Write to a Target Persona and customers will find you

Ever notice that many of my blog posts read like I’m writing to you? Like I understand what you’re trying to accomplish … and give you something to help you do it?

Well, this isn’t an accident – it is a simple strategy you can copy. I’m going to show you how to make a Target Persona and use it to create content your customers are more likely to find and read.


Target Personas are caricatures of WHO we want to help

When I teach entrepreneurs how to implement a Helpful Marketing™ strategy I start by getting them to create a Target Persona. Your “Target” is the person you’re trying to reach – usually a customer.

The only sure path to failure is trying to write for everyone, build products for everyone, and sell to everyone. This is why most of the web reads like generic, uninteresting crap –

it isn’t written to …

…… or trying to solve problems for ……

……… the only person you care about ………


Finding customers is hard and getting harder every day. Our goal in a Helpful Marketing strategy is to get customers to find us – so we have to first prove we help them solve problems.


Example: my “Dave” Target Persona

Dave is a 35-year-old American who lives in Wichita, Kansas. He is married, college educated, and has a daughter. Dave’s life dream is become an entrepreneur and sell web and mobile products online. He has a full-time job and is willing to work very hard to make his dream a reality. He has some technical skills but unfortunately doesn’t live near a startup hub – and thus he has a hard time connecting with entrepreneurs to get advice when he needs it.

(I have “Dave” variants like Raj, a 40-year-old marketing manager in Chennai and 松桥, a 23-year-old programmer in Shanghai working on her first startup.)

Here’s how you can create and use a Target Persona to get customers to find you.


Step 1: Think of a real person – then write it down

This shouldn’t be hard. Just imagine a specific, real person – not a fictional one – and write it down. “Dave” is based on a real person I know. You don’t have to capture their problems or situation perfectly – you just need use the description to answer this question:

“Will Dave care about this…blog article…product…feature…webinar…?”

If this IS hard … take a pause … if you don’t know WHO you’re trying to reach you already have a big problem. Helpful Marketing – or writing, building products, etc. – is a real waste of time if you don’t know who you’re trying to help.


Step 2: What are trying to help your Target do?

Now comes the hardest part.

Before doing ANYTHING to reach your Target first know what you’re trying to help your target do. After your Target reads…uses…listens…watches…whatever you’re thinking about creating, what will she be able to immediately do that she can’t do now? What problem have you solved for her?

Before starting this post I wrote down the following:

I want help Dave understand the importance of having a Target Persona, how to create one, and how to use it to write content his customers are more likely to read.

I’m quite sure Dave’s hardest problem – and, by extension, yours – is finding more customers and building closer relationships with them. For instance, if Dave is just starting he’s got to find customers to do Customer Development. If I can help Dave write content his customers WANT to read they’ll find him … trust him … tell him their problems … and he’ll build an MVP … which they will buy.


Don’t ask: how will doing this help ME?

Of course I could have asked myself, how can I write something that will get me lots of comments … Tweets & followers … sales … subscribers … make me sound smart…

I don’t do this because it is too hard – too hard to write and even harder to get people to read it.1


Step 3: Write to your Target – with this little trick

Once you know WHO you’re writing to and WHAT PROBLEM you’re helping them solve, writing is suddenly much easier – especially with this little trick.

Literally … write to your Target. The first two words I wrote on this post were the following:

Dear Dave,

Of course I deleted them before publishing, but now you know why my writing reads like it is written to you … because I WROTE TO YOU.

That’s it. Just write … speak … draw … code … to one person.


Target Persona: the 1st step in a Helpful Marketing strategy

When I speak about Helpful Marketing sometimes people ask me, “why do I need a Target Persona? I will help anyone who asks.”

So here’s the deal – Helpful Marketing isn’t about waiting to be asked. It is about aggressively seeking opportunities to prove you are helpful. And – like anything worthwhile in business or life – it takes focus and work.

That’s why having a Target Persona is the very first step. Without one you’ll waste time creating works that speak to nobody in particular.


More Helpful Marketing resources

Helpful Marketing is a strategy to win customers by proving you help them solve problems. If you have questions you can always schedule a call with me – I’ll be thrilled to help you out.


More Helpful Marketing posts I’ve written

Here is a list


Try SoHelpful

If you decide to use Helpful Marketing as part of your Customer Development you may want to try my product, SoHelpful. I’m building it for this purpose.

You can also get free Customer Development help on SoHelpful.


Helpful Marketing 101 course

I’ve also created a drip email course I call Helpful Marketing 101. I’ve learned a lot since writing it and will share more in the months to come.


Ebook: How to Get Customers to Call You for Help

If you prefer something portable I’ve written free ebook I call How to Get Customers to Call You for Help. I send a copy to everyone who tries SoHelpful. Although the language is directed at them, you’ll find the promotional strategies relevant to you even if you don’t want to use SoHelpful.



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Photo by Dia™

  1. This is also why inflammatory “link-bait” articles are a bad idea. They are always written for selfish reasons, short-term attention for little long-term trust
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