Bredemarket’s Two Step Target Segment (Persona) Definition Process

I’ve said before that there are six critical questions that you need to ask before creating content. One of those six questions is to ask who the target audience will be for the content.

By David Shankbone – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2786722

How do you decide who your target audience is?

And how do you decide who the target segments are within that target audience?

The professional marketer’s way to define a target segment

A few months ago, some marketers were writing eight pieces of content. At one point, they stepped back and defined personas that corresponded to these eight pieces of content.

Personas? What’s that?

Let’s use Aurora Harley’s definition:

A persona is a fictional, yet realistic, description of a typical or target user of the product. A persona is an archetype instead of an actual living human, but personas should be described as if they were real people.

From https://www.nngroup.com/articles/persona/

Harley shared an example of a persona (go to her article to see it) that incorporated a lot of detail:

  • A name (in this case, “Rosa Cho”)
  • Biographical details (job title, age, city of residence)
  • Behavioral details (what motivates her, her frustrations, her goals)

Why all the detail? Because this detail allows us to think of this abstract persona as a living person. As marketers design their product, they can reference this persona and ask themselves if Rosa Cho would like this content.

So all you have to do is build the personas.

But how do we create Rosa Cho and her persona friends? Do we need weird science to perform this feat?

Maybe.

Or maybe not.

How to create a professional persona in 9 steps, or 4 steps

When professional marketers at large companies create personas, they often use a persona creation process.

For example, Arthur McCay has defined 9 steps in persona creation, as an aid to people who are befuddled with the whole persona creation process.

  • The first of these 9 steps is to perform research to obtain reliable data (rather than mere hypotheses) about your persona. This research may be based on your own knowledge, on interviews with customers and customer-facing salespeople, or on data sources (including web analytics).
  • The remaining 8 steps use this research to segment the audience into individual archetypes, decide on the layout (what the persona will contain), and fill in the details. I’m not going to reproduce all of McCay’s content; you can see all 9 of his steps here.

If you’re someone who thinks that 9 steps is too many steps, perhaps you’ll prefer Louis Grenier’s 4 step process. Although frankly it’s pretty much the same.

  1. Choose questions for your survey
  2. Set up a survey on a popular page
  3. Analyze your data
  4. Build your persona

OK, the emphasis is slightly different, but in both cases you assemble data (McCay uses multiple sources, Grenier uses a survey), analyze it, and then create the personas.

And I’m sure there are a variety of other methods to create personas. If you want to go down the persona creation route, choose the one that works for you.

Why personas?

But why create personas?

Because marketing research emphasizes that persona creation is better than the alternative.

As every professional marketer knows, the data-driven method of persona creation is necessary to create accurate personas. As McCay states:

It is important to keep in mind that a persona is a collective image of a segment of your target audience (TA). It cannot be the face of the entire TA. Nor can it be just one person. You need somewhat of a golden middle.

From https://uxpressia.com/blog/how-to-create-persona-guide-examples

Note that you should never base your target segment on the attributes of a single person. That’s going to skew your data and perhaps overemphasize some quirk of the individual person.

  • For example, if your company were marketing to part-time consultants, and chose to market to me rather than a persona created from data, then your company would erroneously conclude that all part-time consultants have prior experience with FriendFeed and an interest in orienteering.
  • This is not accurate for other part-time consultants, 99.99999% of whom have never heard of FriendFeed and think that orienteering is some form of Japanese study. (It isn’t.)

If you aspire to be a professional marketer, don’t read this

As professional marketers will tell you, using a real person rather than a constructed persona to define your target audience (or target segment) is an absolutely terrible thing to do.

But be terrible.

For some of you, I recommend that you consider using a real person as a starting point.

Large multi-million dollar businesses can devote the resources to the surveys, interviews, analytics, and other steps necessary for thorough persona creation.

But what if you’re a small business and don’t have the time or resources to do all that?

Don’t tell anyone, but you can cheat.

Don’t read this either: two steps to define a target segment

So you’ve read the warnings above, but you’re ready to ignore them and forgo you chance at a Super Duper Marketing Research award (application fee $899, not counting the cost of the awards dinner).

