We tend to sometimes look at one of our most valuable resources as numbers.
While analytics are critical in making business and marketing decisions, it’s important to look beyond those numbers and realize that the targets of our marketing material are more than just numbers and dollar signs. They’re people just like us.
The people we target with our marketing efforts have families, lifestyles, beliefs, norms, values, and feelings that make them unique. We need to keep all this in mind as we craft copy and build campaigns.
Don’t stop measuring. That’s not my point.
My point is that you need to craft marketing material that doesn’t look like marketing material.
The marketing material you create needs to connect on a personal level. It needs to keep all the things that make us human in mind. Until robots take over the world, we need to realize our audience is part of the human race and all that entails.
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How do you create marketing content with real people in mind?
Before you craft any piece of content, campaign, or marketing collateral, it’s critical to understand your audience, their needs, what makes them tick, and the problems they face.
Without these things in mind, you’re creating content aimed at statistics, not at the real people whose hearts and minds you’re looking to capture with your marketing.
To connect with your audience on a deeper level, ask yourself these questions when putting together any piece of marketing material:
- Does it connect with our target audience’s values and beliefs?
- Is it offensive to anyone, whether in our target audience or not?
- Does it add value to their lives or is it just bragging about what we do?
- How will this help make people’s lives better or easier?
- Are we using the right words and imagery that resonate with our particular audience?
- Have we considered the geographical location where this will be distributed?
- Have we considered the cultural differences in the region where this will be distributed?
These questions should be asked in addition to all the analytical and goal-related questions you need to ask, but that’s for another article on another day.
Today I want to drive home the point that you need to put yourself in the shoes of your audience. If you don’t have a good answer to any of the questions above, you need to take a step back and make some adjustments.
Genuinely seek to solve problems
People will see through marketing material that’s trying to trick them into buying something they don’t really need.
Your goal as a marketer should be to deeply understand the problems and challenges your target audience members face. Then, create content that honestly and transparently described how you make their lives better and help them navigate those challenges.
Rather than bragging about how your product is 10x better than the next guy’s offering or shouting about product features and functions, tell a story. Your story should weave a tale of how you change lives and solve problems.
I love this example from Basecamp, the famed project management tool.
When multiple projects are floating around, chaos can ensue. Basecamp offers a vision of understanding. The brand shows that it gets what its audience goes through. It then cleverly defines how Basecamp solves the problems those folks face.
Who doesn’t need a sense of calm sometimes? Rather than saying something like “Your projects will be 10x more efficient”, the copywriting team at Basecamp came up with the clever lines you see in the image above.
They clearly define the problem by talking about things seeming scattered and people being stressed.
Who hasn’t been there?
Then, they wrap it up by showing how life is after Basecamp is in place is so much better. Things are more organized and stress levels are virtually non-existent.
Tell the story of the value you add through the eyes of the audience members, not through your brand trying to force stats and bragging onto your audience.
Define your audience with clear personas
To create content that connects, you’ll want to develop a deep understanding of your audience. As seen in the Basecamp example above, the brand clearly understood its audience and the problems they face.
One of the best ways to do this is to create personas for each of your audience segments.
What is a buyer persona?
A buyer persona is essentially a fictional character based on data and interactions with your actual customers. Each persona represents people within a specific segment of your audience.
A persona takes into account a number of aspects about the average person within that segment and creates a fake version with a name as well as other identifying factors that then help your marketing team craft more targeted marketing.
What does a buyer persona include?
Your buyer personas should include a variety of info about your ideal customers. Try to incorporate the following notes into your buyer personas.
- A fake name for your persona
- Location (if relevant)
- Financial situation
- Education level
- Goals (personal and professional)
- Lifestyle notes
- Challenges they face
- Preferred communication channels
- Other relevant demographic info as needed
Here’s a great example of a fully fleshed-out buyer persona you can use for inspiration in creating your own. This one was created by the talented team at Semrush.
As you can see, the buyer persona above is nicely detailed. You get the sense that this might be a real person. Being armed with a persona like this can help you become more empathetic in your writing to craft more targeted content that truly connects.
Be transparent and don’t be afraid to show your human side
Give your customers credit. They understand that there are human beings behind your brand.
The more open you are about showing the human side of your brand, the easier it becomes to build lasting relationships with your customers and your prospective customers.
You can show the human side of your brand with a little creative marketing.
Try these six things.
- Have your team members answer social media queries
- Create videos of your team talking about what it’s like to work at your company
- Use language that’s laid back and more as you’d speak than something you’d read in a textbook
- Be open about your flaws and stop trying to be perfect
- Highlight your community involvement, team member events, and other behind-the-scenes scenarios
- Clearly define your brand’s values and let them shine in all that you do
Lift the curtain to give your audience a glimpse into who’s behind the brand. This helps people connect with you on a deeper level.
Rather than seeing your brand as a faceless corporate entity, your audience sees the people behind the brand, and the values that align with their values, and they are more likely to stick around and become loyal customers.
Final thoughts on creating marketing designed for real people
Companies that overlook the fact that the members of their target audience are human, and instead see numbers and dollar signs, will eventually crumble.
No matter how strong your position may be in the market, today’s super-savvy consumers will lose interest if you fail to connect with them on a deeper level.
It’s the people who buy our products and services who are the main reason behind our success, and it’s time that companies start respecting them and treating them as such.
Take steps to develop a deep understanding of your audience. Then craft marketing that shows you get them and you really care. Don’t be afraid to show your human side. Trust me, it will go a long way.
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