Focus Your Content With Personas

Children mannequinsBuyer Personas are used extensively by marketers and product managers to test and focus their product designs and customer communications. A persona is essentially an archetypal character who could become your fan or customer. More than just a demographic profile of your target audience, a persona is detailed and personalized, usually based on interviews with real customers.

Product managers use personas to prioritize their features and design their user interfaces. Marketers tailor communications and web pages to specific, segmented personas. Personas can help you understand who your audience is, what their needs are, and how, when and where to reach them. Copywriter Karen Goldfarb compares personas to mannequins for your product. Read more of her excellent tips on creating personas here.

Sounds kind of silly. Why should I bother?

This may seem contrived, particularly for musicians. Either people like your music or they don’t, right? Well, there are several benefits to this practice:

  • You will learn a lot about your followers from the interview process. Creating personas will inspire you to dig deeper and get to know your customers and fans.
  • Personas get you thinking about the real value of your product and the needs it meets.
  • Even for a niche business there will be distinct types of people you are serving, who speak and live differently, hang out in different places, and get their information from different sources. Each group may use your products differently, in ways you may not even be aware of.
  • You may ‘discover’ new product ideas as you get to know your customers and their needs.
  • Artists have a potentially vast, international audience. Helping potential fans find you is an enormous challenge. Personas give you an idea where to look, and help you target your communications.
  • For a small service business or product developer, personas can deepen your relationship with existing customers, strengthen your customer care programs, and humanize your sales strategies.

Have you used personas in your business? What’s working for you?

Photo courtesy of Brandon Fick

A fresh look at Artist-to-Audience Communication

In this video clip from the recent Rethink Music conference in Boston, KU’s Nancy Baym (see her new blog: Online Fandom) makes the point that artist – fan collaborations are creating  economic transactions that aren’t generally factored into discussions about declining music revenues.

There’s a lot of work that doesn’t have to get done anymore because audiences do it…fans want to help – Nancy Baym

How do you use social technology to listen?

Ear close upThe social web often seems like a huge cocktail party where everyone is shouting and no one is listening. We all want to be found, and followed, and heard. How can we make real connections that lead to offline friendships and business relationships?

Listening with genuine interest is the key to engaging people. Like anything else, developing this skill requires a great deal of practice.

Platforms like blogs, Twitter and Facebook are not well suited for broadcast communications. If you are not paying attention when a post appears, it’s gone.

I am experimenting with asking questions in various ways.

I am digging into Twitter Search to find interesting conversations and engage people with @replies and questions.

Facebook feels more constrictive to me. I am trying different ways to converse, exploring groups and Pages. Some people like guitarist Ken Rosser, have a knack for using Facebook conversationally. He is always interesting, and each post seems to result in an active conversation.

How are you using social communication tools to really listen? What’s working for you?

Building a personal music brand with blogs and RSS…

Blogging is an indispensable tool for building a personal brand online. RSS feeds provide a slick way to manage blogs and stay on top of your online community. Here are a few things musicians may find useful:

  • If you are using a Mac, as many musicians are, you can add a folder to your Bookmark Bar for your favorite music related blogs. When viewing a site in Safari, click the RSS button in the URL address field. The page will change into a list of all blog posts for this site. The view can be customized with the tools in the right sidebar. Add a bookmark to the folder you have created for this page. When new posts are added, a number indicating new posts will appear to the right of your bookmark (as well as the Bookmark Bar folder). You can do the same thing with any RSS reader, but this is particularly easy with Safari.
  • Review your favorite blogs each day and add comments to posts you are interested in. Be sure to direct folks back to your blog or website to keep the connection and conversation going. This is a simple, effective way to stay connected with like-minded musicians and industry bloggers.
  • You can use RSS feeds to deliver customized content in any number of other ways as well. For example, if you are looking for a job, you can create a custom search at (or any number of other sites), view as RSS and bookmark. This is much more efficient and manageable than sorting through piles of daily email notifications.
  • Make sure that your website and blog are set up for RSS so that your community can follow you and easily engage in the conversation.
  • If you visit topical websites that are not RSS enabled (for example, local live music listings wherever you may be), let the site owners know that you want to subscribe to an RSS feed.

RSS is a powerful tool that will help you to keep your blog current and communicate with your community, whether you are at home, on a laptop somewhere, or using a mobile device.

Just remember, always be authentic in your communication. Before you hit the ‘post’ button ask yourself if you really have something to say that is adding value and coming from a deeper personal place.