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20 Feb 2017

Persona Targeted Storytelling: The Key To Content?

by Ben Harper 1

With billions of pieces of content being created each and every day, creating stories that resonate with your target audience is everything.

Content that’s created by businesses with a direct (or hopefully a longer term, in-direct) goal of generating commercial action by consumers is in direct competition with user generated content that’s often more story rich in it’s make up. Think about it – your company blog about a new feature or product release is much less likely to truly resonate with your audience than a social media post from their friends or family.

But, in the new age of digital content, that’s what businesses need to deal with. In our experience, the way around this is to move to a persona targeted storytelling approach. Here’s how.

Step 1: Understand Your Audience

To take this approach, you need to fully understand your audience. We’ve written many times on our blog about how important it is to understand your audience, so I won’t go into detail here. But suffice it to say that it’s crucial that you understand enough about your audience to answer the following questions:

Knowing this information, and preferably much more, will allow you to group your audience and start to profile them.

Step 2: Create Personas

Creating personas is in many ways the easy part. Once you’ve collected data and analysed your audience, group your audience segments into personas based on commonalities.

For example, you might put together two audience groups such as:

* Inner-city living, Guardian reading professionals under the age of 30
* Suburban family man, influenced by Sky News, aged 40+

Give each persona a name. For arguments sake, lets call our Inner-City type Ryan, and our suburban family man Clive.

Ryan is going to engage with very different content to Clive. For a start, they have completely different life references, they’re in difference situations, and their outlook on the world is therefore very different.

Step 3: Craft Your Strategy To Those Personas

Once you understand your key audience personas, put your content strategy together with them at the core of it. In the above example, I’d advocate actually creating two content strategies rather than one.

Rather than trying to please your whole audience with one content strategy, having a strategy per persona allows you to focus your efforts fully, and to take each persona on their own unique path of discovery and through their own purchase funnel to use your product or service.

Step 4: Build Storytelling In To Your Strategy

Stories are one of the best ways to make an idea “sticky” (recommend reading Made To Stick on this). People have a much higher recall of anything told in story form rather than in any other format.

Think about it, we can all remember stories we were told back from our childhood – even if we just heard the story, rather than being in the story. Think about which brands content you’ve seen recently that you can say that about. There probably isn’t many at all. And that’s how you can stand out.

By crafting stories into your persona focussed content strategy, you can create content that resonates and sticks with your core audience.

These stories can be anything – from being really honest about the stories from within your business (honesty is always the best policy, and leads to some of the best content I’ve ever read), to creating stories around your audiences interests.
The caveat is, to achieve this does take a lot of effort. But, the investment in content is definitely worth it when done correctly. To really nail this process you’re going to need to be good at data analysis (to understand your audience), strategy & ideation (to nail your content strategies), and have a good pool of creative/written content (to really bring your stories to life).

Ben Harper

Co-Founder at Datify