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Creating useful personas and tone of voice guidelines

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Creating useful personas and tone of voice guidelines

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These are the slides for my talk at MarketingProfs 2014 B2B Marketing Forum in Boston. It contains some pretty pictures and checklists for creating personas and tone of voice guidelines.

These are the slides for my talk at MarketingProfs 2014 B2B Marketing Forum in Boston. It contains some pretty pictures and checklists for creating personas and tone of voice guidelines.


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Creating useful personas and tone of voice guidelines

  1. 1. Matthew Stibbe @wearearticulate Creating useful personas and tone of voice guidelines
  2. 2. Persona: Matthew * Not actual size
  3. 3. About you
  4. 4. Why is this important?
  5. 5. Reader first, customer first Talk to them about their needs and problems in their language (Not your needs and problems in your language)
  6. 6. What brands have a distinctive ‘voice’?
  7. 7. Brands we like
  8. 8. Personas
  9. 9. What is a persona? ‘Semi-fictional representations of your ideal customer based on real data and some select educated speculation about customer demographics, behaviour patterns, motivations and goals’ (HubSpot definition)
  10. 10. Sample persona
  11. 11. Sample persona
  12. 12. Articulate Persona
  13. 13. Turbine persona
  14. 14. What are they for? • Identification • Targeting • Consistency • Finding hooks • Briefing
  15. 15. Personas are NOT • A product spec in human form • Actual real people • Market research • Everyone • Generic
  16. 16. Research tips • Who knows customers the best? • Composite of real people • Ask actual customers
  17. 17. Let’s make a persona!
  18. 18. Overview • Biography • Day in the life • Reading • Challenges • Needs
  19. 19. Biography • Name • Job title • Employer • Education • Family • Career • Hobbies
  20. 20. Day in the life • Where do they work? • What do they do there? • How do they spend their time? • What do they like? • Dislike?
  21. 21. Reading • What do they read for pleasure? • What do they read for business? • What websites do they like? • What blogs do they visit? • Who do they follow on social media?
  22. 22. Challenges • Pain points • Business challenges • Threats • Development needs • Barriers to progress
  23. 23. Needs • Career opportunities • Business opportunities • Product or service wish list • What would they do if they had three wishes
  24. 24. Your examples
  25. 25. Tone of voice
  26. 26. What is a tone of voice (TOV)? • Branding • Story-telling • Differentiation • Personality • Proof of ‘why’ • Emotional connection
  27. 27. What are they for? • Insight • Change • Permission • Consistency • Briefing • Inspiration
  28. 28. Do your research
  29. 29. Talk to your tribe
  30. 30. Be consistent or look clueless
  31. 31. Don’t do quirky for the sake of it
  32. 32.
  33. 33.
  34. 34. Let’s write a TOV!
  35. 35. Overview • Audience • Voice • Language • Viewpoint • Relationship
  36. 36. Audience • Who are you writing for? • Personas? • Reading age • Education
  37. 37. Voice • For example: • Ironic • Cheeky • Serious • Earnest • Jokey • Formal • Conversational • Who speaks like this? • What other companies use this voice?
  38. 38. Language • Mandatory words? • Forbidden words? • Readability requirements? • Style guide? • British English? American English? • For translation?
  39. 39. Viewpoint • What is your attitude? • What do you know? • Why should people listen? • Who has this attitude? • Platform • Permission • Authority
  40. 40. Relationship • Actual? • Desired? • Who has this relationship?
  41. 41. Your examples
  42. 42. What next?
  43. 43. Matthew Stibbe @wearearticulate

Editor's Notes

  • Or how to attract, convert, close and delight your customers
  • Let me introduce myself as a marketing persona
  • Let’s see if I can build a profile of my audience in my head before I start

    How many agency?
    How many client side?
    Why are you at this conference?
    Why are you in this workshop?
  • The question you’re all asking yourself
  • This is the most important point.

    I’m not interested in ‘personal transport solutions’ but I might like a new BMW
    I’m not interested in ‘financial management solutions’ but I might want an outsourced bookkeeper
    Articulate’s customers aren’t interested in copywriting for its own sake but they are interested in getting more visitors, leads, conversions

    All writing is a conversation between two *people*.

    Personas and TOVs are how you stop talking about your stuff in your words and start talking about their stuff in their words

    Personas help you understand who you are talking to. TOVs help you understand who you are when you write.
  • What brands do we like? (Apple, Google, Virgin etc.)
    What do the have in common? (Great products, clear brand personality)

    Would you say they have a distinctive tone of voice?

