“In writing, your audience is one single reader. … Pick out one person — a real person you know, or an imagined person and write to that one.”
It’s good advice — and it should be. It came from Pulitzer- and Nobel-Prize-winning author John Steinbeck. Getting specific by directing your content to an audience of one gives your work focus and intention. It’s also just more interesting to read.
Even for those of us who aren’t award-winning novelists, the lesson stands. Targeted content gets results. In fact, 90% of U.S. consumers find personalized marketing content appealing, and 80% are more likely to make a purchase when brands offer personalized experiences.
Read More: How to Generate Leads With Targeted Content (and Move Them Through the Funnel Faster)
A novelist may call this real or imagined person the audience. Digital marketers call them buyer personas.
According to HubSpot, “Buyer personas are fictional, generalized representations of your ideal customers.” The description is based on market research as well as data that you’ve gathered about your customer base.
Personas go beyond the standard demographic data and dig into who your customers are: their thought process, motivations and character traits.
This insight allows marketing experts to create content that connects with the right people — the ones who need your product or service.
We’ve already shared our top tips for building buyer personas. In this post, let’s dig into each of the qualities that make up good buyer personas — and how to integrate them into your awesome content.
Most buyer personas start with key demographic data. This is the information you most likely already have access to, such as name, age and location. If you’re a regional business, start with the physical locations you serve. For operations with a wider scope, pay attention to the data as it comes in. You may start to see patterns emerge, and that’s a good thing. Demographic data can help you narrow your focus as you start to build out three to five complete buyer personas.
Go beyond the official job title and find out how your target customers describe what they do. Understanding your customer’s roles also helps you hone in on the decision-makers — the people at an organization who will eventually become leads and then customers.
Let’s say your company distributes cleaning products and sanitation tools to a variety of industries, including health care, food service and hospitality. The title “purchasing agent” only gives you so much information. Is a hospital purchasing agent in charge of ordering sanitation products? If your goal is customer acquisition, knowing who makes the actual decisions is key.
This is a particularly relevant characteristic if your company services multiple industries. In the above example, the cleaning needs of a restaurant group vary widely from that of a hospital. Since you’re targeting both, you’ll need to design specific messaging for each industry. Once you understand how to speak the language of those different markets, it’s easier to use tools like segmentation to target specific groups of customers.
4. Goals And Challenges
What motivates your target customers? Why do they put in the extra work, and what kinds of things keep them up at night?
The answers to these questions may be harder to source directly from customers, but you may have an invaluable source of information in-house: your sales staff. Salespeople specialize in one-on-one interactions and truly understand what individual customers need. Ask:
- What are the most frequently asked questions you get from customers?
- What do customers complain about?
- What delights customers?
The answers to these questions will give you a good idea of what motivates customers and where their pain points are.
5. Lifestyle, Habits, Hobbies
Find out where your target customers spend time. Do they hang out online in Facebook groups or spend more time on Twitter? Do they live in a suburban neighborhood or a walkable downtown?
Ultimately, the goal is to roll the information gathered in these five categories into a complete buyer persona story. This is where you get to go full Steinbeck. Give your persona a name, find a picture and craft a day-in-the-life narrative. Who do they interact with? How do they make decisions? What are some common obstacles or challenges they face during the course of a day?
Need some more inspiration? Check out our blog post How to Create Buyer Personas for tips, tricks and persona examples.
Integrate Buyer Personas Into Your Content
Having a slate of buyer personas is all well and good, but if you don’t know how to use them, they may as well be filed away with that half-written screenplay you’ve been tinkering with.
The whole point of creating personas is to give a face and a name to that audience of one. When you sit down to plan your marketing strategy and tactics, each communications piece — whether it be blog posts, social media or emails — should read like you’re sitting across the table from one of your personas.
Your slate of three to five personas should each represent a different current or potential customer. Use them to build your editorial calendars and tailor blog posts to meet their needs. You can also use online tools to segment your mailing list by persona — ensuring each list gets only messages that resonate with them.
Get Started Writing For Your Audience Of One
Having a clear picture of who you’re writing for (and selling to) makes all the difference when it comes to a content marketing strategy that gets results. If you still don’t know quite where to start, HubSpot’s free Buyer Persona Generator is a great first step.