You first learned this skill when you were five, but, it was lost by adulthood.
It’s time for this skill to make a comeback.
It’s a lesson you learned as a kid – when you really wanted something, there were two components critical to the success of your request.
First step was knowing your audience (“Should I ask mom if I can get a puppy, or dad?”). The second was to create a compelling story that would convince your target to grant your request. (“Jenny’s mom is letting her do it!”).
You quickly discover that missing either element in your request will result in very low odds of a successful appeal. With time, you probably discovered that Dad is the go-to guy for the pre-dinner cookie, but (and this is critical) you further discovered that, if you told Mom you want to go to your friend’s house because her dad will help you with your geometry homework, and you’ll return home by 8pm – your request will be granted.
This is the age old marketing art of understanding your target audience.
Whether you’re sending an email, crafting compelling web content, designing a full-fledged advertisement, or convincing your dad to allow a treat before dinner, there’s a critical element of irresistible content you can’t afford to ignore.
It’s buyer personas.
Buyer personas are essentially a snapshot of your customer that provides an understanding of your target audience and what makes them tick. Even an excellent product will be ignored if marketed incorrectly.
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Understand their key frustrations during the day.“Walk in their shoes” and find out why they’re holding back tears as their head hits the pillow at night, or why they whistle happily as they enter their cubicle in the morning – and capture that pain point.
Address what matters to them when you talk about your product. If you’re marketing your cookbook to a busy mom, you’d likely draw out the easy to prepare meals, or the meals even the pickiest child will enjoy. On the other hand, if you’re marketing to personal fitness trainers, you’d proclaim the health benefits of the recipes – highlighting the nutritional value of recipes and the potential health gains from eating the recipes contained in the book.
See where we’re going here? A busy mom probably won’t care if she can build three times the muscle mass by following the recipes in your book, and a fitness trainer likely won’t be excited by the dozens of ideas for teaching your child to cook contained at the end of the book.
Know what matters to your reader, and you can wrap them around your finger.
To discover what keeps your audience up at night, ask key questions to get into their mind and figure out who they are. This will take time, and, at first, some conjecture. But, as you work with your audience and learn, you can hone your hunches into insights.
Here are a few key questions to ask:
These are just a few questions to get you started! HubSpot has a list of 100 questions to ask when creating buyer personas, and it’s well worth a gander.
As you’ll quickly discover, you’re essentially creating a story character. Every piece of content you create should be geared toward that character. Not only will this give you a starting place for your writing, you’ll also know what NOT to write. To put it simply, write what your character would want to read, and scratch anything they wouldn’t!
A final warning: don’t assume you know everything! After you’ve crafted your perfect buyer, you’ll feel emotionally attached to her. After all, you created her. You know her likes and dislikes, you know the names and ages of her kids, if she likes her boss, and whether or not you’d ever catch her in the grocery store without makeup.
But, don’t neglect to test the content you’ve written for her. Once you’ve published your work, follow the metrics and be sure it’s engaging your real readers, not only the one you masterfully crafted on your side of the computer screen. Be willing to pivot, talk with actual customers, and carefully watch the success rate of each piece of content!
If something isn’t hitting the mark – scrap it! It’s likely you don’t need to go back to square one, you’ve probably just missed a detail somewhere.
Consider this: perhaps your mom wouldn’t let you go to the party “because Jenny is going”,” but would gladly allow you if, instead, you explained that your principal was throwing a party for honor roll students, and Jenny is going because she made the “A” honor roll as well.
See the difference? Setting the right framework is really the difference between good copy and bad, and between getting a “yes” and rejection.
If a message fails, tweak your wording, play with the small details, and try again. Carefully note your successes and, at the intersection of the two, you’ll find your content sweet spot, and insight into your buyer.
What first steps will you take to create your target buyer?
Photo credit: greg westfall/ Creative Commons