Content Marketing

Using Personas to Define Who I Blog For

Whether you’re blogging or broadcasting, knowing your audience is key. It’s the difference between blindly blasting and communicating something of value to a targeted audience. It’s also what defines good marketing. And yet, few explore what knowing your audience really means. Even me as it turns out.

During a recent conversation, Business 380 editor Michael Chevy Castranova noted the abundance of social media content written at the 301 or 401 level that can be somewhat inaccessible or sound like inside baseball to those on the periphery. He went on to say that we need more ‘Lewis and Clark,’ 101 elementary explorations for busy executives trying to get their arms around social media.

And that’s when it dawned on me. Until now, I have not defined who I write for here on this blog and elsewhere. In short, I’ve always tried to write content that helps my clients and potential clients. But who is that?

The Value of Personas
Michael Stelzner’s book Launch reminds us of the impact that creating personas can have on our work. “The broader your audience,” Stelzner notes, “the harder it is to connect with them.” A persona is simply a detailed description of your audience. Detailed as in you come up with fictional names, interests, issues, and more to flesh out this persona thus making it a real person that you can target your work toward.

In the spirit of practicing what I preach, here is a brief overview of the newly developed personas that I write this blog for …

Persona #1 — David Decisionmaker
As an entrepreneur or a head of a business unit, the buck stops with David at his small- to medium-sized company (100–1,000 people). In his heart David is a skilled sales and marketing exec but today he is tasked with leading his business. He is forward thinking about branding and new media but he’s skeptical as well. He needs a quick handle on ‘what’ the concept is and a basic understanding of the ‘why?’

Persona #2 — Melanie Marketer
Mel is a savvy marketer leading her internal team — which could be her alone — to new heights. As the functional implementer she not only needs the ‘how’ for building brand-driven communities, she needs a bit of the ‘why’ as well to push up to David. Mel is the inside champion and probably the more regular reader of this blog. (Don’t take it personally, David. We know you’re busy.)

OK, this was a fun couple paragraphs in the land of make believe but how does this translate into a more-focused blog?

Given the size of their companies and their limited internal teams, time is scarce. The ‘what,’ ‘why,’ and ‘how’ content should all be executive summary level — the Lewis & Clark of social media as Michael noted. Insightful but concise. Right now I aim for a thousand words or less. It also drives the type of content I create. David Decisionmaker wants ‘big think’ like my Disney innovations tips and book reviews. Melanie wants more ‘how’ content like my Google+ executive summary and LinkedIn tips. Knowing these various types of content also allows me to develop a diverse editorial calendar alternating audiences and content type.

Personas also help you find your voice. As I thought about David and Mel I realized that neither of these execs are part of the ‘inside baseball’ team on social media. While I’d like to consider myself a very junior member of this group, my writing is targeted to a very different level than the social media experts. As much as I like reading the big names myself, I’m not writing for them. I’m also not writing for the masses of DIYers out there looking for a post with 10 quick-and-easy steps. I write executive-level summaries explaining brand-driven, new media insights in a concise, 101 voice for medium-sized organizations with limited internal marketing bandwidth.

So there you have it. Personas in place. Greater focus should be on the way.

I Need Your Help
Are you one of these personas? If so, what did I miss that you need from this blog? Is there another group that values my content that I missed? I hope you’ll take a moment and leave a comment below.

Photo via Flickr user DeaPeaJay