January 25th 2012
In the world of theatre, a persona, meaning “mask” in Latin, refers to the role played by an actor. An odd analogy some may say, but writing marketing content is really no different. It needs us as b2b marketers, to put on a ‘mask’ so that we can better understand what makes our target audience tick, and more importantly what makes them buy.
Taking this a step further – hang on I’m not going mad – but why not revert to your childhood and create an imaginary friend to represent the people you are writing for. I have to hold my hands up, as I often do this to help me to really get in the ‘empathy zone’ when writing and strategising for the most discerning of b2b audiences. And, I find my make-believe friend can make all the difference between writing general business-ease content, or writing a piece that creates an emotional connection with the audience I’m speaking to.
Sometimes I picture my old CEO boss, or old C-level colleagues, in my mind’s eye when in the C-Suite writing ‘zone’ (all fully clothed of course!). Other times, I may be pitching to a personality type – a Jobs, a Zuckerberg, a Roddick, a Branson. It doesn’t matter so long as you hook up with the right imaginary friend, and often sound research will help you create this friend from an embryonic start point.
It’s likely a b2b marketing campaign will require you to create numerous personas or ‘friends’, due to the more complex DMU structure. This will help you to produce ‘on issue’ empathetic copy, which acknowledges your persona’s view points, uses their language and deals with their biggest concerns and challenges head on. Imaginary friends require honesty to build trust, not fluff and b*llocks as can oft appear in marketing communications.
Some of you may think this all sounds a little crazy – people can get locked up for speaking to themselves I hear you say (no doubt out loud to yourself!). Others of you may even be sat there thinking that invented friends are strictly for the playroom only. But, with the distance imposed by marketing campaign communications, and the constraints of the context you are writing in, it means you have to work harder than ever to sound well….human. As this is all we’re aiming to be after all – human, honest and relevant, to show we are in tune. Isn’t the whole purpose of our marketing campaigns to make sure that we resonate, and to ultimately help us to start to build those all-important initial relationships?
Creating imaginary friends gives you the ability to measure your b2b marketing concepts too. If you truly believe, having considered and reread your communication, that your ‘persona’ is unlikely to respond to your crafted verse, then you’ve most likely got it wrong. Go with your human instinct and be honest with yourself and your imaginary friend. Try relating to your own personal experiences, your own wants and needs as a consumer and you may just be surprised at what develops – a real connection with your new ‘friend’, which lifts your written communications to a whole new level.
After all, good marketing content should have aspects of you, as the communicator, firmly imbedded in it, with each different ‘story’ having its own unique flow. But don’t confuse creating a persona with considering yourself a subject matter expert, or you’ll end up stuffing your content with every reference possible. If you’re not careful it could end up being more about the researcher in you, than the reader - a total no-no.
Personas should be about enhancing focus, communication and collaboration on any project you undertake. Here at Marketecture, this concept helps us, as b2b marketers, to create a vivid, tangible, picture of our best prospects and sculpt our marketing messages around them. Give it a try; otherwise you might just be missing that final link which could take your campaigns from good to great.