You can’t write quality content in a vacuum. You have to know who you’re writing for.
And to do that, you need to have fully-developed buyer personas — profiles of the basic types of individuals you are targeting. Your buyer personas tell you: Who is your audience? What are their needs, problems and values? And how best can you reach them?
Simply developing buyer personas is not enough, of course. Once you create them, you use them as reference points for your content writing. When working on a blog entry or an e-book you check your content against the buyer persona, ensuring that what you’re producing will actually meet the needs and hold the interest of the folks you are, ostensibly, writing for.
This means your content needs to be customized: you may end up writing two different blog entries for two different personas, or two different segments of your audience. That’s all well and good, but it begs the question: How do you actually make them distinct from one another? What are the considerations to make as you ensure that Blog 1 matches with Persona A, and Blog 2 goes with Persona B?
Start by asking yourself these five questions.
Five Questions to Tailor Your Content to Buyer Personas
1. What are the values of this audience?
A stay-at home mom is going to have different values (her time, family-friendliness, budget) than a corporate executive (the bottom line). Your writing should reflect that.
Writing a blog about cost savings makes sense if your persona is budget-sensitive, but not necessarily if your persona falls into the luxury camp. (Jaguar dealerships don’t advertise their cars as “affordable” because they’re not, and because their owners don’t really want them to be; the high price tag carries prestige.)
But knowing the values of your audience doesn’t just determine what you write about, but also how you write it. Your stay-at-home mom likely prefers something conversational, down-to-earth, funny, photo-rich and — above all — short! A small business owner may have greater desire for an in-depth and technical guide, something a little longer and more formal, perhaps.
2. What are the pain points?
This is sort of the flipside. You want to showcase your brand/product/service as the solution to your customer’s problem, and that means knowing what the problem is. Maybe the product you’re selling is an HVAC system. For some buyers, the problem is going to be the need for something money-saving and energy efficient. For others, the problem is that they’re hot and they need something that will cool them down pronto. Look to your buyer persona to determine the pain point you need to address.
3. Where and how will they be reading?
Your buyer personas can provide you with some insight into formatting. Read through your buyer persona and ask yourself: Is this person likely to be reading this article on her laptop while sipping morning coffee? On the iPad on Friday evening? On his mobile phone while waiting in the doctor’s office or riding the train? This is speculative, to some extent, but may still provide some basic direction about paragraph length, the use of bullet points and images, and other formatting concerns.
4. Do your buyers want to be talked to or talked with?
It is often said that content marketing is a conversation, though this may be somewhat misleading. Yes, some buyers will want to read something that is conversational in tone — but others are looking for instruction, clear dictation on what to do or how to do it. Let your buyer persona guide you.
5. What action do you want your buyer to take?
When writing to consumers, you may wish to direct your writing toward a sale. When writing to someone in the corporate hierarchy, though, your buyer may not actually be the buyer at all, but rather someone who advises and confers with the real decision-maker — and if that’s the case, then you may want to think of your content as planting a seed, not necessarily pushing a hard sell.
Writing tailored content is ultimately about understanding the people you are writing to — and that starts with asking a few basic questions.
Any other recommendations? Leave me a comment.