Without further ado, here are Bredemarket’s two steps to define a target segment.

  1. Start with a real person.
  2. Adjust.

If you read above, you realize that this method has severe problems, especially if you skip the second step altogether. By starting your focus with a real person, you could inadvertently create marketing text that emphasizes individual eccentricities that are relatively unimportant.

Is your content true north, or magnetic north?

But if you use your smarts to adjust and generalize the original person, you have a quick and dirty way to create your persona.

Rather than collecting extensive survey results and deriving an artificial persona from those results, you start with a real person.

An example

For example, let’s say that my company Bredemarket is targeting local businesses that need content or proposal creation.

I could start with a real local person who could use Bredemarket’s services, and then adjust that real biography and behavioral attributes as necessary to remove the oddities.

Or I could start with a non-local person and adjust as necessary to make the person a local person, filling in biographical and behavioral details as needed.

Either way, the end product is a quick and dirty persona that Bredemarket can use to target local businesses.

But what do professional marketers do in reality?

But are quick and dirty personas too dirty to use? Shouldn’t we stick to professional marketing techniques and create fictitious personas?

For example, when you create your Rosa Cho persona, how do you depict the persona? Do you use an illustration, or do you use an image of a real person?

One response from a content marketing expert:

Personally prefer illustrations…

From https://www.designernews.co/stories/69356-ask-dn-do-you-use-real-peoples-photos-for-creating-user-personas-or-you-go-for-illustration-option

Another from another content marketing expert:

I prefer real photos. I think they help people empathize with the persona more than an illustration.

From https://www.designernews.co/stories/69356-ask-dn-do-you-use-real-peoples-photos-for-creating-user-personas-or-you-go-for-illustration-option

Obviously both answers are wrong, however. Right?

  • A real photo is obviously a terrible thing to use, because it is based on a real individual and ignores all of the research that you performed to create the rest of the persona.
  • And illustrations can be fallible, since chances are that they don’t incorporate all of your research either. (Does the median 34 year old freelancer from Seattle really look like the illustration? Or does the illustration more accurately depict a 35 year old from Tacoma?)

Let’s face it: persona creation is not merely a science, but also an art. And sometimes you may take artistic license. This content marketing expert gives you permission to do so.

TL;DR Do what you want

There are valid arguments for a 4 step, 9 step, or 96 step (heh) persona creation process.

And there are valid arguments for just winging it.

The important thing is to target somebody when creating content, or having someone create content for you.

Which is why Bredemarket asks customers who their target audience is in the first place. It’s all in Bredemarket’s most recent e-book; read this post to find out how to download the e-book.

Six Questions Your Content Creator Should Ask You: the e-book version

I love repurposing.

So I’ve repurposed my October 30 blog post into an e-book.

This gave me an opportunity to revisit the topic and add critical information on wildebeests, George (H.W.) Bush, and Yogi Berra.

But more importantly, it allows me to share my thoughts with a wider audience.

If you missed the October blog post, I state that there are six critical questions that your content creator must ask before creating content These questions apply whether your content creator is a consultant, an employee at your company, and you yourself.

The e-book discusses each of these six questions:

  1. Why?
  2. How?
  3. What?
  4. Goal?
  5. Benefits?
  6. Target Audience?

And as I note in the e-book, that’s just the beginning of the content creation process.

Whether you intend to use Bredemarket as your content creator, use someone else as your content creator, or create your own content, the points in this e-book are helpful. They can be applied to content creation (case studies, white papers, blog posts) or proposal work, and apply whether you are writing for Inland Empire West businesses or businesses anywhere.

And if you read the e-book, you’ll discover why I’m NOT sharing it on the Bredemarket Identity Firm Services LinkedIn page and Facebook group.

You can download the e-book here. And you can be a content marketing expert also.

Six questions your content creator should ask you

If you want a content marketing expert to write for your business, do you just say “Write this, and make it viral”?

