Imagine you are looking for new running shoes and go to the sports shop. There, a seller asks you how he can help … and then tells you everything you can about a new care spray for winter boots. Well, the good man would have missed his target group entirely, and that’s an absolute no-go – even for online texts. That’s why you can find out everything here about target groups, buyer personas, and how that relates to good content!
Who, what and why anyway? Content Creation 101
Admit it: You must have rolled your eyes when someone introduced themselves as a “content creator”.
Half as bad, forgiven and forgotten – you have probably just never met anyone who can explain the meaning behind this job. And you have to understand that before you can write tailor-made, meaningful content. Let’s go!
Why Web Texters?
Web copywriters write texts for the web. No shit, Sherlock. But does it need a person in the company who only does this? How difficult can it be to write a few words that thoroughly convince visitors to your site (so much so that they keep coming back to you)?
Well, the thing is: You don’t write excellent web text “just like that” – especially in times when many users already have negative expectations due to clickbait articles. Quickly texting alongside, that doesn’t work. Otherwise, you’ll end up with lightning-fast thin or duplicate content. You can find an example of how to do it right in the video:
Just for orientation: Depending on the topic and scope, our texts are usually at least 5-6 hours long, but sometimes a whole working day. What are they doing all day long, you ask yourself? Very easily:
- read in
- structure the text
- Collect info
But before all of this happens, one of the most critical steps comes: Determine the target group!
Why target groups?
Roughly speaking, a target group includes several fictional people who all share specific characteristics. Based on these characteristics, you suspect that they might be very interested in your performance or your product. That’s precisely why you don’t just address everyone worldwide (if you do, good luck with it), but only a comparatively small group.
However, the target group is not a single grey mass, whose members are all absolutely the same. Instead, it consists of different buyer personas. As the name suggests, this is nothing more than a fancy term for a model or representative individuals who are to become your customers.
Attention: “target group” does not mean “professional group”, “average age” etc. These are sub-areas and common characteristics, but far from being meaningful target groups. The people who make up a target group are not one-dimensional robots, but (to put it particularly poetically) multi-layered personalities. And we’re at the end of our theory crash course – time for some action!
The perfect target group
Custom work: define the target group
“We want to address young people!” Anyone who thinks that this sentence has already narrowed down the target group ideally has a little problem: it will take a lot of time and money for content, and yet the effort will not bring much. How then? “Young people” can say anything and nothing. In theory, a baby is a “young person”.
Age is just one of many, many factors that play a role in the target audience. Therefore, your first step should be to set at least the following criteria:
- Demographic background
That means age, origin, size of the household, marital status, religious attitude, … This information can usually be narrowed down somewhat quickly because one has quite precise ideas or even the first data from surveys.
- Socio-economic background
What does your target group earn? What training and what values does it have? What is the current profession?
- Psychographic background
Now it’s getting emotional: What motivation does a user have? Are you curious? Does he want to increase productivity? Perhaps he has a guilty conscience and wants to hear that everything is only half as wild? Does he want to be confirmed in his own opinion, or is he seeking recognition? And, very important: What concerns, concerns and wishes does he bring with him? In other words, what’s the problem?
- buying behaviour
Oh yes, dear money: How sensitive is the user to prices? How satisfied is he with previously purchased products? What range does he have as a (happy) buyer? And what user behaviour does it show – smartphone surfing or access via desktop?
These are far from all questions that should be part of your first considerations, but only the simple framework. The more details you come up with, the better . Go wild on a mind map, go outside and take notes on your smartphone, do a somersault or put on your lucky blue socks to think – in other words, do everything you can to make your target group tangible.
Warning: This does not mean that you should add any feature to your list. Only target group properties that are relevant for you are essential. You can find these on the one hand through careful thought and on the other side through survey values that you ideally have already collected at an earlier point in time.
The joke, do you think now, where should I get it from now? Always calm: Your survey results are great, but in case of doubt, you can simply look at what makes the customers stand out from the competition.
Example 1: Your target audience
To make the whole thing a little clearer, here is a small example. Let’s assume that our target group includes a flat student share:
- Elli, 24, is a biology and sports teacher and earns 300 euros a month in her side job.
- Sarah, 19, is studying computer science and does not yet have a side job. Her parents support her.
- Markus, 21, studies communication science. Depending on how much he tips from the waiter, he has 400-500 euros per month.
The three have a problem: your washing machine is broken. The budget is not exactly high, but nobody wants always to take the laundry to the laundrette around the corner. Sarah believes that the new washing machine should be as cheap as possible; the only important thing is the right environmental balance. If necessary, their parents contribute something.
