User Personas and Marketing Personas

If you’re a blogger, a vlogger, a podcaster or a social media influencer, you’re in the business of making content. I’ve said before that even if I never make another penny from my writing, I’ll probably continue being a “blogger” in some form or another. But, if the objective is to grow your audience and turn a profit, you need to treat it like a business. And this means getting a good handle on your “customer.” Yes, this includes your blog readers and your Facebook followers.

The Power of Personas

Back when I was still blogging as “just” a hobby, I didn’t pay much attention to the metrics or how much money I was making. For starters, I wasn’t making anything at all, partly because I not only didn’t know how, but the thought hadn’t even crossed my mind yet. I was mostly in my own head, writing things for my own sake and not necessarily “for” the audience. To be fair, some of the stuff I write on my own blog today still falls into that bucket. That still has intrinsic value to me.

These days, compared to the olden days, we are incredibly fortunate to have unprecedented access to user data. We know so much more about the people who watch our videos on YouTube and read our posts on our blogs than ever before. From a business perspective, this puts us in a much more powerful position in terms of determining exactly the kind of content we should be publishing in the first place.

A great tool to put in your arsenal, then, are hypothetical personas. No, I don’t mean how you present yourself to the public. Rather, it’s about having a specific person in mind when writing your posts and creating your videos. This hypothetical person is the combination or hybrid of several “real” users, based on the data that you have at your fingertips. And, there are two main types.

The User Persona

Regardless of the size of your audience and following, it would be impossible to boil everyone down into a single hypothetical being. For the “user persona” to be useful, though, you don’t want to have dozens of them either. In my experience, this works best when you narrow it down to about three to five.

Basically, user personas are based on the actual data you’re collecting about the people who are already visiting your website (or watching you on YouTube, following you on Instagram, etc.). Go through the comments, check the demographic information in your analytics, and try to get a sense of who these people are. Where are they from? How old are they? Male or female? What sort of work do they do?

For John Chow dot Com, for example, one persona might be the professional adult, approximately 30 to 50 years old. They’ve got a day job, but they’re thinking about starting an online side hustle that might turn into a full-time business, like in Internet marketing and blogging. Crunching the numbers is important to this demographic, because they want to decide when it would be viable to quit their day jobs.

It’s with this persona in mind — let’s call her Jennifer from Portland — that I wrote articles on how much money you can save working from home, and what are some US cities with the lowest cost of living. Put yourself in her hypothetical shoes. The goal is to provide content that is meaningful, useful and relevant.

The Marketing Persona

Whereas user personas are based on the people who are already interacting with your content, marketing personas are the people that you WANT to attract to your website. They may or may not already be there. In this way, marketing personas are related more to market research, for example, as well as sales strategy.

So, let’s illustrate this with another hypothetical example. Jennifer from Portland might already be reading these articles, but what if John wanted to start targeting European users with much larger budgets to spend on growing their existing online businesses? Because these users are in Europe, US-centric content may not be as relevant, but the larger budget might mean it could be “easier” to convert them on higher ticket products.

The kind of content that you would produce for this hypothetical marketing persona — let’s call him Kurt from Hamburg, Germany — is very different from the type of content you’d write for Jennifer from Portland. In both cases, though, you’re starting from the mindset of Kurt and Jennifer, and not necessarily from inside your own head. You’re writing for them, not for you.

The General Is Personal

As you sit down to create your content, whether that includes photos and captions on Instagram or sales copy in an email newsletter, act as if you are creating that content for one very specific individual in mind. Don’t write broadly for “entrepreneurs.” Instead, imagine you are writing something that is addressed specifically for Kurt or Jennifer. Imagine you are sitting down and having an actual face-to-face conversation with this person.

That’s how you’ll provide the real value. Because the more specific and targeted you can get, the more relatable your content will be.