Not THAT viral. (Too soon?) By Alexey Solodovnikov (Idea, Producer, CG, Editor), Valeria Arkhipova (Scientific Сonsultant) – Own work. Scientific consultants:Nikitin N.A., Doctor of Biological Sciences, Department of Virology, Faculty of Biology, Lomonosov Moscow State University.Borisevich S.S. Candidate of Chemical Sciences, Specialist in Molecular Modeling of Viral Surface Proteins, Senior Researcher, Laboratory of Chemical Physics, Ufa Institute of Chemistry RASArkhipova V.I., specialization in Fundamental and Applied chemistry, senior engineer, RNA Chemistry Laboratory, Institute of chemical biology and fundamental medicine SB RAS, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=104914011

Six words of instruction will not result in great content.

Even if you just say “Write this” and leave off the viral part, this will not work either.

You and your content creator have to have a shared understanding of what the content will be.

For example, as I indicated in a previous post, you and your content creator have to agree on the tone of voice to use in the content. The content creator could write something in a tone of voice that may not match your voice at all, which would mean that the content would sound horribly wrong to your audience.

Imagine a piece for financial executives written in the style of Crazy Eddie. Ouch.

From https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ml6S2yiuSWE

And that’s just one thing that could go wrong when you and your content creator are not on the same…um, page.

Bredemarket’s content creation process includes six questions

When Bredemarket works with you to create content, I use a content creation process. I’ve revised my original content creation process several times, and I’m sure I’ll revise it more as I work with more of you.

But as of today, Bredemarket’s kickoff meetings with clients begin with six high-level questions that set the scene for everything that follows.

Question One: Why?

As I noted in my Simon Sinek post, the “why?” question needs to be answered before any other question is asked.

Before you ask a content creator to write a case study about how your Magnificent Gizmo cures bad breath, you need to understand why you’re in the good breath business in the first place. Did you have an unpleasant childhood experience? Were you abandoned at the altar? WHY did you care enough to create the Magnificent Gizmo in the first place?

(As I write this post, I’m going to look at how each of these six questions can be answered for the post itself. After all, it’s fair to ask: Why does Bredemarket do what it does? Short answer: because I write. You can pry my keyboard out of my cold dead hands. For the longer answer, read the “Who I Am” page on the Bredemarket website.)

Question Two: How?

You also need to make sure your content creator can explain how you do what you do. Have you created your own set of algorithms that make breath good? Do you conduct extensive testing with billions of people, with their consent? How is your way of doing things superior to that of your competitors?

(Now if you’re asking the “how” of Bredemarket, my content creation process is the “how.” After these initial six questions, there are other things that I do, and things that you do. Here’s how I create content of 400 to 600 words. Here’s how I create content of 2,800 to 3,200 words.)

Question Three: What?

Once these are clear in your mind, you’re ready to talk about the “what.” As Sinek notes, many people start with the “what” and then proceed to the “how,” and may or may not even answer the “why.” But when you ask the “why” first and the “how” second, your “what” description is much better.

(Again, you may be asking what Bredemarket does. I craft the words to communicate with technical and non-technical audiences. For additional clarification, read “What I Do,” which also notes what I don’t do. Sorry, finger/face/ID document vendors.)

Question Four: Goal?

Once the Golden Circle is defined, we’re ready to dig a little deeper into the specific piece of content you want. We’re not ready to talk about page count and fonts, yet, though. There’s a few other things we need to settle.

What is the goal of the content? Simple awareness of the product or service you provide? Or are you ready for consideration? Or is it time for conversion? The goal affects the content dramatically.

(In the case of this post, the goal is primarily awareness, but if you’re ready for conversion to become a paying customer, I won’t turn you away.)

Question Five: Benefits?

I’ve written ad nauseum on the difference between benefits and features, so for this question five about benefits I’ll just briefly say that written content works best when it communicates how the solution will help (benefit) the customer. A list of features will not make a difference to a customer who has specific needs. Do you meet those needs? Maintain a customer focus.

(Bredemarket’s primary benefit is focused content that meets your needs. There are others, depending upon your industry and the content you require.)

Question Six: Target Audience?

This one is simple to understand.

