Everybody has that friend that just loves to talk about themselves. In the marketing world, isn’t the same true for some brands?
Unfortunately, brand-centric messaging is not a viable practice for marketers. Audiences demand personalized content that meets their needs, not the needs of the brand.
Creating collateral that speaks to your target audience can be done through personas, a visual representation of your audience. We in the Iterative Marketing community advocate for personas because personas help marketers get inside the head of their audience, understand their wants, needs and desires, and to personalize content based on their stage in the customer journey.
Using personas to guide the design and creation of collateral has many benefits, but in this post I focus on three.
Benefit 1: The audience gets the information they need based on their stage in the customer journey
Every customer is in a different stage of experience with a brand. Some are hearing about a brand for the first time, others are researching a particular brand or product, and still others are ready to purchase a specific item or service from a business they know and trust.
Personas can be segmented into one of three stages of a customer journey, See, Think, Do, a framework popularized by Avinash Kaushik. Collateral in the “See” stage is meant to support brand awareness. It can be engaging and entertaining, but should not have a call to action. “Think” collateral is created to educate and inform, or to change a prospect’s perception about a product or service. “Do” collateral is highly actionable with a strong call to action.
Marketing collateral is effective when it meets the needs of your persona based on their stage in the customer journey, because when “people want information about your business, they actually don’t want to know about you. They want to know about how they can move forward or fulfill a need through your business,” according to Lisa England, brand strategist and storyteller, in her blog.
To put this idea into context, a mom researching the best family-friendly SUV is in a very different stage of the customer journey than a mom ready to put money down today on a Ford Flex Limited. The mom researching SUVs is in the “Think” stage and is positioned to receive “Think” collateral, rather than the mom in the “Do” stage of the cycle, who is ready to convert.
Benefit 2: Your messages resonate because they meet audience expectations of the channel
Marketers can win major brownie points with their audience by creating collateral that speaks the language native to the channel it is published on. We can all relate to the experience of scrolling through our social media feeds and feeling irritated by a disruptive promoted post or sidebar advertisement that does not match the context of the platform we are using.
“Smart, native social media tries to enhance the customer’s interaction with a platform, not distract him from it,” says Gary Vaynerchuk in “Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook.” “When you create stellar content native to a platform’s context, you can make a person feel; if your content can make a person feel, he is likely to share it with others.”
When we as marketers see the world though our personas’ point of view, we are in touch with their daily frustrations and goals and better able to tailor messages to the channels they visit. This awareness demonstrates that your brand is aligned with your customer’s needs and values.
Good examples of native collateral include a professional article on LinkedIn’s Pulse, a guide to getting the most from a trade show you are exhibiting at, an email from an address you can actually reply to, or a targeted board on Pinterest. Such collateral adds great value to a prospect’s experience.
When collateral does not speak the language that is native to the channel it is published on, a red flag is raised to audiences that the brand is either not concerned with the needs of its audience, or that it does not understand their needs. Both are bad scenarios for your brand.
Benefit 3: Persona-centric marketing collateral results in cost savings
A chef can toss a handful of spaghetti against the wall to see what sticks, but there’s a lot of spaghetti that is wasted in the process. So it is with collateral that is not targeted, but still promoted and distributed to see what message resonates with an audience.
Using personas to create targeted collateral takes the chance out of “seeing what sticks.” With personas, you know your audience’s pain points. According to The Realities of Online Personalisation [sic], 74% of marketers say targeted personalization increases customer-engagement. Knowing this, you can use collateral to speak directly to your audience — while saving the money that would have been used on creative or content revisions.