Many moons ago, there was a man named Cragney who decided that he’d had enough of his job harvesting krill oil, so handed in his notice. The hours were long, the pay barely enough to feed his 12 children and seven rats, and he was severely allergic to krill oil. But crucially, he had a big idea. An idea that was going to make him rich.
His big idea wasn’t a groundbreaking one, but it was a smart one. Wherever he looked and whoever he spoke to, he could find hardly anyone wearing berets. The more he searched the small town of Hamplyn Brognid, the more he was convinced of the excellence of his idea: he was going to open a beret shop, right on the high street in a shop between Laser Quest and an old Greggs premises that had since been taken over by a particularly violent badger set.
After serving his 12-month notice period on the krill canoe, Cragney got down to work. He devised a business plan (import lots of berets, sell them for a meagre profit – it would be a case of success via low margin, high volume), bought the location, commissioned a sign (“Beret Nice to Meet You”), set about a vast and expansive marketing plan involving billboards, radio adverts and feverish word of mouth campaigns, and then prepared himself for the hoards that would pile through his door on opening day.
The trouble was, however, that no one came. In all his fervour to open, Cragney had failed to take a bit of time to consider that, yes, no one was wearing berets, but perhaps this was because no one wanted to wear berets. Even more than that, Cragney was blissfully unaware that in Hamplyn Brognid, the beret had been “unofficially” outlawed after Jonty Jonty, the coolest boy in town, declared them “not at all very nice”.
Cragney was bankrupt by midday, just 12 minutes after opening.
Know your company’s audience
The lesson that Cragney and “Beret Nice to Meet You” teaches us is that knowing your customer is an important part of any selling relationship. And, while that might be most obvious when opening a beret shop in a provincial English town with very little passing trade, it’s an important step in building a successful online business, too.
When it comes to creating content, you need to have a clear idea of who you are writing for and to, what you want them to get out of it, and what action you want them to take. It’s impossible to do this without knowing who they are. That’s where personas come in.
Unlike demographic descriptions (although they are heavily informed by demographic information), personas are detailed descriptions of a fictional person who you would like to attract – a set of ideal imaginary customers. The important thing is to know whom you are selling to.
So how might you go about creating one? Well, first you should take whatever demographic data you have available and use it to paint a picture of who your personas are: male or female? Old or young? Weak or crippled?
Using this as a starting point, you can build up a full picture of your personas (a good content marketing strategy should have a number of different ones, although not too many). Considering your target audience’s media consumption, job, leisure activities, what is causing them pain in their lives and even what they look like, you can build up a good idea of your customer.
Armed with a coherent picture of who you are trying to attract, you will be far better positioned to actually draw them in. Of course, this is only the beginning of any good content marketing strategy – the next stage would be brainstorming a steady drumbeat of content that is going to appeal to each of your personas, and then creating the content to do this. However, it is an important first step.
Had Cragney have taken a step back to think about who he wanted to be selling his berets to he might have realised that the customer he was looking for wasn’t the one he was going to find on the Hamplyn Brognid high street.
So where is Cragney today? Well, he spent a week with his tail between his legs, scratching for pigswill at the local homeless shelter before picking himself up and beginning all over again.
He sold his high street premises (the badgers had already claimed most of it, anyway), and used the proceeds to open an online beret store, directed at a clear and concise set of Francophile personas.
Today Cragney is the richest person in all of the regional mid-west to east stretch of swampland the lies between the M25 and the M25 towpath. The moral of the story? NEVER BACK DOWN. Also, make sure you define your personas before you set about extensive lead generation.