  • If you’re a lollipop maker and you’re writing for kids who buy lollipops in convenience stores, you’ll write one way.
  • If you’re a lollipop maker and you’re writing to the convenience stores who could carry your lollipops, you’ll write another way.

Now sometimes content creators get fancy and create personas and all that (Jane Smith is a 54 year old single white owner of a convenience store in a rural area with an MBA and a love for Limp Bizkit), but the essential thing is that you understand who you want to read your content.

(This particular piece is targeted for business owners, executives, directors, and managers, especially in California’s Inland Empire, who have a need to create focused content that speaks to their customers. The target audience not only affects how I am writing this post, but also how I will distribute it.)

What if you use a different content creator?

I am forced to admit that not everyone chooses Bredemarket to create their content.

  • Maybe you create your content yourself.
  • Maybe you already have access to content creators.
  • Or maybe you have a limited budget and can only pay a penny a word to your content creator. Let’s face it, a five dollar blog post does sound attractive.

But that doesn’t mean that you can’t use these six questions. I did publish them, after all, and they’re based on questions that others have asked.

If you create your own content, ask yourself these six questions before you begin. They will focus your mind and make your final content better.

If you have someone else create your content, make sure that you provide the answers for your content creator. For example, if you seek a content creator on Upwork or Fiverr, put the answers to these questions in your request for quotes. Experienced writers will appreciate that you’re explaining the why, how, what, goal, benefits, and target audience at the very beginning, and you’ll get better quotes that way. If someone knows your target audience is crime scene examiners, then you’ll (hopefully) see some quotes that describe the writer’s experience in writing for crime scene examiners.

And if you provide the answers to those six questions and your content creator says, “That doesn’t matter. I write the same for everyone,” run away.

You’ve probably seen the film. By Wikifan75 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=29042440

Maybe the resulting content will even go viral. (The good viral.)

What if you want to use Bredemarket?

Or perhaps you’ve decided that you don’t want to trust your content to someone on Upwork and Fiverr, and you want to work with me instead. After all, I can help you with white paperscase studiesblog postsproposal responses, or other written content. (Well, unless the written content involves finger, face, driver’s license, or related identity services. There’s the day job, you know.)

Ah, we’ve moved from awareness to consideration. Great.

If I can work with you to create your written content, please contact me.

And to make our meeting even smoother, start thinking about the answers to the six questions I posed above.

Why Visionaries Keep Their Mouths Shut

(To the person who has been waiting for this post: yes, I finally got it out.)

I’ve followed Brian Brackeen for years, starting when I worked for IDEMIA. He posted the following observation on Saturday August 13:

Is anyone who puts visionary in their LinkedIn title actually a visionary?

From https://twitter.com/BrianBrackeen/status/1558463913771016193

Most if not all of us on Twitter agreed with Brackeen, with some noting that an exception should be granted for opthamologists and optometrists. My contribution to the discussion was to note that Reid Hoffman, the co-founder of LinkedIn, didn’t call himself a visionary.

I also observed:

Actual visionaries probably DO think of themselves as such. Whether they explicitly say so publicly is another matter.

From https://twitter.com/JEBredCal/status/1558645370397175809

But there was something that I didn’t tweet regarding calling yourself a visionary. Namely, what visionaries say instead of saying “I’m a visionary.”

They’re more intent on communicating the vision, rather than their place as a visionary.

What Steve Jobs said about the successful iMac

Let’s go back to the 1990s, when Steve Jobs returned to the company then known as Apple Computer.

By Rob Janoff – This vector image was created by converting the Encapsulated PostScript file available at Brands of the World (view • download).Remember not all content there is in general free, see Commons:Fair use for more.This tag does not indicate the copyright status of the attached work. A normal copyright tag is still required. See Commons:Licensing., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10326626

While some would probably disagree, many would argue that Steve Jobs was truly a visionary. Throughout his life, he shared several visions for technology, many of which changed the world.

