The key to creating marketing content your audience will love is taking the time to research, listen to and understand your clients and target clients . Without that preparation you can’t begin to plan your content, create the messages that will be effective at attracting and keeping clients, and know where the most effective places are to share it. In this blog I’ll give you tips to help you understand your clients better. This will allow you to create effective content marketing activity that your customers or prospects will love and act on.
Create your client persona
In marketing we use a term called a client persona or buyer persona. Client personas are general, fictional portrayals of your ideal clients. You will already have identified the groups or segments of clients who will use your product or service (your target market). But how well do you really know them? A client persona drills down deeper into each segment.
A client persona creates a story about what type of people they are, what their daily lives are like and what their goals and challenges are. From this better understanding of your customers you can define how your product or service fits into their lives and solves their challenges.
You can then address your messages and content marketing activity (e.g. your elevator pitch, copywriting, website content, blogs, newsletters, advertising and social media) at meeting the specific needs and challenges of your customers.
What information goes into a client persona?
There are lots of models and templates available online to help you build a persona. Hubspot has an online wizard that helps you generate a persona.
Here’s my simple list of things you should consider:
- Give your persona a name and add an image e.g. Sarah Small Business Owner, Fred the Food Lover etc. This helps you to picture the people you are targeting.
- List their demographics, i.e. gender, age, location (geography and rural/urban), job, relationships/family, income, level of education, interests. If it’s a person in business, detail their job title, level of seniority and where they influence the buying process.
- What is their typical daily life? What do they do at work and at home?
- What are their long-term goals? Consider both their business and personal life. What results do they want to achieve?
- What are their immediate challenges and issues? What are the biggest concerns that keep them awake at night or stop them achieving their goals?
- What objections do they have to buying your product or service? What are their concerns? What’s stopping them from buying from you?
- Where might they find your business? What do they read, where do they go on the internet and social media? Do they prefer to network and get recommendations from peers or friends?
Where do you get the information to help you build a client persona?
Don’t rely on your assumptions or guesswork to build your client personas. The most effective client personas are based on the insights you collect from your own clients and market research. You can get this in a few ways:
- Talk to your clients and prospects, and even those that didn’t buy, in person or over the phone. Note down quotes about their goals, their challenges and their objections. You will often see a pattern emerging.
- Ask clients or prospects how they found you, why they approached you over others, and why they chose you in the end.
- Run a survey or online questionnaire to your database of contacts (Survey Monkey is a good, easy to use and free system).
- If you capture details of people downloading information from your website ask a few key questions on the form (but not too many as people can be turned off by completing a long form).
- Your Google, Twitter and Facebook analytics will give you an idea of the demographics of your website visitors. This article from Social Media Examiner will help you create client personas from analytics.
- Investigate comments on social media and blogs by your clients and look at comments or reviews left on websites and blogs similar to yours, including those of your competitors’.
Once you’ve made your client personas what do you do with them?
Depending on your business, you could have only one or two personas or 10 or more. Once you’ve gathered information on each persona you should be able to see how your product or service fits into their lives and how it helps them achieve their goals and overcome their challenges. This helps to:
- Develop your marketing messages in a way that shows empathy towards your persona. You know their daily challenges, you know what they are striving to achieve and you can describe how your product or service provides a solution for them.
- Make your marketing messages more persuasive, relevant and engaging for your persona. Making your introductory pitch or your website and literature content more relevant will make it more likely to be acted on.
- Plan your content marketing. If you know who you are writing for and what their problems or goals are, you can create and share content on your website and social media that helps and informs your personas. If your personas find content relevant they are more likely to share it to others.
- Create effective case studies and testimonials. If a case study shows how you solved a problem for one client persona, others in that persona group are more likely to take notice. Likewise, if a testimonial comes from people who fit your client persona, it’s seen as more relevant to others in the same persona. People trust their peers.
- Know where to find your personas and where to target your promotion. Understanding your audience and which groups or meetings they attend, which social media platforms they use or which magazines they read allows you to better match your message with the right audience. Remember that social media advertising on platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook allow you to create targeted adverts from very specific demographics. You can also seek out people who fit your personas and connect with them through social media.
Taking time to consider your client personas gives you the benefit of targeting the right potential clients with appropriate messages in the right place and at the right time. This saves you time and money from blasting wishy-washy marketing messages to everyone and everywhere, makes your marketing activity more successful and increases your return on your marketing investment.