In this episode, Erika Varangouli discusses using the “jobs to be done” framework to understand audience needs and create content, rather than relying on audience personas.
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What Erika Does: Head of SEO Branding at Semrush
Noteworthy: Erika is also a public speaker, regular webinar host, and awards judge.
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💡Challenges in Proper Audience Research
Erika highlights the difficulties in conducting proper audience research, sharing that it is often expensive, time-consuming, and requires specialized knowledge. She notes that small and medium businesses, which constitute a significant portion of the market, are often excluded from investing in such research.
💡Audience Personas aren’t as cool as we think
Erika expresses her disapproval of audience personas, citing them as often being entirely made up without proper research. She critiques the biases and inaccuracies associated with personas, asserting that they can lead to misguided content strategies if heavily relied upon.
💡Understanding your audience through their pain points
Erika talks about the significance of understanding audience pain points when creating content. She explains that content should address the audience’s problems, needs, or questions, providing a solution to their pain points. This approach ensures the content’s relevance and usefulness to the target audience.
💡The Jobs-to-be-Done Framework
Erika introduces the jobs-to-be-done framework as an alternative to audience personas. She explains its utility in mapping out the audience’s needs, identifying pain points, and understanding desired outcomes. She advocates for this framework, stating that it provides a granular approach to content planning.
💡Using Multiple Sources for Audience Insights
Erika suggests a comprehensive approach to gathering audience insights, including Google searches, social media analysis, forum exploration, and the use of topic research tools. She guides the audience on how to leverage each source effectively, demonstrating a practical and multi-faceted strategy for obtaining valuable insights.
Erika Varangouli 0:04
So as I said, Thank you so much for to everyone who has sent their assignments in. I have only glanced over them so far like I I, I’m just falling behind I’m sorry, like being ill for over a week, that is amazing without even being COVID. So I’m not even like at a stage to say, Okay, I went through COVID Again, so I’m not going to catch it for a while. No, it was a stupid flu or something. So I will repeat them in much more detail. And we will discuss my idea, though, is that I would like next week, I will email you separately.
To have like the first half of the class, be a couple of you maybe three, depending on how much we can talk about it. So like 10 minutes or 15 minutes, to present your initial findings to the whole of the class and then get questions. You know, answer any questions, get feedback from the class. I think this is important for everyone. Right? It is important to be able to, to get criticism for your work, answer questions about your choices. Learn to be very, very open about what you think, or how you offer transparency. When you’re presenting more more, you’re, you’re wanting to sell a strategy to someone. And I think this glass is a perfect place to do that, again, because it is like a very safe space.
I don’t want people to be nice. So I don’t want to I don’t want us to have like some, let’s say Chitra presenting her approach. And then everyone being like, this is so cool. It’s amazing. No questions. So I want us to be the harshest critics. And this is another lesson, which is not in any slide. But I want us to to become very familiar with it. When you work in content marketing, you have to have very strong stamina in terms of like the feedback and criticism you receive. Because we’re doing something that is accessible to everyone, right? You’re not writing code, you’re not a developer, you know, doing something that no one else understands.
Because people, you know, business owners or other marketing managers, they have their own knowledge about the company about the audience about what they like and content, right? There’s, there’s a lot of factors that make this very challenging. But depending on our attitude, it can become really interesting. So if we get an approach of like, very defensive, and like there’s only one right approach, this is the other thing, there’s probably not just one right approach, right? So it’s how much can you stand behind and backup, what you’re suggesting, and how good you are at prioritising and measuring. So it’s not even down to applying or doing the best idea.
It’s down to being very convincing, knowing your data and knowing what you’re standing for, and then be able to adjust based on the feedback you receive. So I’ve seen some great like content marketers not delivering great results just because of that just because of being very protective of what they want to do. And I’ve seen again, like good or Okay, marketers, maybe in a in a matter of talent, I would say even less talented marketers, doing amazingly well because of how collaborative they are, and how open to feedback we are. So So I want to the assignments for me. Yes, at the end, you will have actually practised everything we talk about.
