Content that connects: the proper use of buyer personas

“She was a bold-looking girl of about twenty-seven, with thick dark hair, a freckled face, and swift, athletic movements…”

You might view ‘buyer personas’ a bit like this description of Julia from George Orwell’s Nineteen Eight-Four – vaguely interesting, somewhat entertaining, but with no real relevance to the serious business of content marketing.

There’s no arguing that buyer personas read a bit like something out of a novel.

“Shelley is 24-years-old, female and Chinese. Having studied a BComm at Auckland University, she now lives in an apartment in the city and works as an analyst for a research company in Penrose. She is pragmatic, ambitious, polite but determined etc. etc. etc.

Such descriptions may well leave you wondering, “so what?”

You may think: We have 5,000 customers and there may be a Shelley out there, but it has no relevance to the other 4,999 customers. Each person is a different and unique individual with little or no relevance to so-called buyer personas. Demographics, on the other hand…

And you would be both right, and wrong.

The purpose of buyer personas, to my mind, is not to narrowly define the target market.

There real value is in their ability to establish empathy between you – the content creator – and your audience.

When you create a piece of content for a vague, general audience that is out there somewhere, your content will lack real power to connect.

Professional speakers, for example, will fix on a handful of people in the audience and will speak to them – he will look to make eye contact with those people.

The result is a conversation that connects.

Buyer personas are a bit like eye contact for content creators.

If you were talking to somebody in a conversation, would you say things like: “Expect more, pay less!”?

Instead, think about how you would engage with somebody face to face. Aren’t you more likely to probe their needs, address their concerns, empathise?

So then, why treat the content you create any differently?

When you create content for a real person – imagined or real – you are communicating, not broadcasting; you’re looking to connect by addressing the specific needs of another warm, breathing, living, talking human being… rather than being vague or features or benefits focussed, your content will connect powerfully.

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