Are you talking to me?
Well then who the [heck] else are you talking to? I’m the only one here!
You probably recognize those lines from the movie “Taxi Driver” starring Robert De Niro. Arguably one of the most iconic scenes in cinema history, it’s taken badly out of context for this discussion on audience marketing. But hey – it’s fun to quote movies.
Knowing your audience is one of the building blocks of content marketing. In fact, it’s probably the building block of content marketing. Without at least a cursory understanding of what makes your target audience tick, they might take one look at your content and say, “Are you talking to me?”
Perhaps the most effective tool you can use to define your audience – and determine the type of content that will resonate with them – is the buyer persona. Creating personas will help you determine how to reach the right people at the right time and with the right message or offer.
HubSpot defines the buyer persona as “a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on real data and some selected educated speculation about customer demographics, behaviors, motivations and goals.”
I think that’s an excellent definition. When it comes to buyer personas, there are two other things to keep in mind.
One, developing buyer personas is a process. In the process of developing your buyer personas, you’ll make key distinctions about who they are and how to market to them.
Two, buyer personas aren’t demographics; they’re attributes of a population segment. It’s important to think about your buyers as people rather than identifying them by their demographics. The more you can humanize and understand your customers’ wants, needs and pain points, the more relevant and effective your messaging will be.
Creating Buyer Personas
The quality of a buyer persona is directly proportional to the quality and depth of your research. There are several ways you can gather this information.
You can (and should) interview customers and prospects. If that’s not feasible, you could interview your sales reps or other customer-facing colleagues. You can conduct email surveys. You can mine your existing CRM data. You also might take a close look at the social media profiles of customers or prospects who follow your brand.
Sites such as HubSpot, Semrush and Xtensio offer persona generators and templates that can provide structure and help you navigate the process.
As you develop your buyer personas, here are some of the major focus areas:
- Background – Gather basic details about your buyer, such as age, gender and employment status.
- Goals – What does your buyer want in life?
- Challenges – What pain points does your buyer deal with? What frustrates them?
- Content consumption – How does your buyer like to consume content?
- Sources – Where does your buyer go for trusted information?
- Quotes – What is your buyer saying, literally?
- Influence – What is your buyer’s role in the purchasing process?
- Brands – What brands do your buyer identify with?
You’ll need one persona for every distinct group to which you’re marketing. In other words, if a person goes through a different buying cycle, he or she is a different persona.
Once you’ve gathered all this information, here’s what a buyer persona might look like.
Persona Type: Auto Repair Shop Owner
Meet Frank Johnson, 55, sole owner of Johnson’s Auto Service, a single-location, family-run repair shop. Frank, a car lover and jack of all trades, enjoys racing, hunting, fishing, boating, DIY repair and spending time with his family when he’s not working.
Frank’s goals and challenges include keeping his bays filled, finding and keeping good technicians and staying on top of the latest technology trends.
As for his preferred content media, Frank’s generation still appreciates print magazines. However, Frank is tech-savvy, and he’s perfectly comfortable going online to track down parts and technical data. He also regularly participates in live webinars as part of his ongoing training.
Based on our research, we’ve determined that we can help Frank by:
- Serving as a trustworthy source of information, guidance and encouragement
- Keeping him up to date on technology trends and industry news
- Providing small-business coaching and marketing support
For a more detailed picture of this sample buyer persona – and more helpful advice on how to create one – download “Define Your Audience: Marketing to the Right People,” a free e-book from Babcox Media.
Creating buyer personas empowers content marketers to focus their time and energy on leads that might turn into actual customers – as opposed to random people who might not have any interest in your products or services whatsoever.
Once you have a buyer persona, you can align it with other marketing tools such as the buyer’s journey – the various touchpoints on the path leading to a purchase – to create targeted content that has a better chance of resonating with your customers and prospects.
In other words, when your target audience asks, “Are you talking to me?”, you can confidently answer: “Yes, we are talking to you!”
From videos, podcasts and webinars to web/print ads, social media and custom content, Babcox Media can help you engage with your buyer personas through every stage of their purchasing journey – and drive conversions. Still trying to flesh out your buyer personas? Our research department can provide valuable insights and intelligence through surveys, focus groups, phone interviews and other methodologies. Contact us today or talk to your Babcox Media representative to learn more!