Remember Romper Room?
When I was a kid, I watched Romper Room. Maybe you did too.
Every show, Miss Helen would hold up the “magic mirror” and, as if looking through the TV screen say, “I see Jimmy, and Sally, and Joseph”…and whatever other name popped into her head that day.
Mention the show to anyone who watched it and you’re likely to hear “She never called my name!”
But when she did call your name…
…Oh my, when she did, do you remember how much brighter the day felt? The connection you felt? And all because the lady on TV said your name.
Your “magic mirror”:
In content marketing, we create “personas,” like profiles but more insightful, to help us create more relevant content for members of our target audience.
When we create content that is really helpful or resonant to someone, they feel a connection to the brand that brought them the content.
They build trust with the brand.
Your personas are your “magic mirror” into the people you need to influence through the content you create.
What are personas?
Personas are based on an important segment of your target audience.
You can build them based on one specific person from within your target audience.
More frequently, each persona is a composite of a few different people.
Personas can be based on:
- current customers
- past customers
- ideal customers
They should be based on real people, preferably those you have spoken to.
Why are personas necessary?
There are certain paradoxes in the creative world that seem counter-intuitive.
To tackle a big issue, you have to tell a small story.
And to reach a very big crowd, you have to talk to just one person.
Think of it this way:
I wish I could find it online (I looked) but I read an article a few years ago by a journalist who, with her husband, had a terrible accident in the Grand Canyon.
It was a harrowing blow by blow account of everything that had gone wrong.
And it started with “Dear, Aunt Helen.”
I actually can’t remember the real aunt’s name, but Helen was good enough for the Lady on Romper Room, so…
The writer explained in the article that she had tried to write the story several times but had failed. In writing for a general audience, she found she was glossing over certain things and embellishing others and, because this had been probably the biggest event in her life, she decided she needed to write it completely truthfully.
And the best way she could think of doing that was through a letter to her aunt.
Writing to a persona
In a very loose sense, she was writing to a persona.
She was writing to someone she felt she knew very well. And giving them the information she felt they would need to be able to read and make sense of this incredible series of events that had befallen her.
Less is more:
It depends on the situation and the audience but most brands need far fewer personas than they think.
Often 3 is enough.
And the personas need to be created based on interviews with real people, not made up out of thin air.
Patterns will emerge:
As you develop personas, you will start to see certain patterns in people’s needs and behaviors that will allow you to more easily group them together in one persona.
Sometimes you will group them together demographically (age, sex, location) but that might yield fewer insights than by grouping people into a single persona based on attitude or behaviour.
How much info you need:
Some people advocate for very short (one slide) personas. I’m inclined towards more detailed ones.
Regardless, it’s important to only include relevant information that will help bring that persona alive to content creators.
The Buyer Persona Institute:
For b2b marketers, particularly around high consideration products or services, The Buyer Persona Institute has a very good course you can take.
You can also hear its president, Adele Revella, and I talk about buyer personas on the Reimagine PR podcast.
Personas and your editorial calendar:
Your entire editorial calendar should be devoted to content creation that makes life easier or richer for your personas.
And every piece of content should be measured against how useful or meaningful the particular persona will find it.
Make them real and keep them close:
In time, your persona will become a kind of shorthand. Some content marketers keep them posted wherever they are so they can keep those particular people in mind.
And every persona should have a picture so they can be as real as possible to your content creators.
Personas are one of the most useful tools you can have in creating good content for your specific audience.
Do it right, and you’ll your customer feeling like the lady on Romper Room just called their name.