One of those visions was Jobs’ vision of the iMac. People anticipated that Jobs’ return to the company he co-founded would result in some new insanely great thing. But when Jobs talked about the iMac, he didn’t say, “I’m Steve Jobs, and this is my next revolution.” Instead, he took a customer focus and talked about what his next revolution would do.

(The iMac) comes from the marriage of the excitement of the Internet with the simplicity of Macintosh. Even though this is a full-blooded Macintosh, we are targeting this for the #1 use consumers tell us they want a computer for, which is to get on the Internet, simply and fast.

From https://appleinsider.com/articles/18/08/15/apples-revolutionary-imac-is-20-years-old-and-still-going-strong

Nothing about “I am Steve Jobs.”

Nothing about “This is Apple Computer.”

No, his message was that consumers want to “get on the Internet, simply and fast.”

Of course, because it was Jobs, there also had to be a design component in the iMac, and this is the time that we learned that Jony could be spelled with only one “n” and no “h.”

By Stephen Hackett – 512 Pixels; license appears at footer, All iMac G3 images are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License., CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=98724350

In some ways, the iMac message was more compelling because the consumer market was catching up with Jobs’ vision.

  • When the original Macintosh was introduced, the market wasn’t necessarily convinced that an easy-to-use computer was a necessity. (The market would take a few years to catch up.)
From https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R706isyDrqI
  • Back when the first Apple I was introduced, the market didn’t necessarily believe that many people needed a home computer.
By Apple Computer Company, Palo Alto, CA. – Scanned from page 11 of the October 1976 Interface Age magazine by Michael Holley Swtpc6800, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=14202549
  • But by the late 1990s, there was a strong desire for people to surf the World Wide Web on the Internet, and therefore people were more receptive to Jobs’ message.

What happened? The iMac was introduced, and while some predicted that the lack of a floppy drive would doom the product, it seemed that Internet access made the floppy drive less significant.

Oh, and one more thing:

Of course, (Ken) Segall also noted that the use of the “i” could later be adapted to future Apple products. Which, of course, it was.

From https://appleinsider.com/articles/18/08/15/apples-revolutionary-imac-is-20-years-old-and-still-going-strong

And Apple Computer changed its name, because it was no longer just an insanely great computer company.

What John Sculley said about the unsuccessful Knowledge Navigator…or was it actually a success?

Now at the time, critics could argue that Apple Computer lacked customer focus. After all, why release a computer that didn’t have a floppy drive? That’s as customer-unfriendly as releasing a non-DOS computer in 1984.

But there’s a difference between short-term customer focus and long-term customer focus.

There are many points in Apple’s long history in which it could have opted for the safe and sane approach. And perhaps that could have yielded a nice quarterly profit without pouring all that money into silly stuff, including the 1987 Knowledge Navigator concept video.

From https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=umJsITGzXd0

Apple never built the Knowledge Navigator. I don’t think that even John Sculley expected Apple to build the Knowledge Navigator. And even if he had tried to get it built, the public loudly told him that the idea was stupid and he didn’t know what he was talking about.

But Sculley’s concept (for which he credited Alan Kay) had more customer focus than the customers of 1987 realized. Over the years, actual products were released that could trace their lineage back to Knowledge Navigator, ranging from Clippy to Google Assistant to Teams/Zoom/et al…

…to the iMac.

Sometimes it takes some time, and several visionaries, to realize the vision.

What Bredemarket says about communicating your vision

Perhaps you’re a visionary in the Inland Empire that is readying your own iMac or Knowledge Navigator or better pizza topping.

And you want to communicate your vision to potential customers via some type of written content.

But before you write a single word of that content, you need to ask yourself some questions (even for a short piece of content):

  • Why does your offering change your customers’ lives?
  • How will it change their lives?
  • What is the offering?
  • What is the goal of the piece of content?
  • What are the benefits (not the features, the benefits) of your offering?
  • Who is the target audience for this content?

When Bredemarket works with you to create written content, these are just some of the questions that I ask you to ensure that the final written product will achieve results.

If I can work with you to create your written content, please contact me.