And I really don’t want to have many slides every time I hate doing slides as well. So if I can be as lazy as not to prepare anything, I’ll be so happy. But I can’t. So I don’t want us to be spending the majority of like these 13 weeks me talking at you, I want us to actually work on the basis of what you do. And that’s why I want the assignments. So I will get in touch out I wanted to do for this lesson, but I didn’t have time. We’ll get in touch with two I think two is a maximum because maximum presentation time I want it to be five to seven minutes. And then I want to have like another seven minutes or 10 for criticism, feedback questions and everything right. So so I’ll be in touch, please.
Whoever is not contacted, it doesn’t mean you didn’t do a good job. How I will select the the two people to present. I guarantee you now will not be based on oh I think this is a brilliant thing to propose it will have nothing to do with it. It will it will be based on finding some inter We’re seeing nuggets, even for people to feedback on or to help out or have discussions that are relevant to us. Right. So whether you’re contacted or not contacted, please don’t see it as like, oh, okay, I did the best job or I did the worst job because Erica didn’t ask me to present so and we’ll have more opportunities as we go for more and more people to speak, because presenting is a big part of of what we do. Okay.
Erika Varangouli 5:26
So this week, I wanted to move on to Oh, no, before we do that, I’m sorry, I’m saying one thing one minute and then doing another, let’s bend. Let’s do our standard. Let’s do our, our standard two minutes each. So until two o’clock my time. Anytime, where you are just each one of you take two minutes to let everyone know, like how many hours you work every week, what else you’re doing with your time how much time you realistically have to allocate to this to this course.
So we all get a better idea. And I’ll make things faster. I’m just going to go and say who speaks based on how I see you on my screen. I do this with my team as well, is very random. So no one gets offended. Let me just bring up my timer. Okay, two minutes. Are Sandra, you go first?
sandra Tabansi 6:31
Sorry please can you remind me of some of the points you stated that we should?
Erika Varangouli 6:36
Yeah, how many hours you work per week, how much time you know what else you’re doing in your life that that is eating your time, how much time you have every week for this course, anything around your time and how it’s spent
sandra Tabansi 6:50 Okay, um, so apart from this course, I have two clients that I work with. And I allocate four hours each, depending on the task for the day for both, and about three to four hours to doing this course and doing the assignments, give or take every or every day or every other day. So that’s how I allocate. So it could be more than that could be less. But that’s just the ballpark of how I allocate my time. Four
Erika Varangouli 7:30
hours per client per day, per week.
sandra Tabansi 7:36
So it’s per day, but it’s not fixed. So it can be less, it can be more, but that was the initial agreement. Okay. And yeah,
Erika Varangouli 7:49
so with these two clients, you pretty much have a full time job, let’s say on average, right? It’s eight hours per day. And do you have kids? Do you do any sports? No.
sandra Tabansi 8:00
Well, yeah, so I’m single I live alone. And yeah, I . do I have hobbies? well what I read, and I go out sometimes. So
Erika Varangouli 8:14
this was also like, things that should take our
sandra Tabansi 8:19
time outside. I’m, I’m more in except maybe I’m doing community work because I am part of one or two communities. So maybe once in a month, I do community work, but nothing serious.
Erika Varangouli 8:36
Nothing serious, but still important, but thank you. All right, this this is a busy schedule. Oh, Chitra go.
Chitra Iyer 8:47
Okay, Sorry, I was on mute. Yeah, hi, um, I have about five or six clients. And I mainly do longer form content or white papers, ebooks, research, original research, and on to the actual research, but I put create a story out of the research. And then I have two columns, like twice a month, I have an article on CMS wire and rework that’s martech in HR tech. So that’s my work thing. And recently for one of my ad tech clients based out of Switzerland, I also started writing their LinkedIn content. So that’s some new challenge I took up cuz I’ve never done that before. But I’m really enjoying it. I’m learning a lot making some mistakes, but I’m learning quite a lot.
So that’s my work should do. Some days I work like 18 hours and some days I’ll work like, you know, three or four hours it just depends on how I’m pretty organised. So I you know, have days of the month and I know my columns are you go and stuff so yeah, for this course I when I’m very good at working to a deadline. So recall last week when you gave us a deadline, I got it done. I don’t know how For the moment, that deadline went away, and I had this whole other week, I lost, right.
And I said, Okay, I don’t have this sword hanging on my head. I’ve already submitted one round. So I’m gonna wait for the feedback. So yeah, that’s yeah. And then I have two boys, aged seven and nine, who I homeschool. So I try and find some time to do so I spend a couple of hours a day working with them on all sorts of, you know, stuff like experiments and writing and stuff like that. Yeah, so that’s pretty much the only other interesting thing I did recently was I did a speed reading course, just so I can read more I loved reading can be a writer without reading, right?
