You may be wondering why we’re talking about content personas when we’ve already covered brand personas. It can be easy to get them confused, but they’re actually quite different. A brand persona is whom you are as a brand, the defining personality traits that make up the core of your mission.

Content personas (also known as marketing personas and buyer personas) are, essentially, individuals you create who represent your target audience. You put together all the components of the different people you’re trying to reach to get a clear picture of how to best reach them. Let’s look at how to create them for your business.

 But First, Why?

You already know who your audience is, so why do you need to bother with putting together profiles of fake people telling you things you think you already know? Honing in on your audience allows not only you, but everyone contributing to your content in any way to better understand how to engage the audience. They can create ideas with the audience in mind and execute it in a way they know the audience will digest it.

If you know the background of the people you’re reaching out to, you can tailor great content specifically to them instead of trying to guess what they might like or be interested in. Do your business a favor and put time and effort into creating content personas.

Where Do I Start?

One of the biggest mistakes you can make when creating a content persona is making up information. It may seem tempting when you have an idea about who your audience is, but you will get so much more out of the persona if you go through the correct channels to gather your information.

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You’ll want to collect data through your own research and market research. Demographic information alone isn’t enough to build a persona. Don’t worry; there are plenty of tools that make this research easier on you.

What Information Do I Collect?

As previously mentioned, demographic information alone isn’t all you’ll need, but you will need it. Basic demographic information includes:

  • Career responsibilities/day-to-day, job title, salary, industry, company size
  • Family size, household income, location, homeowner or renter
  • Education
  • Age
  • Gender

After you get those basics, you’ll need to learn some more personal information. We’re not talking social security numbers and mother’s maiden names; we’re talking about who this is as a person. Other general information you’ll need includes:

  • Goals
  • Challenges
  • Fears
  • Values
  • Hobbies/Interests

While these are all pretty basic questions, you’ll want to go a little deeper. You need to find out how they get new information, how they make decisions, and how they spend their money. Some of the things you’ll want to know include:

  • What decisions do they make in a typical day?
  • Where do they get information? Social networks? Newspapers? Magazines? Blogs? Talking to people? TV?
  • Which newspapers, magazines, and/or blogs do they read?
  • Do they participate on social media platforms? If so, which platforms?
  • How do they find new information about products they’re interested in buying? Do they do online research or ask people they know?
  • How do they select vendors?
  • What are their objections, if any, to your product or service?
  • How would your product or service help solve their problems?
  • Where do they prefer to shop?
  • Which types of purchases do they prefer to spend the most money on?
  • What stresses them out?
  • What worries them?
  • What’s their budget? Do they stick to a budget?

Take the time to figure out which questions are going to make the most sense for your business. There are plenty of lists of questions online, short and long, but it’s important that you don’t get caught up in meaningless information. It’ll just cost you time, and time is money.

How Do I Collect This Information?

The tools we linked to are a great jumping off point. Not only can you use those tools for methods such as customer surveys and interviews, but you should also consider grabbing information from interactive content, such as quizzes. However, buyer interviews and surveys are perfect ways to get the exact information you need from the exact people you need it from.

Speaking of the exact people you need it from, your sales team is a great resource for knowing whom to target with your surveys and interviews. They’ll know long-time and satisfied customers. They’ll have some solid insight into who is buying what you’re selling so you’ll know who to reach out to.

Want another accurate place to easily find your audience? Check your site analytics.

Putting it All Together

content personas

Image via Flickr by Travis Isaacs

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Once you’ve surveyed and interviewed your buyers, you’ll have plenty of information. Now, it’s time to categorize that information. This is how you’ll make your personas.

One of the queens of content personas, Adele Revella, makes it clear that you shouldn’t go too crazy. It’s easy to get swept up in creating them, but if two segments of your audience have similar goals and challenges, they don’t require two separate personas. Once you can clearly categorize however many personas come to light through your research, which is to say, how many key and different segments of your audience there are, you can compile that information.

Give each persona a name. It’s helpful if you assign a general attribute to a name as well. For example, you could call a persona “Craft Cathy” or “Comfort Caroline.” Putting a name to a persona helps everyone quickly and easily identify who you are trying to target. Include the name, a stock image of a person the persona represents, and the information you’ve gathered for this persona clearly listed in a document. This makes it easy for everyone who needs it to get a copy.

Content personas are an important part of a content marketing strategy.  They narrow your focus so you can create content tailored to specific segments of your audience with specific problems you can solve. By taking the time to create personas, you save a lot of time down the road when it’s time to reach your exact audience.

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