the go so business growth has been relatively organic. Yet Amir feels he needs to take the business to the next level but hasn't got a growth strategy in place.
Marketing solution: Amir is more likely to respond to marketing conducted on social media as he often deletes emails that are not from friends or direct business contacts. As he is highly mobile, he is more likely to watch a two-minute video on growth strategy than read a white paper. He may then open a dialogue by leaving a comment on the video.
Example marketing persona - Sue
Sue, 47, is a recent divorcee, with a 16-year-old daughter and an 18-year-old son, who runs a market research agency from a shared office space. She has four part-time employees but also uses a pool of freelance workers when required. Sue tends to spend most of her time in the office and leaves the field work to her team.
Sue’s children often tease mum about her lack of technological ability and have only just managed to get her to open a Facebook account, which she barely uses. She prefers contact through email and phone and likes to spend time at her desk, digesting business information from professional journals and the trade press.
While Sue has been running her business for ten years, and she is an expert in market research, her husband managed most of the finer details relating to finances.
Business challenges: Due to the nature of the divorce, Sue can no longer rely on her husband to do the accounting and she is unsure of her auto-enrolment responsibilities because she does not have any full-time employees.
Marketing solution: Sue is more likely to engage with a white paper that is sent via email. Sue would be interested in white papers that look at auto-enrolment, succession planning and cloud accounting. Once she has digested this information, she is likely to pick up the phone to discuss her needs further.
How will personas help my marketing efforts?
As we have seen, Amir and Sue are likely to react very differently to alternative types of marketing communications. Neither of these marketing approaches (an emailed white paper or a video hosted on social media) are necessarily right or wrong; they will just have a different impact on different types of clients.
Therefore it makes sense to think about exactly who you are targeting when you create a content marketing campaign or strategy, which marketing personas will enable you to do.