ArcGIS StoryMaps: Every story has a place, and every place has a story

B2B content creators often find themselves telling stories to drive their readers to take action. Usually the desired action is to do business with the company telling the story. But as Redlands-headquartered company ESRI demonstrates with ArcGIS StoryMaps, there are many ways to tell a story.

Why tell stories?

Now you could easily adopt a “just the facts” approach to sharing the necessary information, but your potential customers’ eyes may glaze over.

Joe “The Facts” Friday was not a content marketer. By NBC Television – eBayfrontback, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=33340402

About a year ago, when I was selling Bredemarket’s services to a potential biometric client (obviously before I announced Bredemarket’s change in business scope and stopped providing services to finger/face clients), I started off by presenting a SWOT analysis. For those not familiar with the term, “SWOT” stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

By Syassine – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=31368987

For the topic of discussion with my potential client, I went through my independent analysis of all four of these items, engaging the people in the meeting who suggested some improvements. This SWOT analysis led into a presentation of the services that I could provide to the firm—services that addressed the weaknesses and threats that we had mutually identified.

What happened? I signed a contract with the company and worked on multiple projects to successfully address those weaknesses/threats.

Do you see what I did there?

As you probably noticed, I just told a story that had a conflict, actions, and a final resolution. “And they all sold biometric products happily ever after.”

Now SWOT analyses may not be your preferred type of storytelling, and frankly I usually don’t use SWOT analyses to tell stories. Stories can be of the “what happened to a company” or “what happened to me” form. For example, I recently told a “what happened to a company” story when talking about Conductor’s use of Calendly.

And some stories emphasize the “where.” No, not as one of the six factors of authentication, but as a setting for the story.

Enter ESRI and its ArcGIS StoryMaps product.

What does ArcGIS StoryMaps do?

On April 20, 2022, ESRI announced its introduction of ArcGIS StoryMaps, saying that “StoryMaps Allows Content Creators to Unify Digital Experiences in One Place Furthering Esri’s Mission to Bring the Geographic Approach to All.” In its announcement, ESRI started by presenting the problem:

Capturing and sharing life’s experiences today often requires multiple platforms and tools, which can result in disjointed storytelling.

From https://www.esri.com/about/newsroom/announcements/esri-brings-powerful-mapping-technology-to-everyone-with-new-storytelling-tool/

ArcGIS StoryMaps seeks to allow marketers and other content creators to use a single easy-to-use tool to tell their stories. As ESRI’s video on ArcGIS StoryMaps states, “Every story has a place, and every place has a story.” StoryMaps helps people tell place stories.

From https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kl-J9GjieYM

For an example of a StoryMap, go to https://storymaps.arcgis.com/stories/42b1a6fe6a524b578becd12c0bee4b4c to view “Sounds of the Wild West: An audio tour of Montana’s four major ecosystems.” Be sure to unmute the sound! (It’s an audio tour.)

What about YOUR story?

Now ESRI hasn’t asked me to tell stories for them (yet), but perhaps your Redlands-based company might want a storyteller. Consider the Redlands, California content marketing expert, Bredemarket. I provide marketing and writing services in the Inland Empire and throughout the United States.

Here are just a few examples of what Bredemarket can do for your firm:

I can provide many more B2B services; a complete list can be found here.

Before I create a single word, I start by asking you some questions about your content:

  • Why, how, and what do you do?
  • What is the topic of the content?
  • What is the goal that you want to achieve with the content?
  • What are the benefits (not features, but benefits) that your end customers can realize by using your product or service?
  • What is the target audience for the content?

After you’ve provided the relevant information to me, I’ll create the first iteration of the content, and we’ll work together to create your final content. The specifics of how we will work together depend upon whether you have elected the Bredemarket 400 Short Writing Service, the Bredemarket 2800 Medium Writing Service, or something else.

When we’re done, that final content is yours (a “work for hire” arrangement).

If I can help your business, or if you have further questions about Bredemarket’s B2B content creation services, please contact me.

Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle: When Your Goal, Benefits, and Target Audience aren’t Enough

Via Bredemarket, I work with a number of clients who ask me to create content for them. Since last September, I have used an internal “kickoff guide” form to start my conversations with these clients.