So I said, like, I have to make some free up some time in my life. So the speed reading course with the Jim quick super reader and I have taken my words per minute to 600 francs. I started at like 140 words per minute, two months ago, and I’m already like, between five and 600. And like, just given me back several hours in the week doing
Erika Varangouli 11:08
I think that in our life somehow. Okay. I need this. Sorry. Apologies. Okay. Oh, wow. Um, Peris, next. Peris, can you hear us?
Peris muthinja 11:33
Erika Varangouli 11:34
hello, go next.
Peris muthinja 11:38
Okay. Generally, I work with the content. I’ll call it short form, or long form depending on what the client wants. So I’m only client busy when they’ve given me the articles to write. Which like now for the month of September was dropped. So I generally located around six to eight hours per day. Okay. But in between between client work I do. I still look for more plants. I would read for fun. I have a small garden.
So I think when I feel like my getting my writer’s block, I decided to go outside and do some farming. I walk around, I go to the I live in a small village. So sometimes we have like, twice a month we have we meet with fellow women we discuss issues. Now the good thing is that my kids are in high school, both of them so and you get to see them over the holidays like now their holidays starting I think end of October. So from end of October to January it becomes kills because I think they might be old but you know, they we always trying to get out of each other’s way. So they have their money. That’s what I do.
Erika Varangouli 13:24
Okay, so how much time do you have for this course?
Peris muthinja 13:27
So for for the course. I try and make sure like I get one or two hours per day.
Erika Varangouli 13:34
Okay, amazing. All right. Thank you Peris is just right on time as well. Um, Roshni, go.
Roshni Shaikh 13:43
Hello. Hi. Yeah. So I am working with three copywriting clients, for now. And I’m creating messaging strategy, doing conversion copy for the website, and doing SEO content strategy and audits for these clients. For this client, the first one, and for another client, I’m doing user research, I’m conducting voice of customer interviews, and writing Facebook ad copy for them. This is like one of the biggest marketing brands, I’m pretty proud of it. And there’s another client for whom I’m doing landing pages from scratch.
Because they’re a new brand and I’m also putting up a messaging strategy together so that they have they’re not exactly brand wise, but you know, it’s like a little SWOT analysis and a PEST analysis to have their messaging right and they can take it forward from there. And other than that, I’m also mentoring a newcomer inside FCDC. I am helping her become a better writer. But I’m not doing the professional work. I’m busy changing diapers of my twin boys.
They are one and a half years old and prepping elaborate Indian meals for my daughter and trying to make a life here in Belgium where we still not aware of the language because there are three languages that are spoken here. French, Dutch and German. And we are only adept with English. So, yeah. And for the course, I can spend like one to two hours in a week. And if the course demands, then yes more time. You know, I can make more time. Okay.
Erika Varangouli 15:29
That sounds amazing. Wow. You’re in Brussels?
Roshni Shaikh 15:32
Yeah. Near Brussels.
Erika Varangouli 15:33
Yes. Okay. Interesting.
sandra Tabansi 15:36
Erika Varangouli 15:38
All right. First is let us know if you’re back or if you’re here. Do you want to go money? No Maneesha? Okay. Rashmi solder power. We have other pilot joining us. Okay, so they are not going to speak. Let me just oh Festus, let’s do you want to go start?
Festus Eze 16:00
Yeah, I can go now. In the early hours of the morning I live in a village. So I just walk around the house, then mess around for two, five or six. I do some work. I work with a client, I work with somebody, an SEO mentor. It’s not a paid job. So I do need to get my SEO portfolio.
So I can offer up to three hours for this course in a day, or more than that. So I have all the time to do the course. Whenever I have some things to do on the course, I can shift the project I’m doing because not a paid job. I do that on my own time. Excellent.
Erika Varangouli 16:51
Yeah, thank you festus. That sounds interesting. So you’re working on your SEO skills as well.
