Getting to Know You: Creating Actionable Marketing Personas

Let’s face it. When was the last time you really looked at your company marketing personas and actually used the information contained in them to create content from a different angle than the one you were going to take anyway? Never? Rarely?

Then why do we keep creating the same personas over and over again?

The answer is both simple and complex. Marketing personas are widely used and considered a staple for marketing. However, rarely are they referred to in day-to-day marketing practices. So what’s the disconnect – and what makes creating a marketing persona actionable?

The Persona Problem(s)

The issue with the way most marketers, especially small businesses, create personas is that they follow a template, one that has been passed on since the Tea Party in Boston was targeting who to invite. These template origins, of course, are lost in time.

We often start with demographics, and the data we gather is not bad. It might be great to know that Remote Working Rachel is 35, single, a digital nomad who often works on her tablet, shops at Whole Foods, and likes to test software with a free trial before she decides to make a purchase.

However, once she’s made a decision, she tends to be a loyal customer almost to a fault.

So what’s the problem? This data can often be too narrow and even potentially stereotyping.

Worse, it can even create bias about who you think your customers are, and in turn who your marketing is overwhelmingly geared to. And it may cause you to unintentionally exclude groups of people or demographics. We’ve seen this cause issues for large companies in the public eye.

That is the heart of the issue with personas as we know them. The information about them is certainly interesting, often well researched, but doesn’t lead to actions you can take as a company to improve your marketing. Even worse, the data may suggest actions that are not a priority and won’t really improve your bottom line.

Does this mean we should not develop marketing personas at all? Not in the least.

Instead, it means we need to do better. How do we do that? By starting with a different approach.

The Data We Need to Solve Problems

Rather than starting with a template of your customer base and working from there to solve their problems, instead ask yourself, “What marketing problems do we have that could be solved with more data about our potential customer?

By starting this way, you are intentionally looking for actionable data. This might look like this:

  • Determining the problems that data about our customers can solve for our team or our clients
  • Deciding how to structure that data
  • Determining what elements of a persona are needed to assist in a solution to the problem we are trying to solve

Ask yourself about the data you’re collecting, and what impact it makes on your marketing. How important is the age of your target persona? Does it matter if they are male or female? What about income level, social media profiles, and other data? Does it matter that you target persona is imaginative, organized, and prefers easy-to-use software that is intuitive and simple to learn?

This information may be really helpful, and you should consider it. However, you should also question what problem you are really solving.

Was your company planning to make hard-to-use, less-than-intuitive software before you read this?

Does this give you a better idea of how to market your software to Remote Working Rachel?

Maybe it does, but your personas can, and should be better. So how do you take the simple steps listed above and put them into action?

The Revised Persona Process

First, what we are really talking about here is doing less, but more meaningful work when it comes to personas. It’s not that we want less data, we just want better data! How do we get started?

Determine the data you, your team, or your client needs to solve a particular problem.

Example: You are selling B2B software that helps remote workers track their time and stay on task. Your ideal target customer is a freelancer or contractor, not an employee who uses their company-provided software.

What do you need to know about this customer? Some thought-starters: Where do these customers find information about new software, and what motivates them to buy?

Your persona might be simpler than you think. If you look at your target group, you may find they do more idea discovery on Instagram, only use Facebook for personal enjoyment, not work, and trust their peers and certain key websites in their niche when it comes to software recommendations.

Going deeper, you can look at what hashtags and topics they follow, what groups they are members of, and what key influencers they admire.

You might find interesting information. For example, you will learn that 59% of freelancers are male, and that most specialize in either web or app development or SEO and content writing tasks.

This leads us to the next important question though: how do you know this data is accurate?

Document the Source and the Accuracy of the Data You Have Gathered

No one is looking for your WAG when it comes to potential customers. Untargeted or mistargeted marketing is perhaps the largest source of waste in the industry, which likely motivated your boss to commission the persona creation in the first place.

So make sure your data is accurate. Whether you gather data from census and government data, industry or academic studies, or through original research, document where and how you got it. When you narrow your focus to more meaningful data, this is especially important, because then your organization (and you) can have confidence in the information you provided. Not to mention that it is also more actionable, and in many cases less specific.