Header of September 2021 Bredemarket Kickoff Guide

While I thought that this kickoff guide was pretty good, I just revised it to make it even better.

The September 2021 iteration of the Bredemarket kickoff guide

I developed the Bredemarket kickoff guide to address a number of issues, including the style limitations of Google Docs. But the primary issue that prompted the kickoff guide was the need to capture as much information about a client project in the early stages, to reduce later rework.

The primary set of questions that I asked was a set of questions that I’ve talked about ad nauseum (literally). Before getting into the nuts and bolts of the content itself, there were three critical questions that I asked the client:

  • What is the goal that you want to achieve with the content?
  • What are the benefits (not features, but benefits) that your end customers can realize by using your product or service?
  • What is the target audience for the content?

There were two reasons that I asked these questions. First, I believed that the client’s final collateral would benefit if I asked these questions. Second, I believed that Bredemarket would benefit by differentiating itself from other writers who just launched into “the facts” questions about the content.

Jack Webb as Sgt. Joe Friday.
Joe “The Facts” Friday was not a content marketer. By NBC Television – eBayfrontback, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=33340402

If I may pat myself on the back, these are pretty good questions.

But is there anything else that I should be asking?

Simon Synek’s “Golden Circle”

I’m currently taking a course from HubSpot Academy, and one of the instructors mentioned Simon Sinek’s “Golden Circle.”

This goes beyond a particular product or service, and addresses a company’s reason for being. Here’s what HubSpot says about the need for the “Golden Circle”:

…what Sinek found is that most companies do their marketing backwards. They start with their “what” and then move to the “how.” Most of these companies neglect to even mention “why.” More alarmingly, many of them don’t even know why they do what they do!

From https://blog.hubspot.com/customers/3-takeaways-from-start-with-why

Contrast this with companies (Apple is an oft-cited example) that know why they do what they do, and effectively communicate this. It may be hard to believe this, but for Apple, the “why” question is even more important than the latest color of its products (current iteration: “it’s green”).

So can Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle help my clients receive better marketing collateral, and can it help me (and Bredemarket) differentiate myself from other writers? And if so, what do I have do to achieve these benefits for my clients and myself?

The April 2022 iteration of the Bredemarket kickoff guide

One part of the answer was to revise my kickoff guide. In the latest iteration, I precede my goal/benefits/target audience questions with three questions derived from Sinek’s “Golden Circle,” starting with the all-important “why” question.

(“Why”: it’s not just for multi factor authentication!)

Of course, I still have to use the revised kickoff guide with a client, but I hope to do this shortly in one way or another. If you could like me to use this kickoff guide with your firm to help create meaningful, relevant content:

Postscript: an example of repurposing

This post was repurposed from a comment that I made in the HubSpot Community in response to the course that I’m taking.

Communicating benefits (not features) to identity customers (Part 2 of 3)

[Link to part 1] | [Link to part 3] | [Link to part 4]

(Updated 4/16/2022 with additional information on benefits.)

This is a continuation of a previous post, in which I explained the difference between benefits and features, and why you sometimes have to act like an irritating two-year old to convert a feature into a benefit (the “so what?” test).

As I promised in that previous post, I plan to dive into issues more specific to identity customers, such as when a two hour response time matters, when a one minute response time matters, and when a one second response time matters.

Who are identity customers?

Before I dive into response times, let’s explain who identity customers are, because not all identity customers are alike.

When I use the term “identity” at Bredemarket, I am referring to any technology that can be used to identify an individual. This does not just relate to biometrics (fingerprint identification, facial recognition, etc.), but to any of the five factors of authentication that can identify an individual. A physical or digital driver’s license. A fob. A secret handshake. A geographic location. Even a password.

Obviously there are a ton of customers that use identification technologies, and they care about a ton of things.

Well, what if we focus our discussion and talk about a SINGLE product, such as automated biometric identification systems (ABIS)? We can market to all ABIS customers with a single set of benefit statements, right?

Um, no.

ABIS can be sold to all sorts of different customers, ranging from local police agencies to state welfare benefit administrators to national passport issuing agencies.

