We as digital marketers run user testing and in-person brand development to try to define our brand’s persona & voice. One thing is almost always true: people never quite view our brands the way we view them. We build our personas as a key part of Inbound, but often don’t have many good ways to subjectively test if our communications are well-adapted to our personas. At least not without running expensive studies.

But what if there was a way to test this - and for free?

In this post, I’m going to share a new way to get a diagnosis of who you are as a brand persona using a highly-objective artificial intelligence named Watson. Read on to learn more about what Watson can do for you!

Some Background on Machine Learning

Machine learning (or A.I.) might be a new concept for you. If it is, here's a quote on why machine learning is so important in today's world:

“The use of machine learning has allowed us to solve many of our problems. It can allow us to effectively manage bandwidth, possibly predict solar flares, automate the rooting out of weeds, and so much more. The ability to learn and experience the world much as humans do allows our machines to be better at the tasks we give them.”- Futurism.com

Right now, we're seeing early adopters building and using these technologies for a variety of tasks. For example, Google has even developed an A.I. that can identify birds by image down to their breed. See it in action below:

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This cutting-edge technology is going to change a lot of industries right out from under people. 

Using A.I. in Your Marketing

Watson is my favorite new content tool. Have you heard of him? He’s an IBM Deep Learning Machine platform. This cutting edge technology uses natural language processing and machine learning (Sort of like SkyNet) to reveal insights from unstructured data (Like your marketing copy!).

One of the more interesting uses for Watson is its language profiler. You put in your Twitter profile or one hundred words of copy and the A.I. spits out a persona profile of your brand content much like you would create a persona to understand your market better.

You can read more about Watson here.

Audit Your Content With Watson

Recently at HubSpot, the Academy team explored Watson and it's many uses. Here's an example of what we did. This is a section of script from the inbound email certification laying the groundwork for the session. We want to learn more about how well the voice of our certification speaks to our target buyer, "Marketing Mary". 

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 Here’s the persona Watson puts out for the copy. We're asking, “Does this persona or voice meet the needs of our customer/lead/opportunity?”. As with most things, take this with a grain of salt, A.I., while making massive leaps still has a long road ahead. However, here are our results and here's what we learned:

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  1. When speaking to our target persona, we often are communicating with marketers who are feeling a bit overwhelmed with how fast things are moving. Being confident but compassionate helps ease those concerns. It’s the difference between “This is best practice.” vs. “It’s not easy, but here’s a good way to tackle it. Try this next.”.
  2. If someone is coming to our email marketing certification looking for help, they are looking for an experienced leader to help them learn something. By being assertive and taking charge we are helping others be comfortable and learn efficiently. It’s the difference between a professor who is a confident and persuasive speaker with years of experience, and someone who is having trouble articulating a big idea that they themselves just learned.
  3. The "why" of what we provide is to educate and inspire people so that we together can change the way the world does business (Inbound Certification). Our aspirations to a higher purpose are what keep us honest and not focused on clicks. Rather than wanting people to just fill forms so we can call, we want to be at the wheel of a marketing movement. Thanks Watson.

Customer Example- Hub.TV:

Let’s do the same thing for one of our customers, Hub.TV a video agency in London. We’ll run one of their best blogs through Watson. 

Dave, the owner at Hub aka @David_Hub on Twitter has given some feedback on the Watson profile for your enjoyment. After you read it, imagine the impact this information would have if your sales team was doing this for their leads! Check out what he has to say, below:

You can see their content in the Academy Examples section.

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  1. Writing content that conveys passion is crucial to us. If the target persona, Marketing Mary, doesn’t sense how committed we are to video marketing then they won’t engage with us.
  2. Being able to understand Marketing Mary’s pain points, to put ourselves in their shoes, means we can write content that speaks to them – empathetic sums it up nicely.
  3. Providing resources that help people to learn and better themselves means we become a trusted resource. The blog post does just that, it’s practical tips for Marketing Mary to use in their job.
  4. Marketing Mary wants to help her direct, and wider, teams to learn and improve. If she shares content with colleagues, she is instantly seen as being helpful and knowledgeable. If we can play a small role in that, then great!
                                                                                                                                                             "

Using A.I. in Your Business

Please try this for yourself by choosing a segment of your audience that you’d like to do better with. Here's some simple instructions to follow:

  1. Click this link on to the Watson platform
  2. Run a large section of your copy targeted to your chosen segment.
  3. Assess what you know your buyer persona wants from a vendor, does your content match their preferred style?
  4. Optimize and improve!
  5. Leave a comment below doing some reflecting on what you learn in this analysis!

Thanks for reading! This is one tool that modern Inbound Marketers will be adding to their content creation workflows. Consider this a head start.


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Originally published Oct 4, 2016 3:00:00 PM, updated December 01 2017