Festus Eze 16:58
Yeah, I’m doing I’m trying to build my SEO portfolio. So I’m working with their clients on their websites on SEO
Erika Varangouli 17:06
Amazing. Okay, excellent stuff. Um, all right. Next is Mae
Mae Josémaria O. 17:14
Hello. Hi, Erica, everyone. So I work with two clients, basically, in your freelance, but one is more ad hoc than the other. The work that I do for them is flexible to an extent. For one of them, I do a bit of strategy. Because I have to pitch and you know, do some research on the audience and everything, I have to pitch to them too. So I pitch and I write, sometimes I just write for them. And the other one is for an agency, which you know, the work is more constant and consistent.
Other than that, I also help also manage three, three writers, two interns in another writer, another Junior writer. So basically, what I do is at each review, you know, put them up to speed and make sure that everything you’re doing is in line with what the clients need. Between all these things, I just spend. So the thing is, I don’t have like a specific time that I say that a lot into this people, right, I just do it in order of priority, because of one is an ad hoc, and the other one is just comes and goes. The people like manage when they have something to digest, look at it. So I don’t have like a specific time. So sometimes I find myself walking in batches.
So I can walk from maybe 10am to three and sleep take a long walk from five to seven and walk again from walk 12 to like 5am to there isn’t a time there isn’t a fixed time was for this. This particular one, this cohort that I’m doing now, I find that I try as much as possible to a lot, probably like one or two each day. So even if I’m done doing an assignment, I find myself going back to the slides and just watching the video. So it’s not this is just what I just have this will get.
So other than that, I find that I’m also building my websites. So but because of this and because of everything I have on my table, the website has taken the backburner and this is taking the space of the website that I’m building myself from scratch. Alright, that’s about it. Thank you A,
Erika Varangouli 20:00
I can imagine it’s a bit hard, like it’s not for everyone to, to be able to, to have to work tonnes of hours one day then drop off like clients dropping off for a while. So I admire you for doing that. Like, I think I would be very bad at that also because like I have no grasp of where my time goes sometimes. So I’ve had to work really hard on like, putting myself into some sort of like programme or schedule sometimes anyway, and I work for a company, so I’m not even, you know, freelance or trying to organise my time. So, as someone who’s terrible at that, I’m telling you admire that. Okay, let’s move on to Ashleigh.
Ashleigh Ferguson 20:45
Hey, everyone, right, so, right? No, I am working as a copywriter for an email marketing agency. So I have like an arsenal of clients where I kind of coordinate their coffee strategy. And I guess it’s important to do a tonne of research, including brand voice research, and also sometimes help them to understand their brand voice because I guess if anyone’s ever done a copywriting, you know, there’s sometimes a discrepancy between what the clients think their brand voice is, what it actually is and what they want, what they can achieve. So that’s that, and also in project management.
So I’m freelancing as a copywriter, but I do work as a project officer, because I love both project management and marketing. And I don’t want to give up, I don’t think. So I do project management. And I think that eventually I’ll be able to merge them, which is actually my real goal. Actually, I am sorry, I’m babbling, but I’m actually doing my PMP what I hope to do my PMP this, by the end of this year, in addition to this course, I’m also studying for the PMP. So I will say my time management has not been the best. I have been trying to designate at least an hour and a half to the course sometimes I fall behind, but I am trying to catch up. I’ve created a study plan, so I’m gonna try my best to stick to that. So yeah, that’s me.
Erika Varangouli 22:12
That’s, that’s great. Thank you so much. And yes, project management is very important. Like I would argue it’s it’s a very big part of of working in pricing, content marketing more even, like sometimes more even than like copywriting from from what I’ve seen over the years. So thank you very much Ashley. Sorry. And Onize, do you want to go last but not least?
Onize Muhammed 22:40
Okay. Thank you Erica. First I want to confess that, I am actually one of those who haven’t submitted her assignment and I’m sorry for that. I have been ill for the past one week, I sent you a message. I don’t know if you saw it.
Erika Varangouli 22:55
I’m so sorry. Are you still Ill?
Onize Muhammed 22:57
No since Monday, I began to feel a lot better. Yeah, me too. Okay, it wasn’t for that I’d had like an ample time to dedicate to the assignments and to even go back to the videos. But then I couldn’t help myself, I couldn’t really do anything. What I do like what I spend most of my day during on a regular day is attend like I am in virtual assistant for a fractional content marketer.
