Buyer personas are a common tool that businesses and marketers use to understand—and deliver more targeted content to—segments of their audience and customer base. Sure, this sounds like an extra step, but well-developed, fleshed-out buyer personas make it easier to create content and copy that these niches will respond to.
In general, I like personas because they help marketers create actionable insights, programs, and plans based on a deeper understanding of their buyers. Plus, they’re a great tool for creating confidence in strategies that persuade buyers to choose you over a competitor (or no choice at all).
As a writer, personas are extremely helpful because they help me pinpoint the buyer’s specific needs, motivations, etc., giving me a specific person to write to. And if you really want to make me happy, give me a visual representation of that persona so that he/she is real to me.
As whole, personas are great. Until they aren’t.
Are Your Personas Problematic?
Not all personas are created equally. Having weak or inaccurate buyer personas is a common mistake because most businesses don’t know to re-visit them (and, of course, test them). If you haven’t questioned your buyer personas in a while, it’s time to take a second look, even if they’re helping you get results.
Some things to look for:
They’re too aspirational. Some buyer personas will be aspirational and may not reflect the actual audience, instead reflecting the customer the company wishes to have. While there is nothing wrong with this particular persona, it may not accurately reflect the targeting and content necessary to achieve your immediate goals.
They don’t focus on the buying decision. While it’s critical to understand the audience and who they are, we can’t forget how to audience interacts with the product and how they decide to purchase.
They’re not targetable. You may have created the greatest persona ever, but if it doesn’t match targeting criteria on social platforms, you’re missing a huge opportunity. These criteria can include things, such as a clearly defined custom audience, job title, level of education, relationship status, or interests.
They’re too similar. Personas should help you separate and target diverse and unique niches in your audience, and should also be diverse, too. If you get your buyer personas confused, they’re too similar.
So Now What?
As you’re crafting your personas (and I say this with caution as I believe your brand probably only needs a couple of personas and should focus primarily on the main one), here are some questions to ask:
- What types of content do your target customers use?
- What topics are they interested in?
- What problems do they need to solve?
- Which channels do they use?
- Where are they in the buyer journey?
- What keywords are they using to search?
- What questions are they asking?
The answers to these questions can help your content team produce and deliver the materials that will help lead to insights for your target personas.
Selfishly, I will say that having the right personas make content and copy generation significantly easier. If I was to sit down and stare at a persona while trying to think of a headline for a social ad or blog post and nothing comes to mind after ten minutes, that persona is pretty much useless to me. The same is true if the best I can do is to come up with generic, vague headlines. Personas are all about specificity and, as my high school English teacher liked to say, “the specific is terrific.”