And trust me, there is a reason it likely shouldn’t be.

Be Sure Your Data is Wide-Reaching Enough to Represent the Range of Customers Contained in the Persona

The problem with Remote Worker Rachel is that some things we may discover about her not only don’t matter but might limit our marketing efforts by creating a bias or an unconscious exclusion of groups who may actually purchase your product.

Instead, a persona with a wider breadth but more meaningful detail gives you actionable target audiences, something you can use to influence your ad campaigns.

Don’t Segment Data Unless You Need To

Unless you need to market to a particular group or demographic don’t segment your persona. Do you need to market differently to female freelancers? Are your current efforts not attracting those buyers? Do you need to segment by age, or simply by platform?

The point is to only segment when the data you need to solve a particular problem dictates it.

It may be enough to know that freelancers are primarily between the ages of 24-40, have an average income of $40-60K per year, and spend $1500 a year on average on software. Knowing where and how they buy should complete the data you need.

Of course, this will vary by industry, but as a general rule, segments should only be created when the needs of that segment are different enough for you to run campaigns only aimed at that group of potential customers.

Creating the Ultimate Persona

So if the old templates are out of date, if we shouldn’t use them, what should we use? The answer is as individual as the personas you create for your company. Once you determine the data you need, you can use almost any tool to create a persona template. From Google Docs to Word, Google Sheets, or excel, you can use whatever tools you are comfortable with.

You may also find some online templates that are editable enough for you to create a format that will work for you.

Hubspot has one that some industries may find useful, and you can delete categories, create new ones, and add the attributes that matter to you.

These can also give you a baseline of data and questions to answer. Developing your own template really involves the steps we have already talked about.

  • Determine the data you need.
  • Establish a format for that data.
  • Set up a mechanism to document the source or sources of your data.
  • Gather that data and fill in your persona template.

Perhaps the biggest obstacle you will face is creating buy-in for a new method of developing a marketing persona. Entrenched in the “we’ve always done it this way” mentality, it can be hard to break your supervisor and even your peers out of that way of thinking.

However, you may be able to approach it like this: if you are using more effective and efficient methods of creating an actionable persona, and your competition is doing it the way it has always been done, you will have an edge. And that edge, once you can prove the difference it makes, is the proof you need to change the mind of the doubters.

Once you are ready to take your digital marketing to the next level, check out the Tailwind app. It’s the social media scheduler that takes your digital marketing to the next level, keeping you in touch with the persona you have so carefully developed and cultivated, even when you are away from your phone or your computer.

Get started with your FREE trial today and see what Tailwind can do for you!

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Hundreds of marketing persona templates are out there - but are they actionable? Learn the data to collect, and what you can leave out in our guide.

How to Recycle Social Media Content (Platform to Platform)

An example of repurposing a facebook story onto an Instagram Story from Tailwind

Repurposing content. It’s one of the most common things you will hear marketers talk about. But this simple statement begs a much more complex issue: how do you reuse your content on more than one social platform effectively?

Fitness blogger Cassey Ho puts it perfectly in her interview with Morning Brew:

“It’s like talking to different siblings; they just need to be talked do differently if you want a certain result.

How I’m going to talk to someone on TikTok is different than how I’m going to talk to them on Facebook.”

Cassey Ho, Founder of Blogilates

So when you think about repurposing your content on different platforms, it’s not that your content has to be absolutely different.

But your presentation and how you get your message across has to be different, according to the users on those platforms. Sound pretty simple? Let’s take a deeper look.

Know Your Audience

Before you go creating yet another set of marketing personas, stop for just a second.

Because it can be tempting at this point to start (or assign) the task of creating personas for each platform, but honestly, that won’t change a thing about how you post online.

“Marketing personas are usually a boondoggle, but they don’t have to be.”

Rand Fishkin

The question to ask yourself is not who in your audience is on what platform and create a “Francine Facebook” and “Instagram Ira” along with “Tik-Tok Tracy” and LinkedIn Larry”.

Instead, social media personas need to be actionable, and to be actionable, they need to talk about two things:

  • What group or groups does that persona include, and how do they engage most often on a specific social media platform?
  • What specific problems does that particular group have if they are unique when compared to other social media personas?

