What makes content 'remarkable'? Remarkable doesn't mean content is PhD thesis-style, nor is it about how many hours you spend polishing your content. Remarkable content is literally content that will be remarked upon by your audience, so that comes down to adding value to your readers' lives, jobs, or soul.
The hard part here is knowing what will be of value in your readers' lives, jobs, or soul. And that brings me back to a bit of marketing 101: the persona. You can call it knowing your target market, you can call it knowing your customer, or you can call it having a crystal clear persona definition. No matter the nomenclature, with a crystallized picture of WHO you are creating content for, the task gets imminently easier.
The Problem With Creating Content Sans Persona
People, experienced marketers included, tend to jump into content creation from their own perspective. This often yields a limited arsenal of boring, me-centric content.
Inbound marketers want their content to get shared, giving them a chance to reach out to more potential customers. We've learned that content about you, your product, and your achievements doesn't get shared, and sharing is a key indicator of 'remarkability' since people remark upon your content as they share. Therefore, creating content without targeting a strong persona may leave it destined for loneliness.
Without agreeing on a clear, persona that everyone within your organization is aware of, it'd be hard for different members of your team to contribute consistent content. How much easier would it be to have multiple bloggers and authors if everyone knew who they were writing for and who would be consuming their content?
A Story of Persona-Less Content
During a recent workshop I led for several hundred small business in Scotland, I challenged groups to come up with a short content plan including a persona, 3-5 blog post titles, and 2-3 meatier content offers for lead generation. Several groups spent half the time working on their persona, which gave them the inspiration for even more content ideas, while other groups that very hastily agreed on their persona struggled to come up with topics for content.
Case in point: A business, to remain nameless, which sells hotel booking software, called their persona 'Hotelier Harry.' They quickly decided that his primary concern in life was to get lower booking fees and moved into content creation mode. Naturally, they came up with posts about high booking fees and pointed to their software as the solution. They ran out of ideas after about 3 posts -- posts which, to be honest, were rather dry and very focused on their company and their solution.
What next? They were asked to revisit their persona, "Hotelier Harry," to dig deeper. Did they really think that Harry spends his nights awake worrying about booking fees? No.
What does Harry worry about? A little bit of brainstorming and thinking about who they really serve yielded answers like:
- How do I pay the mortgage on my growing small chain of B&Bs or hotels?
- How do I increase ADR (average daily rate) so I can generate more revenue?
- How do I ensure we run above 70% occupancy for both profitability and to keep my hotel staff employed?
- How do I increase loyalty and repeat visits?
We could have continued on that thread for quite some time, but exposing some of these questions got the group really energized and helped them understand that they can blog about or create content that is all about what Harry needs and wants. They can share their expertise (as a company that works with hundreds of Hoteliers, they are uniquely able to share broader insights) to create material that helps Harry across the board and makes them the go-to partner for all things related to business growth. As Harry engages, he's bound to learn a bit about booking engine best practices and consider using this company, a company he trusts and respects.
How to Build Your Persona
Every time people engage in this workshop, the most difficult part is persona creation. That said, it always yields the most value. Any team can develop a persona. You just need to start with the basics, and then develop your persona over time.
Key questions you can ask to start the discussion:
- Who are your typical buyers? It's common for there to be several, but challenge yourself to narrow down on one the first time around. You can build out secondary personas later .
- What are their typical demographics?
- What are their key motivators in life, at work, or at play?
- What are their biggest challenges and obstacles to success, at work or at play?
- How do they consume information today?
- Who influences their decisions?
These questions can help you frame the starting point for discussion. I recommend actually giving your persona a name so that you can talk about him or her as part of your family. You can more easily debate what Harry may or may not need or want. Your team will find it easier to identify with him or her, and this persona becomes more real the more that you engage both in real life and virtually. Sales expert Mac MacIntosh has some similar persona development advice but a slightly different set of questions to get you going.
Beat Lonely, Boring Content With Personas
Does your organization have a defined persona (or personas) today? If yes, how does this help your business? If no, can you imagine how a common persona might enable you to improve your marketing , inbound or otherwise?