Well, what if we focus our discussion and talk about a SINGLE type of customer for a single product, such as the local law enforcement agencies that buy ABIS? We can market to all local law enforcement ABIS customers with a single set of benefit statements, right?

Um, no.

If I am going to sell an ABIS to the city of Ontario, California (sorry Thales), these are the types of customers (or target audiences) that I have to cover with separate benefit statements:

By FBI – http://www.fbi.gov/news/photos, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18500900
  • The field investigators who run across biometric evidence at the scene of a crime, such as a knife with a fingerprint on it or a video feed showing someone breaking into a liquor store.
  • The examiners who look at crime scene evidence and use it to identify individuals.
  • The people who capture biometrics from arrested individuals at livescan stations.
  • The information technologies (IT) people who are responsible for ensuring that Ontario, California’s biometric data is sent to San Bernardino County, the state of California, perhaps other systems such as the Western Identification Network, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
  • The purchasing agent who has to make sure that all of Ontario’s purchases comply with purchasing laws and regulations.
  • The privacy advocate who needs to ensure that the biometric data complies with state and national privacy laws.
  • The mayor (Paul Leon as I write this), who has to deal with angry citizens asking why their catalytic converters are being stolen from their vehicles, and demanding to know what the mayor is doing about it.
  • Probably a dozen other stakeholders that I haven’t talked about yet, but who are influenced by the city’s purchasing decision.

As you can see, there are a ton of people who are going to read a proposal to provide an ABIS to a city, and they all have differing needs that need to be addressed…and different benefits that have to be emphasized.

Benefits of a feature are customer-dependent

Now let’s take one of my feature statements from my first post and try to convert it to a benefit for one or more of these stakeholders. I’m going to choose this one:

  • This product captures latent fingerprints at 1000 pixels per inch.

Right off the bat, I’ll tell you that 1000 ppi latent fingerprint capture doesn’t make a bit of difference to the majority of the stakeholders. Paul Leon isn’t going to care. The purchasing agent SHOULD care (1000 ppi data requires more storage than 500 ppi data, which translates to more cost), but probably isn’t going to know that he/she should care.

With the possible exception of the IT personnel, the only people that care about 1000 ppi capture are the examiners who use crime scene evidence and use it to identify individuals. And needless to say, the examiners that concentrate on face or iris or voice or DNA data aren’t going to care about a fingerprint capture specification.

So if I’m writing a proposal to the city of Ontario, California, I’m going to make sure that the latent fingerprint capture section of the proposal discusses my product’s ability to capture latent fingerprints at 1000 ppi.

Wait for it…

SO WHAT?

Absent the benefit of standards compliance that ensures that Ontario data can be processed by state and national systems, the chief benefit of 1000 ppi latent fingerprint capture is that it provides a higher probability that examiners can positively identify criminals and solve more crimes.

An explanation: because latent fingerprints are often of poor quality – the criminals don’t usually take the time to ensure that the fingerprint evidence they leave at crime scenes is readable – latent examiners often benefit from having higher-resolution 1000 ppi latent fingerprint images, rather than the lower-resolution 500 ppi latent fingerprint images that were common in 20th century fingerprint systems. This higher resolution can make it easier for a latent fingerprint examiner to match a latent to a criminal’s tenprint fingerprint from a previous arrest, leading to the “solve more crimes” benefit.

So you’re going to come up with separate benefit statements for examiners, separate ones for livescan operators, and separate benefit statements for each of the stakeholders. And each of these benefits will be enumerated in the section of the proposal that the individual stakeholder will read. (News flash: hardly anyone reads the entire proposal; they only read the section that pertains to them.)

(4/16/2022: For additional information on benefits, click here.)

What’s next?

Well, I never got around to my two hour vs. one minute vs. one second question, and this post is getting long, so I guess I’ll address that topic in a third post.

In the meantime, if you’re an identity product/service provider that needs help in communicating customer benefits in proposals, case studies, white papers, blog posts, and similar written output, Bredemarket can help. Contact me.