In her book, ‘eMarketing Strategies for the Complex Sale’, Ardath Albee describes a persona as: “a composite sketch representative of the customer you serve”. It’s a method of focusing on a prospect or client – bringing them into the mind’s eye – when creating content or building up an e-dialogue for lead generation and inbound marketing activities. It can mean the difference between broadcasting bland and general marketing content that fails to engage your audience and entering into a meaningful dialogue that resonates and appeals. In my recent article in Consulting Magazine I discuss how companies churn out content and collateral thick with facts and stats leaving audiences bored and unengaged. Unless your message appeals personally, in a blink of an eye and the click of a mouse, you’ll lose your audience to more relevant and interesting content.
Struggling to create compelling copy aimed at a persona?
A good place to start is a specific real life example. In our workshops, we ask people to recall an experience when they witnessed a client really lose their cool – an emotional outburst, an email composed in the middle of a sleepless night, or a conversation packed with rants and raves. As unpleasant as it is to be on the receiving end of one of these, from the perspective of generating future content– bingo! You’ve hit pay dirt! Your client is revealing to you what is vitally important. Be it an IT Director losing sleep over missed project deadlines, or a CFO struggling to produce reports for her Board of Directors, if they’re angry and upset, or if they believe that their career depends on solving a specific problem, all other issues take a back seat.
To move from the emotional outburst to a go-to-market message, we use Sales Frames. The best way to describe a Frame is to see it as a persona embedded in a sequence of events, or as we call them Themes.
The Frame is both title and industry specific. Let’s assume that you sell analytic reporting tools into the Finance Industry. You could build a Frame for the CFO of a retail bank struggling to create reports for the Board of Directors. You start by creating a position-pain statement. Here’s an example, “As the CFO, I’m responsible for producing a monthly report for our Board, the problem is, the information I need is locked in a number of different systems. I spend most of my time looking for data rather than processing it. It means long hours and weekend work. But what worries me most is that the reports I produce may contain critical errors”. The pain statement can be mined from the client facing experiences described above – the rants and raves and sleepless nights.
The next step in the Frame is to develop the Theme. So, we capture the cause of the pain, the impact of the pain (or who else is affected) and build a vision of how to solve the problem. Obviously, the vision needs to reflect the unique value proposition you bring to market (more of that in a later blog).
Once you have the position, pain, cause, impact and vision established it’s much easier to build inbound or outbound content pieces (emails, blogs, reference stories and opinion pieces) that are appealing and meaningful to your target prospect. The impact section of the Frame identifies others affected by the original business issue. In our example, this would include Board Members, the CEO and the CFO’s direct reports. All may be affected by the CFO’s struggles to create timely and accurate reports. Build Frames for each of these positions too. This will enable you to segment your audience and fine tune your message for a number of positions in the organization. Hopefully, as a result of such targeted communication, each of your prospects will feel that you’re having a conversation with them directly.