Defining strategies for each persona group

After building personas and establishing your CRM processes, it is time to document a content development framework.*

This whole process is done for the benefit of your content development team.

The value of the persona based content development framework is to focus on the soft elements that differ between customer types. Examples may include tone, imagery, and value proposition differences. Each element you tailor is intended to help the customer better connect with the message you are developing.

Based on your general go-to-market strategy, you can probably establish a foundational messaging approach to be used across all personas. Use these tailored elements to supplement the broad plan.

Think of it this way… I might approach a sales call with a newly minted mother or father much differently than I would with a nearing retierment gradfather or grandmother. Their priorities and interestes are naturally different.

These documented strategies help the content development teams hit their mark.

Once completed, do not fall into the trap of treating these frameworks as something that last forever. Be prepared to maintain each strategy. As findings are discovered from reviewing the metrics, you will see how some things work and others don’t. Plan to adjust and learn.

Tip: Don’t forget to engage your sales team in this process. They understand these different approaches and can help guide the development of frameworks for content development teams to follow.

*Occasionally, this process is bundled with persona development.

 

 

*This article is part of a series titled Elements of an Effective Content Program. See below to review the related content.

Elements of an Effective Content Program – Series:

CRM Structure

To make personas produce value, your CRM system needs represent the persona groupings. Your CRM system brings life to your personas.

The CRM system is bedrock for an effective personalization strategy.

Group customer contacts in your CRM system as indicated in your various personas. Group the contacts, and maintain a process for assigning the appropriate personas as contacts are added or changed. This is critical as you work downstream in your distribution process.

Each time you configure an email, social message, and advertisement, the CRM system needs to act as your source for contact information.

CRM elevates your marketing game from a spray-and-pray to a surgical-and-measured approach.

Looking back to our broad view of the Content Program, you see the CRM structure and strategy must be established early on. It is a foundational element to your success.

CRM is a complex process that can be overpowered by the sales processes. The marketing process must support the sales teams. Be sure to leverage CRM and integrate marketing into the overarching process. There are many success stories to tell in this space. Don’t overlook it or let it pass you by.

 

*This article is part of a series titled Elements of an Effective Content Program. See below to review the related content.

Elements of an Effective Content Program – Series:

Importance of Knowing Your Audience

Knowing your audience = Personas
I’ve seen many teams balk at the idea of developing personas. I think they are a must!

Without a view to the larger picture of personalized content development, this can be seen as wasted effort.

If not connected to a personalization process, it actually can be a waste. Far too often, teams spend large sums to develop personas that end up generally telling you what you already knew.

However, if completed in the context of a robust personalized content program, it is critical.

Benefits
Knowing your audience helps you:

  • Group subsets of customers.
  • Create better definition of their interests which ties to better advertising and sponsorship placement.
  • Recognize daily habits which ties to intentional social media and email tactics.

Personas are representations of your various target audiences. You may have one or two, or you may have ten. It all depends on how much diversity there is in your audience.

Case Study: Geico
A great example of diverse persona use is evident by Geico. Consider the variety of themes used in their messaging. The Gecko. The Cavemen. Maxwell the Pig. The “I just saved a bunch of money on my car insurance” bit.

These concepts from Geico have all run at the same time and each have a different flavor. Each connecting with different groups of people. With something as general as Insurance, broad is necessary.

Prioritization is Key
It is also important to prioritize the number of personas / target audiences you maintain against the amount of budget you have available. Each persona represents a full set of reach possibilities that all cost money. It is easy to stretch budget too thin or conversely, be so generic that the message does not connect. There are many levers to use to find the right mix. The key is to identify your most important personas and evolve your understanding of the customer to better reach them in the future.

Summary
So, consider a set of personas to be your ever evolving guide to best reaching your customers. Without this foundational element you may 1) be missing the mark with your customers or 2) be setting yourself up to not take advantage of smart marketing infrastructure that can provide a personalized experience for your customers.

 

*This article is part of a series titled Elements of an Effective Content Program. See below to review the related content.