    Let’s look at a few examples

  • ‘Woohoo! We’re so excited…’

    Zappos does insane excitement about shoes

  • ‘Loving every minute of it’

    Apple does witty, hipster paradoxes
  • ‘It’s not the usual Yada Yada’

    Google does endlessly a/b tested approachability
  • Virgin does counter-culture and sex appeal

    (Although I spent three hours on the phone with them this week. Calling from BA Concorde Lounge! HA!)
  • Plus sexy provocation and innuendo

    Hard to forget

    Hands up if you could get this kind of copy past your CMO?
  • Who has seen a persona?
    Who has created one?
  • You may need three to six for your company. Too many is a problem. Too few is a problem.

    Talked to Efrat last night – full engaged content marketing genius – but only had one persona.

    Fair enough. But actually within that persona there were different use cases / product interests and that could tweak a master persona.

    Even if you only have one, really getting right helps you talk to their issues.

    What elements do we see on this page?

    How have they written up this PO
  • What about this one?

    This comes out of our HubSpot system and I like the way it’s integrated into the platform
  • You ask who is your customer? Personas answer that question.
    They tell you about your customers’ innermost needs and problems.
    They tell you how to engage with customers in an imaginative and emotional way as well as a logical way.
    They ensure consistency across media, agencies and writers
    They tell you what kinds of messages and writing your customers trust
    They help you brief writers and agencies
  • These are abuses. Get a bad persona and you’ll get bad copy.

    Also, if you don’t have an actual persona, you’ll have an unwritten, ad-hoc persona or multiple ones per writer

    Letting product managers write them, you get product specs in human form ‘John needs inbound marketing content services’.
    It’s not a market research exercise – it’s your IDEAL customer
    Microsoft brief – ‘its for techies and senior management, in business and the public sector for SMBs and enterprise customers’ If you write for everyone you write for noone
    Too generic and you won’t get any differentiation.
  • Even a little bit of bad data is better than no data at all

    Make it clear it’s not a sales call
    Respect people’s time
    Make it easy to help

    Generally sales people know customers better than product people – objections, pain points, they know people’s psychology

    What have you done?
  • The question you’re all asking yourself
  • Get paper and pen or laptops out!

    Write down these headings.

    You can adjust this formula. It’s not written in stone. But it works for us.

    ME: I’m going to try write a persona for this audience by asking you questions
    I want YOU to write personas about YOUR ideal customer so you can take that away with you
  • Let’s get to know someone

    Ask people for their names, job titles, education level
    Write this up on the white board
  • Ask some questions – on your last day in the office, what did you spend most of your time doing – what was the modal task
  • If you want to be credible, it makes sense to know what they already find credible

    What’s your favourite blog?
    What’s your favourite magazine?
    Who’s your favourite marketing opinionator?
  • What’s your biggest marketing problem?
  • Microsoft Word wizard – ‘Write my report’, ‘Write my novel’.

    What product or service would make your life better?
  • This is part of our TOV

    I like the viewpoint ‘the authority on inbound content marketing for techies’.

    I like the relationship we describe as a ‘trusted advisor’

    Well, I would. I wrote it.
  • So we’re going to write one
  • These are common elements in a TOV

    Jot these down – I want YOU to create a TOV using these headlines.
    We’re going to create one for a fictional content marketing agency – ‘The Moon Underwater’. The world’s best content marketing agency.
    Again, your mileage may vary
  • Simpsons and The Sun
  • Ironic (Google)
    Cheeky (Virgin)
    Serious (HP)
    Earnest (McKinsey)
    Jokey (Ben & Jerry’s)

    You know how movie people pitch movies – ‘Jaws in space’ (Alien) – you can use other brands as reference points.
  • Controlled vocabulary
    Readability stats
    Br / US english
    ‘Export’ English
  • Friendly
    Didactic / instructional

    Trend for a kind of ‘censor of morals’ view point (9 out or 10 people pay their taxes on time)
    Or Seth Godin provocative life questions

    What’s your permission/authority – this is really important. For example, Microsoft and SMB
  • Complete stranger
    Very polite
    Very informal
    Downright rude
    Trusted advisor
    The fonz, your doctor, a schoolteacher, Saul Goodman

    Grounded in reality – you can’t be a trusted advisor if you don’t give any advice.
  • This mural is in my street back in London

    You’ll get better copy and better content if you do this. Even a provisional TOV and personas is better than none.

    So now you know you can create a TOV and Persona in less than an hour

    I give you permission to go do it yourself!
  • You have my permission to find your own voice – find your own purple cow. You don’t need to write ‘proper’ or ‘professional’

    (I saw this one on the Southbank in London)

    Keep revisiting your TOV and personas. They’re no good if you don’t keep them up to date.
  • Getting stuck in the lab is pointless. You need to share your TOV and personas widely. People need to use them in every briefing.