In short, you only really need the data that helps you take meaningful action. In this case, those actions are modifying your content to reach a specific audience, and also knowing what source that data came from, so it can be verified and revisited as needed.

You’re doing less work than you would creating a more robust, (but less useful persona.) The good news is you can still give them clever names like TikTok Tracy if you really want to!

Know the Platform

Pinterest = visual. Insta and TikTok = short form video. YouTube = longer-form video content, tutorials, etc. Facebook… You get the idea. Each platform has a different focus for the kind of content users respond to, and if you simply share the same content from platform to platform, it doesn’t always work.

“Instagram users are eating up Reels because I think there is a sect that is not willing to go on TikTok.

So that’s one place where I’m able to use the same content on both platforms.”

Cassey Ho

This is simply one example. Facebook and Insta stories can and do cross platforms well. Content that resonates on your Facebook business page might work on LinkedIn, but it’s more likely that your blog posts, republished as LinkedIn articles, will do better.

The point is that you don’t have to make completely new content for each platform, but you do need to tweak your content to fit the needs of each platform and consider up-cycling your content in a different format for each.

For example, you can pull points from that blog post you just featured on Facebook as a short video on Instagram or Tiktok!

You can reuse content and reduce your workload as long as you do it carefully.

Test on One Platform Before Multiplying Mediocre Content

While the advice here is that you can reuse content, don’t reuse poor or mediocre content.

Think of it this way. You and your team create what you think is a clever little TikTok dance routine. Your marketing manager films it with his iPhone 12, and ta-da! Content! You post, and while you usually get pretty good engagement, with this post you get…nothing.

Worse, you get some negative comments. Should you put that on Reels and see if it does better there? The answer is probably no. The audience for Reels and Tik Tok are similar enough you’ll likely get the same reaction.

Do you have to scrap that content idea entirely? Not at all. Perhaps your execution was poor, or you need to do something different with the idea on another platform.

Here’s the key: get as many eyes on the content as you can before you post, preferably in your target audience.

You can even run a $5 ad campaign (in some cases where this is possible on the platform) to test the waters and see what kind of engagement you get.

A lot of those Facebook anger emojis might mean this one needs to head for the bin. Don’t be afraid to test a new content idea on one platform – this gives you key learnings to help you fine-tune your approach!


Need your help! Comment your bra size + fave cuts. My brand is @popflexactive thank u for ur feedback ❤️ ##bra ##bras ##girlythings ##sportsbra ##fitness

♬ original sound – cassey

Graphics Galore

Without going in-depth into the creation of graphics, let’s just take a couple of basic guidelines and spread them across more than one platform.

More importantly, let’s look at what is different, and how one graphic can satisfy more than one need.

At this point, you should pull out your recreated and very useful personas. Then revisit what each platform is about and look at your graphic in that light.

Pay attention to color – The psychology of color is well documented. Each platform’s users may react differently.

On Insta, with the right hashtags that red and yellow hero shot might do well. On LinkedIn, the same image, with different colors, might resonate better with a more professional audience. Note we didn’t change the graphic itself, just the colors.

Pay attention to message – A small change to ad copy on the same image could make it suitable for a new audience. That pun might do well on Facebook with a slightly older audience, but a hipper cultural reference might resonate better on Instagram. A similar image with a lighter punchline might appeal to Pinterest Penny.

Size Matters. So to translate between platforms you need to a different size of banner, ad image, or video size. Nothing says, “I’m not professional and have no idea what I am doing on this platform” than the wrong sized image. A corner cropped out, text that runs off the edge of the image, all of these can take your content from hero to zero on a different social media stream. Need help? You can find Facebook image sizes, Pinterest image sizes, and Instagram image size guides on our blog!

Color, message, and size, or CMS if you will, should guide your graphics translation. Don’t do one without the other, and make sure you have time and attention to devote to these details!

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A New Guy on the Block

First there was Clubhouse. Soon after, Reddit, Facebook, Twitter, and others followed with audio-based social media. Is this because of Zoom fatigue? Whatever the reason, audio appears to be here to stay. What should you do about it?

