Everybody remembers this iconic Taxi Driver scene in which Robert De Niro’s paranoid insomniac character Travis Bickle ask a fictional assailant who he’s talking to.
Although I don’t usually watch films with content marketing in mind, something about this particular scene got me thinking about a current popular technique that’s taking the new marketing world by storm: personas.
In a pseudo-surreal world, Travis is the perfect example of a persona (yes, really) -he just wants to know who’s talking to him and why.
And this is something that all businesses should be addressing in their content. Even though the whole scene was improvised on the spot by De Niro (if Hollywood folklore is to be believed), businesses can no longer get away with improvising their content.
What is a persona?
Personas are fictional models of people that help businesses understand their audience better. With a persona in place content becomes much less about advertising and much more about addressing the needs, pain points and problems of your consumer.
This technique allows a brand to make certain predictions about the behaviour of their audience which affects their decisions to buy, interact with a company and so on.
How do I get the data?
This is the hardest part about creating a persona, after all, you won't just have one. To simplify things, you might just start with one or two and then take it from there.
The best way to find out about your audience is to conduct an interview. There are numerous ways you can do this; you can implement it at the end of the buyer cycle so that a new customer is prompted to complete it after a purchase, or retrospectively, you can send out a questionnaire to all existing customers that have signed up to your mailing list.
Obviously, you won't be able to track down everyone from your audience but a sample will generally give you the relevant information you need.
How ever you choose to do this, there are certain types of information that you need to get from your customers: you need to get demographic info - where they live, age, gender, etc - and you also need more open ended information about their buying process and interests.
For example: how did you shop for our service/product? When did you shop for our service/product? What made you decide on our service/product? And so on.
The marketing funnel
Once you have all this raw data in place, you can start to create your key personas. This means determining how people act at each stage of the buying cycle and developing a persona around this.
Target your content
Now that you have a persona you can target it, sorry, him/her, with your content.
What do you need to generate awareness? Will a blog suffice or is a ‘how to' guide more in keeping with your persona? When your persona is at the action phase, would an infographic give them that little push they need to make the final decision in choosing you over a rival?
What’s more, having put this level of effort into your content you’ll know exactly what to create, removing the need to create content for the sake of it.
So the next time someone asks ‘you talkin’ to me?’ you’ll be able to answer!