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Archive for November 9th, 2011

Most kids ditch their imaginary friends along with their sippy cups and security blankets.

That’s a good thing, right?

Well, marketers have discovered a new benefit to finding (and keeping) those imaginary friends again.

One top advertising agency –- Organic in Detroit –- even gave its imaginary friends their own office space.

Why?

Because these fictional characters, or “personas,” make it much easier to make a deep connection with your writing and content marketing.

“Personas allow them to journey into a relational territory where they can understand on an emotional level the most important determinants of real consumers’ brand preferences and purchase decisions,” Dale Buss writes in Advertising Age, “And personas give marketers a meaningful shorthand for communicating with one another.”

I agree with Mr. Buss. If you’ll humor me for a moment, I want to translate some of that advertising-speak and show you how to create your own imaginary marketing persona … and how he or she can make you a better writer.

Craft your own persona

Creating a persona can help your writing better resonate with audiences -– and it doesn’t require having extra office space.

You only need a willingness to be creative.

Create your own persona by first envisioning your perfect reader.

Then, write down the bare facts: name, age, gender, income, education and marital status. Focus not only on demographics, but also personal details that help you identify with this person on a more intimate level.

You can even do a quick search on Google Images to find a photo that matches the persona. Don’t use stock photos –- you want someone who looks real. (Just don’t share it publically unless you have permission to use the photo.)

The idea here is to get as specific as you can about the appearance of your imaginary friend.

Dive deeper into your persona

Once you’ve filled in the basic facts, write a paragraph or two for each of the following categories:

Personal information Describe her as if she was standing in the same room. Write about her goals, her values, her likes and dislikes. Write about her biggest problems, and the things that keep her up at night.
Needs What are her needs? What problems does she hope that your writing will solve? How are these problems causing her pain and discomfort? What end result does she want, and what end result does she really need? Are they the same?
Influence Here’s where you lay out all the factors that go into her decision to take your advice. What influences her decision? How does she find out about your writing, and why does she remember it? What differentiates you, and why is that important to her?

So, who is your imaginary friend?

Click here to download a PDF that takes a look at what the completed persona from the example above might look like.

Then take the time to create your own persona page.

Once you’ve finished, hang it somewhere you can refer to it often. That way, you can apply your future writing to this persona, and get an idea of whether it will resonate with your target market.

How about you — think you’re too old (or too smart) to have an imaginary friend?

Or maybe you’ve used a persona and found it improved your writing and marketing.

Either way, let us know about it in the comments below.

About the Author: Kelly Kautz is a freelance copywriter who blogs about marketing for small business owners.

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