Elements of an Effective Content Program – Series:

My 2017 Reading List

Throughout the year, I made my way through a great collection of books on Audible. It is way too hard to pick out my favorites. Always looking for recommendations. The following list is in my reading order starting from most recently completed:

  • Into Thin Air – Jon Krakauer
  • All These Worlds: Bobiverse, Book 3 – Dennis E. Taylor
  • A Gentleman in Moscow – Amor Towles
  • For We Are Many: Bobiverse, Book 2 – Dennis E. Taylor
  • The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference – Malcolm Gladwell
  • We Are Legion (We Are Bob): Bobiverse, Book 1 – Dennis E. Taylor
  • Work Rules!: Insights from Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead – Laszlo Bock
  • The Android’s Dream – John Scalzi
  • The Butterfly Effect – Jon Ronson
  • 1984 – George Orwell
  • Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America – Gilbert King
  • The Dark Tower I: The Gunslinger – Stephen King
  • The Gene: An Intimate History – Siddhartha Mukherjee
  • The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life – Alice Schroeder
  • Spaceman: An Astronaut’s Unlikely Journey to Unlock the Secrets of the Universe – Mike Massimino
  • Not My Father’s Son: A Memoir – Alan Cumming
  • Alibaba: The House That Jack Ma Built – Duncan Clark
  • Freakonomics – Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner
  • Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike – Phil Knight
  • Digging Up Mother: A Love Story – Doug Stanhope
  • A Cold Day for Murder: A Kate Shugak Mystery – Dana Stabenow
  • How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life – Scott Adams
  • Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood – Trevor Noah
  • Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA – Tim Weiner

Largest Advertisers: What is your impact on sales and revenue?

While reading the latest AdAge magazine (December 4, 2017), I noted their listing of the worlds 25 largest advertisers. It is interesting to see this data. Understanding that the primary audience for this magazine is advertising agencies, I can understand why this listing is so juicy. It clearly outlines who is spending the most and money is being put on the table.

However, from a brand perspective, I see this list and wonder about the results of these expenditures (which happens to be missing from the AdAge report). I try to recognize that marketing and advertising should be closely linked to sales and revenue. With a spare half hour, I did a little comparison of revenue between 2015 and 2016 for the top 5 companies.

I was really hoping to see increased sales across each of theses companies. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Take a look at the results in the table below:

2016 total worldwide advertising spending (in $Billions) Net Sales 2015 Net Sales 2016 Difference Percentage Difference
Proctor & Gamble Co. $10.5 $43.9 $38.3 -$5.6 -12.8%
Samsung Electronics Co. $9.9 $184.6 $185.7 $1.1 0.6%
Nestle $9.2 $90.0 $89.4 -$0.6 -0.7%
Unilever $8.6 $62.7 $62.0 -$0.7 -1.1%
L’Oreal $8.3 $29.7 $30.4 $0.7 2.4%


So we have 3 of the 5 seeing revenue losses. This is a bummer. If my company is spending a this much on advertising, I want to see positive impact on revenue. These results are a chink in the armor of the advertising budget.

I say all of this with full understanding that market forces are very mysterious and no matter how great the marketing and advertising, every company is at risk of having a poor year.

My overriding point is that as marketers and advertisers, we need to hold ourselves to a higher standard. We need to be willing to stake our professional reputation on impacting sales in a clear manner. We need to hold our supporting agencies accountable to these expectations too.

As marketers we need to be living under the mantra of $1 put into advertising should be resulting in $2 back. Let’s get better at making this happen!

Free Educational Content and the Positive Business Impact

I have a friend that owns a landscaping business. He has a degree in horticulture and knows everything there is to know about the landscaping process. However, his employees do not. For example, when it comes to the basics of how to properly prepare and build a large reinforced retaining wall, my friend has to spend countless hours educating his employees on the process of how to prepare and build the structure.

This is a great opportunity for a company to deliver content that can provide general education and genuinely integrate the brand into the material.

Hypothesis: Providing customers with foundational education increases brand loyalty, favorability and revenue.

Educational content can be a great lead-in for offerings like training services, products, and support. As you build content and demonstrate how your products and services are used in the process, building the linkages to your informational product / service pages is critical. Make sure the audience can click over to the products or services being referenced.

This is soft selling. The customer trusts you because you are not trying to shove anything down their throat. You are just trying to be helpful. If it makes sense and the time is right where they need the related product / service you are showcasing… great! It’s a win-win.

Examples of freely accessible educational materials are not too hard to find. Some brands are in the process of transitioning their pay-to-access educational content to free and open models becase of the intuitive downstream value (not to mention the overhead required to maintain non-core business training programs). Adobe and Apple both have great examples of free educational offerings. These are established as strategic offerings to help their customers become more proficient while becoming brand advocates with their new found skills.

