Yes, it’s true, you can truly rock at finding your blog’s best target persona. Once you do, you’ll have a way to consistently use your blog as an effective weapon in your content marketing arsenal. That’s why I really love personas and highly recommend that all of my clients take the time to walk through this process with their blogs.
Personas are simply a way to understand a target audience–generally for marketing and sales purposes. In this post, we’ll be specifically talking about your blog’s target persona, which may actually be different from other persona types your company uses (more on that later). You need to zero-in on that best persona for your blog so you can ensure your posts are targeting and reaching the right people.
You’ll need to do a little research and soul searching to make this successful, but I promise it’s worth it.
WHat a persona is, and what it’s not
It shouldn’t be THIS hard, but there’s no guarantee you and Sales will start on the same page. Ugh.
First, though, before we get deep into the process, let’s clear the air about what a blog persona will do and won’t do for your business and your blog.
A persona will:
- Give you a target, imaginary personality to “write to”
- Prevent your blog from trying too hard to be everything for everyone
- Force you to decide what your blog is supposed to accomplish
- Help you relate to other departments in your company and understand what their relationship to marketing and sales really is
Personas won’t (or don’t):
- Be a panacea for preventing irrelevant posts (you’ll still need to communicate with readers and listen)
- Replace the nuance of individual buyer (or reader) personalities, circumstances, and needs (personas aren’t immune to unhelpful stereotyping and they are, by necessity, very simplistic)
- Allow a “set-it-and-forget-it” approach (you’ll have to constantly revisit what you’re doing to make sure it’s still working)
- Always align with who your buyers are (in many companies, the buyer and the blog reader are different people with different roles; always understand your sales funnel and cycle so you know the difference!)
B2B Tech BLog persona crash course (A Really Short one)
Okay, it’s way past time we dive-in and start working on your blog’s persona. Who reads your blog, anyway, and why does this matter?
Who IS this person? How did the photographer know I needed such an enigmatic photo for this post?
Start thinking carefully about your readers and begin gathering any data you have on who’s using your blog. When you’re ready, start putting it to paper or typing it out.
Let’s get to know your readers:
- Demographics: Know your basic stats on typical readers. What’s the typical age, education level, and employer? Are your customers self-employed, do they work in marketing, are they at the VP level? Don’t forget the demographics of their employer, either. Do your readers work at mid-size real estate firms? Companies with $3 million to $10 million in revenue? If you can’t answer these questions, it’s your job to figure out how to find the answers.
- Personalities and personal lives: This might sound a little like stereotyping, so you’ll have to be careful not to make the wrong assumptions or really mess this up, but knowing a little bit about how your readers typically operate on a personal level can help you create content that resonates with them. Quick tip: One of the best strategies for learning about your readers is by jumping over to LinkedIn–if you know the typical job title and industry your readers are in, you can search for five or six profiles and start looking for common threads. Did they generally graduate from similar colleges, list the same hobbies, or use the same words to describe the work they do? Can you identify priorities and needs based on the language they use? For instance, maybe you notice HR directors at mid-size healthcare companies typically seem very interested in order, words like “alignment” and priorities like promoting diversity at work.
- Are they buyers? Talk to your sales department if you want more insight here. It’s very common for companies buying B2B software to have multiple people involved in the procurement process for getting new technology, and other employees who don’t have final say may also be involved in the decision. Your task is to bring the sales and marketing teams together to decide what the blog’s supposed to do and who’s supposed to be reading it. Usually, your buyers will be one of the personas reading your blog (what? Did she just say “one of”?).
- Yes, you can have more than one persona. No, you shouldn’t get carried away here. You probably will have one or two, you probably won’t have ten. This may require a bit of a judgement call on your part. Having too few personas might mean you’re missing out on who’s actually reading, which means you might not be serving your readers. Having too many may mean you’re trying to make your blog everything to everyone. Here’s some tough love–without a few clear personas, you’re writing a blog that doesn’t have a niche that works. You’re alienating somebody or missing out on your blog’s potential. Don’t write for an entire company of people. Write for decision-makers, users, and buyers. Pick a primary audience and have another one or two in mind. And remember, the public is also reading now and then–your blog is also a form of PR, so make it a strong representation of your company.
You’re NOt done
Now that you’ve started the process of learning about your readers, sketch out a summary of your persona. In an upcoming post, I’ll walk you through that process with a fictitious persona and plenty of examples of what we’ve talked about. We’re going to go through an example because it’s so completely important for the health of your blog that you do this correctly and often.
No matter how far you are into this, you’re not done. As long as you’re still blogging and your company is actively pursuing sales and marketing goals, you’re never done trying to learn more about who reads your content and who buys your stuff. Environments change and the market changes. Never forget that.