Not too long ago, but a while before research by InboundWriter revealed that over 80% of online content marketing strategies drive little or no organic traffic, a man named Cragney had an idea. He decided that he’d had enough of his job harvesting candlenuts, so handed in his notice. The hours were long, the pay barely enough to feed his three children, and he was severely allergic to candlenuts. But crucially, he had this big idea. An idea that was going to make him rich.
Wherever he looked and whoever he spoke to, Cragney noticed that everyone was buying and selling homes. Big houses, small houses, flats, garage conversions, even houseboats moored on the M25 towpath. The more he searched the small town of Knutlingfield, the more he was convinced of the excellence of his idea to open an estate agent there. Right on the high street in a premises between The Money Shop and a wonderfully old-fashioned bakery.
After serving his notice period, Cragney got down to work. He devised a business plan (get lots of properties on his books and sell them for a fixed fee – it would be a case of success via low margin, high volume). He then bought the location, commissioned a sign (Cragney & Lucy Estate Agents) and then prepared himself for the hoards that would pile through his door on opening day.
The trouble was, no one came. Not even a curious bystander keen to sample the small selection of cakes Cragney had made himself to mark the grand opening. In all his fervour to start his business, Cragney had failed to take time to consider his marketing strategy. He’d failed to promote his new business, but even worse he’d neglected to identify his ideal customers.
As the weeks and months dragged by, trade was sluggish at best and Cragney’s losses started to mount. He hit upon the idea of organising a leaflet drop around Knutlingfield, took out full-page ads in the local press, and brought in web development specialists to build him the most functional estate agent website the house hunters of Knutlingfield had ever seen.
But all to no avail. The other estate agents in the regional mid-west to east stretch of swampland that lies between the M25 and the M25 towpath had already cornered the market. And nobody wanting to buy or sell a property would touch Cragney because they didn’t believe he had the expert knowledge they required. After all, what did a former candlenut harvester know about the property market?
Not only that, Cragney’s efforts to market his business had fallen wide of the mark because he’d bought a vast database containing the details of 3 million under 18-year-olds, who were years away from entering the property market.
The lesson learned by Cragney and Lucy – Cragney’s sister, who he had brought on board to help him cope with the expected rush of clients – reminds us that knowing your customer is a cornerstone of any selling relationship. And while that might be obvious when opening an estate agent in a provincial English town with very little passing trade, it’s also an important step in building a successful content marketing strategy.
When it comes to creating online content, you need a clear idea of the audience you want to engage, what you want them to get out of it, and what action you want them to take. It’s impossible to do this without knowing who they are. That’s where personas come in.
Unlike demographic descriptions (although they are heavily informed by demographic information), personas are detailed descriptions of a person who you would like to attract – a set of ideal customers. The important thing is to know who you are marketing to.
We’ll come onto developing your customer personas and how you go about it, but first, keep in mind that research is your best friend when getting to know your audience. Knowing your audience takes a lot of research, and you will need to research demographics and psychographics to get a sense of the desires and values of your audience. What do they value in a product or service? What are their desires or ambitions? Where are their pain points?
In conducting your research, look at forums and social sites, customer reviews, forms and surveys, and customer service feedback. Ask customers questions. When creating a persona, you’re essentially creating a type of personality or profile that represents a portion of your audience. So the more you know about your audience, the better.
Take whatever demographic and psychographic data you have available and use it to paint a picture of who your personas are. Male or female? Old or young? Using this as a starting point, you can build up a full picture of your personas (a good marketing strategy should have different ones). By gathering data on your target audience’s media consumption, job type and industry, level of income, leisure activities, hobbies and interests, likes and dislikes, values, fears and worries, ambitions and desires, you will start to gain a clear picture of your customer.
Armed with a coherent picture of who you are trying to attract, you will be far better positioned to draw them in. Of course, this is only the beginning of any good content marketing strategy – the next stage is brainstorming a steady drumbeat of content which will appeal to each of your personas and allow you to be viewed as a source of expert knowledge.
When content marketing first became a buzz phrase, too many businesses jumped on the bandwagon and started to produce vast amounts of worthless material that failed to consider the objectives of their content strategy.
A far better approach is to focus less on the volume of content you publish and more on the quality of that material. If only a small portion of your content truly drives results, your challenge is to create assets that will have a significant and sustainable impact, as measured by an engaged audience, strong returns on your content and marketing investments, and competitive advantage.
HubSpot offers further guidance on how to create personas.
Your website may contain every detail about the properties on your books, (or whatever you sell) but do you offer visitors anything else? To be the number one estate agent in your area, you need to be viewed as the property expert.
Unfortunately, this advice came too late for Cragney, and he was forced to sell the high street premises. Today, Cragney lives a comfortable life running his Raspberry Beret online store and living in a rather grand houseboat that is moored not too far from Knutlingfield on the M25 towpath.
The moral of the story?
Make sure you define your personas before you set about devising a content marketing strategy that will position your business as a source of expert knowledge.
The Art Division blog aims to entertain, engage and share our content marketing expertise with our current clients and prospective customers. For more information about how Art Division can improve your digital marketing, contact us today.Tags: Content Marketing, Digital Marketing, Estate and Letting Agents, Social Media Marketing