  • Don’t just read your content into an audio void. Unless you are a novelist and the next Toni Morrison, maybe reconsider! Audio is a discussion-type venue, so focus on being social and starting a conversation!
  • Repurpose your content by asking questions and inspiring discussion. Pick and choose. Some content will translate here. Others won’t.
  • Tread carefully. Live audio is tricky. You can’t just delete comments or shut down a discussion easily. Things can get away from you quickly, so avoid controversial content and what we call “hot takes” right off the bat!

You can reuse and repurpose content for audio. It’s new, so learn as you go. Early adopters could have a real advantage here!

The Power of Evergreen Content

What about recycling? Well, there is power in evergreen content or content that is timelessly relevant. For example, this piece on Establishing Trust Through Excellent Content is still relevant because the principles of expertise, trust, and authority are still relevant and have been made even more so by the upcoming changes to Google Core Web Vitals.

This is the type of content that works on more than one platform, can be posted over and over again, and still retain relevance, and even with small updates can keep bringing you web traffic for years rather than just weeks.

But you should strive for more than just evergreen content that will work for a number of platforms. You should shoot for evergreen, cross-platform content!

Yes, you’ll have to modify images and maybe massage copy text and your message from time to time, but the topic of the content will be relevant to a variety of audiences on a number of platforms.

How do you achieve this? know your audience, know the platform, and observe CMS as you work with your content. But there is one more thing…

Know Yourself and Your Why

For each social media platform, you should have a goal. And any content you reuse should fit that goal. Understand that not every piece of content will satisfy your goal—more specifically your why for that particular platform. Recycle and reuse wisely.

Ask yourself:

  • Why are we on this platform? What do we want our followers to do?
  • Does this content align with those goals and desired actions?
  • If not, can this content be tweaked to fit those goals?

If you can’t answer one of the last two questions with a resounding “yes” then don’t force it. That is a sure way to run into trouble.

Finally, remember, you will have audiences that cross platforms. Try not to over-reuse content! You don’t want to bore them, and you certainly don’t want to make it seem like you don’t have anything unique to say.

Being able to repurpose, reuse, and recycle content definitely reduces your effort and the time you spend on content creation.

But tread carefully. Know yourself and your why and align with those goals. Use CMS and create content that is evergreen whenever you can. Finally, know your audience and the platform. Consistent, relevant messaging is key.

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Want to work smarter not harder when it comes to social media? Learn the right way to think about recycling your content on social media in our easy guide!

Facebook Ads Design Tips Every Marketer Should Know

Facebook ads are constantly evolving. The “rules” change, as does marketers capacity to target specific users, and the type of creative copy that produces not just views but clicks and conversions.

But beyond the creative copy, visuals matter. So how do you use Facebook graphics and video to support your ad copy?

The first key is to understand the purpose of Facebook visuals. They draw attention, yes, but they must draw the right kind of attention.

This attention must work with your copy to earn engagement. And to be effective, the visuals must be on-brand. Graphics must also lead to, and support your call to action.

That’s a lot of musts – so what does that all mean, and how do you create the right graphics and video content for your brand?

We’ll go through some helpful tips to get all these things right with your ad visuals on Facebook. Let’s dig in!

Tip One: Identify Your Message

Your message comes across to your audience in a couple of ways. The first is your overall brand message. The second is the specific message of your ad.

A quick scroll through Facebook reveals a few brands that get it right.

Note this ad by Huel, one with:

  • brief and focused ad copy
  • hero message with “hero” visuals
  • brand message in the copy
  • product message in the image
  • compact CTA.

Huel facebook ad

Now, there are some things they could have done differently here. For example, the price message is repeated in the copy and the photo. It could have been left out of the image for a cleaner look!

But, the most important part is that the message itself is clear: we sell food that provides complete nutrition at an affordable price.

As this is a pretty focused brand with a limited number of products, the brand message and the message of the ad itself are nearly identical, and both are presented well.

Tip Two: Harmonize Your Visual Message with Your Copy

Once you have identified both of your messages, you need to harmonize your graphics to that message.

The best graphics in the world could lead your audience in the wrong direction. For instance, let’s look at this ad for Udemy.

First, the image is small, but second, the student looks a little, well, depressed about learning.