Elli has bought cheap household appliances many times. She would rather spend more and use a washing machine with a longer lifespan, not least because a 3-person household does a lot of washing. Markus is torn because he cannot rely on a regular salary every month.
The mountains of laundry pile up, the mood is increasingly tense, and a decision has to be made today rather than tomorrow. Oh yes: The flatshare has no car available, so the most practical would be delivery directly home …
Back to our flatshare, where we can, first of all, say: it is about a common urgent problem and very different views. What the three need is:
- no-nonsense advice with all advantages and disadvantages
- a comparison of different models
- a listing of the follow-up costs
- Tips on how to maintain a washing machine
And by the way, we only scratch the surface with it.
It’s getting personal: the buyer persona
So you’ve got a target audience! Now the real fun starts because you want to know who the people behind the somewhat anonymous “people” in the target group are. So you need a fictional (!) Prototype customer or, to put it in marketing language, a buyer persona.
You need more than one buyer persona because we assume that your target group consists of several individuals. You should have two or three buyer personas. At the same time, however, the following applies quality over quantity.
A buyer persona is fictitious, but therefore no less meaningful. So don’t stay on the surface too much. For example, write down …
- the name
- the living situation
- the lifestyle and (among other things) related …
- … the attitude towards sustainability
- what the person could represent for your brand (customer? word of mouth?)
- the marital status and the size of the circle of friends
This is just a small selection. For a buyer persona that you could easily imagine as a real person, it often helps to find a suitable image. Whether on Google, Unsplash, Fotolia or elsewhere: You can find a photo that matches your idea of this person with a few clicks.
If it helps you, you can also try practising breaking down characters in a television series on Buyer Personas first. Michael King from Moz does this using the smurfs as an example and divides it as follows:
- Segments – same properties in the overall picture as, for example, place of residence
- Cohorts – same (experience) values, e.g. generational affiliation
- Personas – specific archetypes with an individual character
If the cartoon is not your thing, you do it with Game of Thrones, Sherlock, the zombies in The Walking Dead – which helps you to make the classification clearer.
That may sound strange and gimmicky, but just give it a try. Nobody needs to know, and it’s guaranteed to be revealing for you.
Example 2: Your buyer personas
Back to our washing machine-less flatshare. If you want to do your job thoroughly, of course, you now create a background for all three.
That means you get to know each of them even better. In Elli’s case, it could look like this:
- Age: 24
- Employment: student
- Side job: Teacher in a tutoring studio plus private tutoring
- Housing situation: Shared apartment in a medium-sized city with average living costs
- Relationship status: single
- Monthly net income: 300 euros, plus/minus fluctuating income of 60-80 euros from private tuition. Elli tries to save additional income.
- Attitudes: quality instead of quantity, long-term benefits, well-considered purchase decisions, independence from parents
- Buying behaviour: compulsory price-sensitive and therefore more likely to be ordered online because better prices can be found here. Elli is not a fan of instalment payments; she doesn’t want to go into debt.
- Potential: rather a unique customer, but with a good rating and, if necessary, recommendation
You can continue this list for as long as you like. You mustn’t let yourself get carried away too much – some properties are then irrelevant. As you can see, it doesn’t happen quickly.
And what does that mean for texting?
Long story short: You need the target group and corresponding buyer personas to be able to coordinate the text correctly. It starts with the speech. If you turn to Elli, Sarah and Markus, it would look rather strange. In contrast, her parents would probably not be enthusiastic about a casual “you”.
The same in green applies to the writing style. One target group will find it utterly okay if you write a bit snotty-casual and occasionally sprinkle in a few Anglicisms. The other would find such a style dubious and would be desperate to find the most complicated box sets. (Okay, almost nobody likes to read involved online. You get the point.)
That means: Linguistic variations that suit the target group are not optional. You are required.
This is at least the case if you want readers to feel taken seriously and understood. The more precisely you can incorporate the previous knowledge of your target group into your content, and the better you meet their expectations, the more valuable for the resonance of your content.
Well, a boring layout has consequences.
Incidentally, this also means that in addition to the actual text, the layout also plays a significant role. With gigantic text blocks on the Internet, nobody thinks, “Wow, awesome!”. Especially when the text block is displayed on the smartphone and therefore looks even more significant.
Your content must be laid out, period. Bulleted lists, pictures, graphics, maybe a meme here and there: there are many possibilities. And it’s not like WordPress and Co. don’t allow gimmicks in this regard.