So what I do majorly is like creates research keywords, creates content brief and find guest post opportunities, and sometimes even write content on the site. I am trying to build a YouTube channel. And I recently started trying to build my presence on Twitter as like a distribution channel for my YouTube videos. I’m doing that so that I can get an idea of how other content formats work. Aside from I say for that, besides all this, I don’t I just take care of myself. Which
Erika Varangouli 24:20
Yes, please do. All right. And how much time do you have for the course every week? Did you say that and I missed it.
Onize Muhammed 24:28
Yeah, can you time I dedicate for other things like it’s not really specific. Sometimes I’m free. Sometimes I have a lot of like two days free and all these like very occupied so I can’t really tell like specific time I can dedicate per day but whenever I have the opportunity like I have like streaks of solid steaks of, three days, I just dedicated to doing this course and other personal projects. Okay,
Erika Varangouli 25:01
thanks Onize and Emmanuella. I’m sorry, I missed you there because like we will meet it’s a mess. We want to go.
Peris muthinja 25:10
Erika Varangouli 25:12
Hi I’m so sorry
Peris muthinja 25:16
Um, well, I think realistically, I would have about one hour a day for the course. I do work for two clients. For one, I do editing for a b2c site. And then for the other one, it’s long form blog posts for an education software. Although the work there have scaled down a bit, so I spent the rest of the time looking looking for work. But I also, I’m doing a course I recently purchased three months course, actually. And, yeah, it’s the one that I am doing right now. And I spent a bit of time doing that.
Besides that I have three boys. The two older ones, eight and five I in school almost the whole day. But the younger one who is two is at home. And that means that some days I predict unpredictable. Like, like yesterday, I spent about three hours in the hospital that I didn’t expect, because he’s not well. So some. Sometimes it happens for the three of them. So I spent Yeah, but I, you know, I try to make up for it later on in the day. And that means that some activities I have to put on hold, like if I want to take a walk that evening, I may I may not take a walk that evening, I may have to do it the next day.
Erika Varangouli 27:06
out of the window, the walk that day, I get into Manuel. Oh, I hope he gets better. feels better soon. Okay, okay, good. So, all right. And very quickly for me, just so it’s all fair. No one gets away from or shying away from doing it. So I spend way more hours on issued. Oh, working on SEMrush, maybe I would say an average, probably per day would be anything between nine and 11 hours, probably. That’s a good estimate. And I have a three year old that I take her to the nursery and get her bag. And then I am very, very committed to spending time with her. Because she comes back in the evening. So between that and going to bed, it’s like two, three hours that I’m spending with her.
And what else what else? So I’m dedicating time to this course. So generally I’m not good with side hustles I’m not very good at the discipline that it requires. So I don’t have a side hustle or a side project every year or every quarter. But this one when I spoke with my with with Chima, I was I was super excited. So I’d say probably this is taking maybe 10 hours a week, maybe a bit more, a bit less depends on might take me more sometimes it might take me a bit less a few weeks, or a couple of weeks. And other than that I am trying to start swimming. Because like I work from home, I am at home like most of my time. And I feel like I’m beginning to be very rusty. So I have picked up swimming.
One of the lessons every week I go with the family this is my daughter. So I’m spending like two three hours swimming per week and then random weekends that I really don’t plan much because a I’m terrible at like, I hate having a programming schedule. My mom has been telling me that since I was a kid. And we because I need a bit of chaos and like unstructured time in my life. So I get a few hours of like, not really doing anything productive necessarily.
Sometimes I may read a book sometimes I may watch the same Disney film with my family for the 100th time or go for a walk with my husband and a family so that’s me and yeah, I do have a bit of like a span about like 10 hours I would say on average for for this course. So thank you very much. I felt that was very cool. And it gave me an idea from now on please on assignments. So, right at the top, how many hours it took you to delivery, right? Again, do not put more or fewer hours, it’s not about anyone judging Oh, it took so long or you didn’t spend a lot of time. This is mainly for you, not just to assess how much time you’re allocating to this course.
But to gradually get into the habit of always, especially if you’re freelancing, billing for your time, and estimating better and better how much time tasks and assignments take you. Okay, so I heard of, he’s saying all, they come and go, that is okay. But also saying, like, oh, I may spend a lot of hours I may not spend a lot, I’m learning, I’m learning how to do this. Now, something new. So always, always, always keep track of how long things take you. I’m saying that to hear it myself as well, because I’m not very good at doing it all the time.
