When you first meet someone, you ask questions, share ideas, make jokes, and tell stories to start building a connection and hopefully set the foundation for a relationship.
Introducing your business works the same way! Marketing campaigns that present a story are consistently more successful than those that don’t because story branding helps your customer build a relationship with your business, even before they buy your product. So, are you ready to tell your brand’s story?
Who are you in your story?
Sure, many campaigns already feature a hero who shows off their product and how this product defeats the villainous pain point, sometimes without even knowing they are. But too often, business leaders feature the wrong hero!
Consider Harry Potter. Harry Potter is the hero who defeats Voldemort, but he probably would have failed had he not met Dumbeldore. Yet despite Dumbeldore’s undeniable importance to the story, he is not the hero.
According to Adam Ward, Vice President of Sales at Raine Digital, “most ineffective content is the effect of the company believing they are the Harry Potter of their marketing campaign.” But unless you are providing your solution for free (a one-time sample does not count), then you are not the hero; you’re the Dumbeldore-figure.
Meet Your Hero
Think about it: your company’s goal is to sell a product. However, Ward asserts that “no consumer wants someone to sell them on something, even though almost all consumers like the act of buying things.” This means that your marketing strategy shouldn’t actively sell your product, but should empower your customers to solve their problems using your solution.
However, to empower your customers, you have to know who they are. Many business leaders make the mistake of assuming they are similar to their ideal customer. But this assumption often leads to content that doesn’t respond well to the current market.
Instead, effective marketing targets consumers in specific areas of the market, such as within a certain generation, residing in a certain area, or facing a similar problem. To target successfully, you need to really understand your customer so you can build a marketing strategy that portrays a hero who empathizes with them now and with who they want to be.
To help you really get to know your customers, Ward suggests building personas. Personas are generalized representations of your ideal customer base, simplified into a semi-fictional character. Developed from recorded trends, personas help you craft a marketing strategy that your customers find relevant and respond positively toward.
And yes, we mean “personas.” Plural. It is unlikely that everyone who buys your product is the same. But, chances are many will share similar pain points, aspirations, or general characteristics. Recognizing these trends allow you to create a handful of personas, each one representing a different segment of your customer base to target.
For each segmented customer type, you should build a unique persona that is:
Accuracy is key! Inaccurate personas lead to false understandings of your end-user and tend to create ineffective marketing strategies.
To be as accurate as possible, collect data directly from your existing customers using observations and interviews. This will eliminate the risk of stereotyping and help you to avoid focusing on fringe characteristics that aren’t true for the majority of your customers.
Specificity provides the foundation of empathy. The more specific your personas are, the more you understand and effectively market to your customer’s pain points.
When you build out each persona, provide demographics that reflect your current customers, including:
- Age or generation
- Occupation with income
- Gender, sexual identity, and sexual preference
- Level of education
- Goals, motivations and fears
- Spending habits
Want a step-by-step guide to building your personas? Check out Ward’s hands-on persona worksheet to clarify who your heros really are and start crafting more relevant marketing strategies!