Creating a persona is a typical part of the web or user experience design. Web designers need to understand for whom the webpage is created. A good persona provides insight and direction for wording, images, content, tone, and design. I discovered that a persona is also essential for content planning, especially global content planning. You can also personalize your persona with a name. For Intel, our business marketing effort targets IT managers worldwide. We call him Ravi.

Is it possible to create a global persona? The answer is yes, but it requires some work.

Depending on your industry (manufacturing, healthcare, skincare, banking etc.) and products (homogenous or highly localized across regions), it may require several personas to satisfy different geographies’ needs based on audience segmentation.

To create a global persona, find commonalities in your audiences across regions.

A 20-year-old millennial in Beijing may not listen to the same music as one who lives in Munich. However, their love of music and the constant use of a headset are common threads. IT managers in Brazil and in Russia may have different network infrastructures, but they are equally concerned about security threats. Zoom in on common challenges, pain points, needs and desires they share. In order to scale content cross-regions, it’s important to have a global persona to rally headquarters and geographic teams so that they can start from the get-go to target their audiences. I often find that, if headquarters and geographies can’t agree on the target audience, it’s almost impossible to move to the next level of planning and execution.

Big enterprises have marketing research departments that work closely with research agencies and conduct both quantitative and qualitative research on multiple countries to create one or several global personas. Small and medium companies don’t typically have a budget to create a formal global persona. That’s OK. If no one in your marketing organization owns the persona creation or discussion, start one yourself by talking to your sales representatives and conducting your own phone interviews with customers in multiple countries.

Create an informal slide or document with your findings:

  • Demographics
  • Behavioral Attributes
  • Target Audience Budget Range
  • Device Usages
  • Their Peers and Influencers
  • Communications Preferences
  • Content Format Preferences
  • Job Description
  • Keyword Search on Pain Points
  • Job Description

Don’t stress out! Again, you don’t need all the criteria listed above.

For global content planning, at a minimal level, it’s important to know:

  • Job Description
  • Pain Points, Challenges, Needs and Desires
  • Communications Preferences
  • Content Format Preferences

Essentially, what you need to know about your audience is: what are their challenges, needs and desires, and where they go to find content.

Document the persona as much as you can and share that with key stakeholders. It’s OK to create an informal persona and validate that with key relevant stakeholders. This persona will serve as your basis for content planning and agency briefings.

A persona is a living document. The way your persona prefers and consumes content will change over time. Think about it, the way we consumed content before smartphones and the way it’s consumed now is different. Device usage and technology play important roles that should be reflected in your persona description. Ultimately, that insight will help your content planning and content creation, especially content for mobile phone consumption. You need to be cognizant of formats, images, font sizes, and length.

Please bear in mind that a persona is a compass, not a panacea:

  • It’s a tool to help you and your team understand your audience
  • A persona is a tool for editorial and content planning
  • It’s a living document
  • A Persona can be created formally or informally. It can be top-down or bottoms-up driven

A good persona provides insights into your audiences’ attitudes, purchasing behavior, thought process, challenges, and desires. It gives you guidance on what content to create and where to syndicate it. Do you have a persona for your content or marketing effort? What is his or her name?

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