Whenever we write a piece of content, it’s done so with the idea of someone reading it. The reader might be a customer, a client of ours, another blogger, or even just a colleague. This is especially true as we all continue to adjust to the new world of COVID-19, and the way the outbreak and social distancing guidelines sparks fundamental changes to our daily lives. Marketing content needs to take these new developments into consideration, otherwise brands risk making readers feel isolated and forgotten. On the other hand, though, if companies go too far by writing COVID-inspired content that feels disingenuous, an audience may have less reason to trust messaging or voice.
Regardless, these pieces never exist in a vacuum. However you are producing written marketing content, it’s vitally important that it’s composed with an audience in mind. By understanding where your reader is coming from and their specific pain points and needs, you can craft messaging to speak to them directly. While it may not be possible to write a personalized blog for every single client or potential lead, keeping the importance of context top of mind will help to make your content feel meaningful, regardless of where in the funnel your reader may be.
Content Marketing Personas and Generalizations: Good or Bad?
The people who read your content likely come from a diverse number of backgrounds and situations. They’re listening to what you have to say for a confluence of reasons, ranging from mild curiosity to a pinpointed need for your services. While marketing is about positioning messaging towards readers, it’s unrealistic to have detailed information on anyone who clicks to your page. For that reason, content marketers often use personas to create general outlines for types of readers. Studies have actually shown that these personas lead to a vast improvement in customer engagement; in fact, 81% of online customers say they want customized content that feels relevant to them.
However, it’s important to understand that these characterizations should only be used as a guide. The behaviors of customers are both synchronous and random. There are plenty of tools you can use to get a feel for what is important to your target market, such as keyword planning, internal content audits, and context workshops. But, regardless of what approach you take, you’ll need to blend both the generalization and personalization aspects of great content marketing.
The COVID-19 pandemic provides a clear example of how these generalizations can be helpful, yet limiting. Everyone is going through these changes, although their specific situations are different and unique. While one reader may be stuck at home under strict shelter-in-place guidelines, another may be deemed an essential worker, and have the added stress of spending their day at a place of work. Perhaps one person has yet to see much of an impact around them, another may have just lost a loved one to the virus. While the specific context of marketing during COVID-19 is going to vary from person to person, as a marketer trying to connect with your target audiences you know that the general context of most everyone in the world has something major in common. That means you can skip telling people that we’re in a pandemic—everyone knows that by now. It means you can anticipate that people may be a little more anxious or frustrated than this time last year, which can help you better determine the tone your SEO and content marketing needs to take. If you want to build a genuine connection, cutting through the same messages every brand out there is sharing about the pandemic is a surefire way to do so—as long as you’re keenly aware of the specific context of your target reader.
The Journey of the Content Marketing Reader: Marketing During a Pandemic
Let’s get a little meta for a moment. You’re reading this piece about content writing because you want your content writing to be read. You yourself found this blog in one of several ways, perhaps from a social media share, or a general Google search, or maybe even because you’re considering contacting Metonymy Media for some content. Regardless, you arrived here on your own. You have a unique set of experiences, needs, frustrations, and goals. So, my patient reader, why wouldn’t I want my writing to connect with you? Why would I want to write about how to market, when you’re really wondering, “How do you market during a recession?”
Your writing should revolve around a centralized idea: If I were in the reader’s shoes, would this be interesting? Would my information be compelling, or would it be boring? Would my tone be glib in light of the pandemic, or of civil unrest in cities throughout the United States? You may be making some large generalizations, but by considering the experiences of your readers leading up to finding your content, you can write to their needs. You may consider using those personas in order to create a list of valid questions. “Would this reader appreciate my casual tone? Should it be more professional, or more laid back? What about data? Does my reader need hard numbers to make a decision, or are they persuaded by emotional rhetoric?” Whatever those questions are, using them as a guide can be a huge leg up.
Of course, you could always just take a look at our free whitepaper download, “Campfire Content: A Guide to Crafting Unique Content For Your Audience’s Unique Context.” Inside, you’ll find tons more on the importance of context, as well as a wide array of practical steps for making sure your content and B2B storytelling connects with readers. Use the tips and the practical audience content worksheet contained in that whitepaper to help you better develop content for your audiences in our current context, or any other.