0 Comments | Aug 07, 2010

Developing an Effective Content Strategy, Part II: Personas


“….if you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you’ll get on better with all kinds of folks.
You never really understand a person until you
consider things from his point of view
…until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”

– Atticus Finch, To Kill a Mockingbird

This post is a continuation to my previous post, Developing an Effective Content Strategy. Today we’re going to discuss the importance of personas to the creation of highly targeted, customer-centric content.

A persona is the written and visual embodiment of each segment of your audience. Developing and using customer personas is useful to your marketing team in three ways.

  1. Creating audience personas helps you to visual your audience segments as real, three-dimensional people. When you see your audience in this light, you can better understand what motivates them to buy.
  2. Personas help you to see your web site and marketing collateral from your customers’ point of view so that you can provide information that addresses the needs of each audience segment.
  3. The process of creating personas gets your team members on the same page, so that you can work through your different perceptions and create a cohesive marketing strategy. If you take the team approach, I recommend that you include a representative from your sales, product management and customer service teams so that you work from a well-rounded view of your customers.

How to Begin

Your task is to transform each customer type into a real person that you will record “on paper”, including as much information about them as you can.


Start with the facts. First, profile your customer data, such as percentages by job title and management level, gender, education level, geographical area, company size, etc.

Make a persona list. How many different customer types do you have? If your product is HR management software, you may be marketing to the influencer (human resources manager), secondary users (training managers), and the purchase decision maker (CFO). Three customer types, three personas. If you only market to HR managers, are they all from the same size company or industry? What are the logical divisions that would indicate you are dealing with different personas?

White board it. Working through one persona at a time, write down their profile data (see Start with the Facts, above).  Next, list their job pressures, pain points, buying power (decision maker/purchase influencer), responsibilities and interests. How do they like to purchase products? What industry sites do they visit? What magazines do they read? What associations do they belong to? What keeps them up at night? What would entice them to buy your product?

Create your profiles. This is where you write short narratives of two or three paragraphs, describing each persona. Use vivid imagery and tell a story about each person. We should feel as if we know each persona from reading your descriptions. You might even add a stock photo to each persona dossier, which personifies that persona. The object is to know your audience.

Using Your Personas in Your Content Development

Now you have a clear description and a personality on which to focus your content.

Talk to that persona as if you were having a conversation with them. Give them the information that they would need to choose your company and your products.

Next time Mapping Content to the Stages of the Buying Cycle

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