However, we’re constantly asked to deliver estimations, estimations of deadlines that we’re going to deliver work in estimations of how much we should charge for something which is based also on how much time we may be spending on something. And we have our lives. So when those estimations are off for work, what usually happens is they take a toll on our personal life live from our you know, time from our families, or something we like to do, and causing a lot of stress. So please, from now on, for every assignment that you deliver right at the top, like to commit that much time and track your time you can do on a spreadsheet you can do there are like some free, even Chrome extensions that you can click when you’re working on a task.
And you can pause when you’re not working on it. One is called toggle, I’m going to send it to you afterwards on Slack that I know often I’ve used in the past. But please, let’s start looking at it this way as well. So we all get a better idea of like, okay, Anisa took an hour this week to deliver this assignment. And this is what turned up. So let’s, let’s move on quickly, because I also have a hard stop today. So today’s presentation should not be as Okay, let me find it. Where on earth is it? Okay, it’s here. So it shouldn’t be as heavy as previous weeks. Because I feel that within this course. I don’t want to go into the theory, I want us to be very, very practical. You’re all experience. You’re all working.
You’re not like students in a university. First time hearing about stuff, right? So I’m always assuming as well, there’s a level of understanding on on very real world situation. So this for me has been one of the hardest ones to prepare, because we’re going to talk about audience research, right. And you can see I didn’t call it audience research, I called it your audience. And when you start, they’re kind of faceless. They’re they’re kind of like, Who is this person? Are they real? And I want to start with what we’re not going to talk about today. Right? We are not going to talk about proper, I should have put like brackets I will put before I upload proper audience research because it is expensive.
So bearing in mind that like 9599, depending on market and country or industry of businesses are small and medium businesses, right? In my experience, they rarely pay to get it done properly, properly means, you know, customer surveys, heat mapping on the website to map user journeys, there’s a lot of things I can I will share in the notes of the presentation, like where you can go to find the more theoretical audience research, right? But and even if they do, even if they decide to launch, like customer surveys, right? My experience is also that they’re rarely have the knowledge to identify whether it’s done properly if the assignment to let’s say, different agency to do, or to do it properly themselves.
Because audience research, let’s say based on questionnaires requires a very good understanding of how to build a questionnaire to get the insights you want, how to get rid of the biases in those questionnaires. So I’ve seen it many times people saying oh, we build this audience personas, we we did all this massive survey, whereas with our audience, and then even starting with the audience selection criteria and the questionnaire, you can tell that it’s it’s not like a proper audience research because of many factors. I will say though, if you do have access to this kind of data, by all means, take it, ask for it, right. So in this scenario, we Are you know, we’re working with Claude, all of us now.
And we’re building the strategy. Claude does not have audience data like I cannot give you proper audience research data for each brand that you have been assigned. In real world, when you go to a client, of course, ask for for audience insights that they may have asked how they have built it. And that is not necessarily to criticise it, but it’s for you to know how much you can rely on it ask how recent This is, maybe they did it like five years ago, when they launched the business, I’ve never done it since I’ll tell you now this is probably entirely out of date by this point. So in my experience, it’s very expensive to do or time consuming, or it requires human resources that know what they’re doing.
Small and Medium Businesses are kind of excluded from that. And very rarely, I’ve seen a client being convinced to spend the budget or the time to do it properly. Right? Not that you shouldn’t discuss it. But it’s not something I would that’s not a heel I would die on. As I like to say sometimes. The other thing we’re not going to talk about today is audience personas, because I personally hate them. And I don’t think they’re as cool as we all think I was we’re all made to believe. And disclaimer, I’m using audience personas where I work now at sem rush, but I’m using them with with extreme caution.
And not for everything. I’m doing content marketing, right. So there were built by relevant team. And they can be useful to a degree for some types of content. But this is not what informs for example, my work most of the time. The reason I don’t like audience personas, the main reasons are here, they’re often entirely made up without proper research behind them. So it’s like a social media manager somewhere a business owner, who knows the industry, he knows the product, maybe she knows the product.
Erika Varangouli 37:05
They have spoken with clients. So that is anecdotal evidence, right. And then all of a sudden, you end up with like three audience personas, visibility, and visibility is like 99% made up. And often what this means is that they carry the creator’s bias, even in the name right, Betty, Betty in a culture like us, it’s kind of like an old person’s names, the age the Assign what Betty spends her time on. They’re all kind of made up factors. However, the impact of this is that if you base your content marketing strategy on those personas, and kind of like what their interests are, what they want to read what they what they are stressing about, you may create strategies that are entirely off the mark.
