She was the portrait of a Language Stars mom. As a teacher, she understood that the window of language development was wide open between the ages of one to five years old, so she enrolled her children in Language Star’s Spanish immersion classes. She communicated the company’s mission with enthusiasm to other Moms. She organized free classes for neighbor children in her home and coordinated an after school program at her children’s elementary school. She was the ideal brand ambassador and thus, felt very honored when the company’s executives asked her to spend two hours with them.
They wanted to pick her brain to better understand what drove her involvement with the brand. She gladly did it in exchange for $200 and a few discounted classes for her kids. Was it worth Language Star’s time and effort to identify personas with the help of this customer and others like her? Absolutely. The company grew from three sites in the Chicagoland area to over twenty-one in two states in just ten years.
What are Personas?
Good writers clarify their client’s audience, so that they can accordingly adjust language choice, accent, tone, logic, and voice. Personas are basically audience segments.
Ardath Albee, author of Up Close and Persona, defines personas as, “a composite sketch, representative of a segment of your target market.” The sketch is much more defined than a broad audience overview. For example, Language Stars could have stopped short of realizing all income avenues by categorizing their target demographic as “moms.” Their product or service development and marketing would have been relegated to what their employees felt all moms would appreciate. Those categorizations would be based on subjective verses empirical information.
Successful authors use personas to organize fictional characters and their relationships with others. Businesses use information from real people to create profiles of the customers they represent.
As a web writer you’re often at the mercy of the company’s SEO or marketing manager to provide vision for the content you write. Your knowledge beyond periods and comas becomes evident when you ask for customer personas to help you to write blog posts, social media posts, and web content. As a marketing manager, it ought to be standard practice within your organization to interview customers, to develop profiles based on observation and data, and to deliver detailed personas to the brand’s writers.
How Much Content Does Each Persona Need?
There is a formula floating around the web. Jay Baer suggests:
“Essentially, your initial list of questions can be generated using this formula:
Number of Personas X Number of Buying Stages X Number of Questions in Each Stage = Number of Questions You Need to Answer
In our hypothetical example, we’d need 5 X 8 X 3 = 120 questions answered. Even if you have a FAQ today, I can almost guarantee it covers far less than 120 questions.”
Albee didn’t factor in buying stages when she made the following comment:
Let’s say you come up with 12 questions that you know your prospect or your persona has to answer in order for them to agree that the decision to buy is the best choice, to buy from you. So, let’s say you can answer each question two or three different ways. So, now you have the possibility, the possibility of 24 to 36 pieces of content.
You can do the math as to how much personas will cost you, but what of the value?
Success with Personas
Rachel Sprung highlighted seven companies that successfully understand their buyers’ personas. Like Language Stars, the company that understands its customers and niches is going to have more success interacting with them. From Jenny Craig to Orbitz companies are creating personas to better understand their customers and to connect through interests.
Tips for Writing Content Based on Personas
1. Research the persona’s interests, hobbies, activities, and stances.
2. Play with the voice of the article based on your persona’s gender, ethnicity, age, and experience.
3. Work on the opening lines, supporting arguments, and conclusions of your blog posts to make sure they are in line with the way your persona would view the world. For example, would the persona be persuaded more by data or by personal success stories?
4. Align vocabulary with your persona’s education level. Learn how to raise or to lower the reading level of your content through MS Word’s spelling and grammar tool in Tools and then Options menus.
5. Make connections. Who would your persona look up to as a mentor or fellow brand enthusiast? Link to their content and connect with these individuals through social media.
6. Ask one of these connections to read your article for feedback before publishing.
7. Think about the pictures and infographics that will most likely move your persona to buy or move into the next stage of the buying cycle.
What are some of the techniques you’ve used to write articles based on appealing to certain personas?