The brand message is that you can start learning anytime. The ad message is for a discount on that learning.

example of Udemy facebook ad

The image is generic, small, and doesn’t relate to either message well. 

This illustrates that while Udemy is usually good with their Facebook ads, even large brands fail from time to time, and you can learn from their mistakes. Remember, graphics support the message, not distract from it.

Tip Three: Pay Attention to Color

Nearly every course on Facebook ad graphics includes something about color. The reason is simple: studies show that users often click on an ad because of color alone.

In fact, 92.6% say their click choices are impacted by color

The most important thing for brands to understand when it comes to overall branding and ads is the psychology of color.

Users respond emotionally to color, and those emotional responses have clearly been documented by research institutes such as

This is important when it comes to video ads as well.

Think carefully not only about your brand color palette, but the colors in the background, the scenery, and images that appear in the video even incidentally.

For example, think of the Red Bull logo and ads. What are they trying to emphasize?

Blue and red show strength and excitement, the foundation of the brand.

Facebook video ads often show athletes doing amazing things. Note the small detail in the screencap of the video below: the red wrist band the athlete is wearing contrasting with the blue of the ocean. As you watch the rest of the video here, note the frequent use of red and blue throughout.

video still of redbull facebook ad featuring an athlete in blue water with red wristband.

As a secondary note, see that the copy is a simple brand message.

Red Bull is well known as a brand, and the original “gives you wings” slogan works well, but it also harmonizes with the video as we see athletes “flying”. If you follow the brand on social media, you will see that in hero photos and video, athletes are often airborne in their various endeavors. 

This is an ideal example of graphics and video harmonizing with both the brand and the ad message, and using the psychology of color to produce a reaction in the viewer.

Tip Four: Show Users What they Can Do

Now let’s talk about a call to action. What is a call to action?

Your CTA tells users what you want them to do after viewing your ad: click here, shop now, etc.

But your graphics and video content can actually show viewers what they can do with your product.

While Red Bull may be a poor example of this (we can’t all surf or parachute from planes), a good example is this ad from MailerLite.

mailer lite facebook ad example

Note that the ad (a video) declares exactly what the product is designed to do: manage your email campaigns.

The reader knows what to do with the product, and the copy and CTA emphasize how they can get started. Remember, if you want the viewers of your ad to do something, you need to show them what to do and tell them what to do. It’s about graphics and your overall message combined.

Tip Five: Zero in On Your Hero Image

The importance of showing people using your product in the way it was intended creates recognition for your unique value proposition.

Let’s take the example of Seinhiesser and their ad for their version of earbuds.

The brand message is that of quality sound and always has been. In this case, there is also a savings offer included in the CTA.

However, the hero photo shows someone doing exactly what the product is designed for: immersing the user in sound.

It’s simple, and it includes colors that inspire friendly optimism. 

Example of Sennheiser facebook ad

The viewer of this ad can easily imagine the type of music the hero of the ad is listening to, something relaxing.

While each person might have their own idea of what relaxing music is, the unique value proposition of this headphone is illustrated clearly. 

Note that with every truly good ad, the brand message, ad message, and color all come together in one well-done package.

Tip Six: Follow the Rules

So as stated in the introduction, Facebook ad rules are always changing. For example, there used to be a text check, when too much text in a Facebook ad could cause the ad not to run. There were exceptions, where the text was part of the product itself (books and music albums, for example). 

Keeping up is a job in and of itself, but it is important to follow the rules.

That rule has since been changed (although it is still best practice to use less text in your graphics rather than more). But the political battles at the end of 2020 had ads and accounts being banned, shut down, and even the reach limited for a number of reasons.

The key is to understand that when it comes to graphics and video, playing by the rules is critical. 

If your graphic gets banned or your ad won’t run, look at why. What did Facebook say? Is there a manual review process, and is it worth pursuing? Most importantly, keep up with Facebook notices and changes. You don’t want to spend a ton of money creating an ad, only to develop something that won’t be run at all. 

Remember, to keep the potential Facebook ad ban at bay, keep your ads clean and in compliance.

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Interested in using Facebook Ads, but are unsure how to go about designing your visuals? Check out these Ad design tips (with examples!) to get you started.