The secret ingredient to successful marketing content

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There's a tried and true adage by Dale Carnegie from his book "How to Win Friends and Influence People."

A person's name is the sweetest sound in any language for that person.

And it works -- beautifully. True, there are plenty of psychological rabbit holes tunneling into the depths of why it's so powerful, but the ultimate takeaway is pretty simple: When someone addresses you by name, you feel more connected to them. They validate your existence and touch you at your core identity -- warm fuzziness all around.

So what does this have to do with marketing content? A lot.

To be successful at marketing content, you need to talk to your audience like you know their names. If you don't have any insight into this, your best writing, your most compelling offer, or your snazzy new value prop (that you no doubt paid a lot for) will essentially fall on deaf ears or, worse, be disregarded.

Because if your audience is unconvinced you care, they'll reciprocate that sentiment. And your web traffic, social media sentiment, and bottom line will feel their rebuke. 

Putting the person in persona

Obviously it's unrealistic and probably downright impossible (infinite monkey theorem aside) to write uniquely for each individual prospect and customer. We're all snowflakes, after all.

The good news is that you don't have to because, just like snowflakes, our similarities are as important as our differences. They connect us and more importantly, you can write to similarities.

What your marketing content can do is speak to core characteristics that are shared by specific types of audiences -- the concerns, questions, interests, and dilemmas that connect them with each other and can connect them with your brand.

So how do you do that?  You start by creating detailed personas of your key audiences.

In "Designing for the Digital Age," user-experience guru Kim Goodwin says "personas are archetypes that describe the various goals and observed behavior patterns among your potential users and customers."

Expanding and slightly simplifying her definition, personas are detailed profiles that represent who your key audiences are, including their behaviours, characteristics, buying habits, demographics, psychographics, concerns, lifestyles, beliefs, motivations, preferences, and a variety of other attributes depending on your business.



keith newman
keith newman October 28, 2013 at 6:37 PM

I was hoping for something a bit more contemporary and insightful but a nice reminder nonetheless. have a great day

Ford Kanzler
Ford Kanzler October 28, 2013 at 1:07 PM

Excellent advice!
One way I've seen that helps audience members self-select desired content is by building in questions about them or suggesting they consider their preferences, e.g. "if you (do this)....?" (or) "Are you the person who...?" Completely agree the marketing writer needs to have a clear picture of the several interest areas (hot buttons) their various audience members may have.
With these questions asked, general purpose (un-customized) information may be tailored to the audience members' preference or persona characteristics. Variations may be around content, tone, length, the media applied or other variables.