While it is a simple idea to begin creating and exposing educational content, you do not want to do this blindly. Enter this process fully expecting to test and study the results. This is a great opportunity to integrate CRM processes so you can understand what customers are accessing the educational material. You ultimately want to track the long term impact on revenue. Ideally, you would A/B test to watch revenue trends for a set of customers not accessing your educational content and the set that are. I am optimistic that the impact will be recognizable.

Feel free to reach out if you have have seen results with this approach.

Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/john-schilling/

The role of social media in the construction / industrial world

The following post is a repost from an article that I published a couple of years back on a closed facebook group that focuses on promoting excellence in the construction industry. I thought it would be a good idea to share the same information here for all to see. Enjoy!
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I would like to share some perspectives that I have regarding the role social media plays in the construction / industrial world. As an introduction, I am currently a member of the ebusiness team at Caterpillar Inc. My specific role is the social media strategist, which means that I am responsible for establishing the direction and tactics that Caterpillar and Cat Dealers may use to most effectively benefit from social networking.


For the sake of this message, I am going to focus on several points that should have a strong correlation for anyone in the industry who owns a business, wants to extend their network of professional connections or just wants to understand why everyone keeps talking about social media.


To keep things simple, lets first recognize that there is no magic in social media. At the most basic form, social media is strictly a form of communication. The only difference is that the conversation sticks around longer and many people may see and interact with that conversation.


So why does it matter? What can someone in the construction industry do with social media? Construction is about prepping, digging, trenching, compacting, building. Social media does not play a role in this space. Right?


I ask these rhetorical questions while specifically avoiding the most important function a business must manage. That function is “Relationships”.


As a business owner or a skilled laborer, the way you are brought into consideration for work is by being connected to the right people at the right time. Of course, a lot of this has to do with relationships you may have from school mates, church or your community. Social media brings additional opportunities to extend your network and demonstrate why people should work with you.


At a high level, I try to focus on activities around Perception, Network, and Interaction.
In regards to perception, be sure to consider how someone else may view content that you post or repost. A general rule of thumb in this space is the following question: “Would you want your mother to see this? “ Regardless if you are managing a facebook page for your business or your own personal profile, the items you post are digital records of how you act. Be smart because you never know when someone may go to your accounts to see what types of things you say and do.


From a network perspective, be sure to connect with the right decision makers and influencers, similarly to the way you might try in your personal interactions. Being connected is a great way to remain top-of-mind of the people you care about. I highly recommend leveraging professional networking tools such as LinkedIn to assist with making these types of connections.


Lastly, Interact. It is important to have an active digital presence. Again, a primary reason for this is so you may remain top-of-mind. Consider what you want to represent and think of ways to continually and consistently talk about these things that matter to you and demonstrate your values.


Every day/month/year, digital activities and social media are reshaping the ways we connect. There are certain people who are connecting the dots and seeing the value resonating in job opportunities, perceived / understood value, and beneficial relationships. I’m not saying that leveraging social media in a serious way is completely simple, but it is rewarding and I recommend putting yourself out there.


Thanks for your time. Feel free to connect with me. Good luck moving the world forward.

Opportunity via community

I went out to Wikipedia, and I searched for “Community”. Here is the statement I found: “Community usually refers to a social unit larger than a household that shares common values and has social cohesion”. Wow. Communities sound so warm and cozy. This makes sense. Communities are comfortable places where people are able to get together, and discuss topics that they have passion about. If you have ever stumbled over a automotive repair forum, you know what I’m talking about. Digital kudos and friendly elbow jabs are being handed out just like it’s a bunch of guys hanging out, shooting the breeze in a workshop. Cozy.

Making sense and being involved in these types of communities must be a top priority. When I put myself in the shoes of a specific customer segment, I start hitting google and begin identifying the hotbeds of activity in that space. This is not always easy, because the search should not be limited to a specific platform or technology. Enter this activity with an open mind. With very niche markets and industries, the search may be difficult and provide limited or fragmented / spread community results.

If you are finding that the industry you are researching has a weak community across the forum world, social networks and blogs, you just found opportunity! I consider this to be especially true if you manage a brand that sits directly in the industry.

Going back to the concept of what a “Community” is, there are many parallels that can be made between physical / locational communities and online digital communities. It can be recognized that for a community to truly form and mature, structure and commitment must be dedicated. In many cases, digital communities become structured by a few dedicated people who provide focus and direction to the conversation, attitude and tone of the messages. Just think, you have the opportunity to build the structure, network and thought leadership that can be the force in your industry. So, while you may have found opportunity, be ready to dedicate the right level of time or resources to ensure success.

Photo Credit: danielpgauer