Right? It’s, I call it like three year olds roleplay. So everyone can make up a persona, potentially, we can approximate some of the pain points because we know the product, we know the market, theoretically we’re speaking with clients, the sales team may be speaking with clients. But to put that into, like very solid personas require much more than that. So my problem is not with creating audience personas when you have the right data and research. My problem is that nine out of 10 times when I’ve seen audience personas, you can spot like the biases, you can spot the made up information, and the danger of them just using them to gear all your campaigns around.
So we’re not going to talk about audience personas either. I’m sorry, if this is disappointing, let me know if you want to learn more about building audience personas. And we can see if we can fit it into this class. What we are going to talk about in this session is something that I think each one of us can do, whether we have audience research data from a client, whether we have access to expensive tools, it doesn’t matter. These are all things that are based on data and and objective, let’s say facts, right? And this is understanding your audience through their pain points. When you’re creating content, you’re tapping into someone’s pain point, right?
You’re you’re trying to and by pain point, I don’t mean they’re actually in pain or in problem, they have a problem but they’re trying to learn something, they’re trying to find out how to do something. They’re trying to find the best product about something. So these are all pinpoints and this is what content comes into to feel. So it can get 12 main audience insights from Google from social media, from forums and from topic research tools, right, with utilising all four of them for brand queries, non brand queries and competitor queries. So if you combine all of them, you end up with 12 distinct kind of inside groups, you can collect for any brand or company. And this is how it goes.
So from Google, for example, you can start with very simple searches, you have your brand, right. And in the first stages of your research, you will look into the brand what it sells, you came up with like three, four core keywords that are relevant to them. So you take your brand curries, and you can go to Google, and you just start typing right? Let’s say SEMrush. Have you screenshots of an example. So if I put in SEMrush auto suggests already gives me ideas, I did this in incognito mode as well. Just so it’s not so informed from from what I’ve been searching lately for sem rush. And you can see what kind of things people search for.
So I can see like, they’re looking for a keyword gap for blog SEO, competitor analysis for sem rush Academy for sem rush free, so you know, free access, all of them are top level topics that people go to Google to search for. I can also do that for oh, sorry. When you do that, don’t just keep not a vote of suggest, but you will usually get like people also ask questions underneath, right? So when a search for Google, for some rush, like one or two results down the page, Google suggested more questions that people asked like, why is summer so expensive? To like that one? How can I get access to SEMrush? And there were a few more. And then the good thing with people also ask is that they are infinite.
Scrolling means like, if you click on one, it will suggest more and if you click on it, and will suggest more. So you can discover a lot more questions around any term by using that people also asked feature on the SERPs. Now with non branded queries, you should have tonnes of these from the first and second phase of your research, right? Remember, you’ve already done your market analysis, your landscape analysis. And you also have done your competitor analysis. So you have, hopefully by now plot a few keywords or queries that are relevant. So again, go on Google and Google them and see what kind of things people ask all the time, I would pick the top ones because like, if you do that, for hundreds of terms, many leads like probably days on your life.
I’m not suggesting that but it’s to get an idea. Remember, we’re we’re trying to understand our audience, we’re not trying to do at this point, extensive keyword research, or it could all save kind of content topic analysis, none of that is to give us an idea of what are the core points. And we’re going to combine what we find here with what we do next. And then also your competitor brands, right, you now know your competitors do the same thing with their brand on Google, right? So repeat this and then do the same process for social media and forums, right?
Especially if you’re given access to social media, as the client, or the company you work for, then go on to their account, log into their account, see what direct messages they get, see what kind of interactions they get under their posts. But even if you don’t, you can go on the social media platforms and sort of start searching with your clients name, their competitors, or the main kind of offering they have so if I go on, I don’t know LinkedIn and search for keyword research or hash. I don’t know if hashtags work every well as well but search for those terms and then go on forums right you see Reddit here for example, if I search for SEMrush I’m already faced with with threads about relevant to SEMrush right? It’s not a thread by SEMrush it’s it’s conversations happening with SEMrush at the centre, same on Quora. And same for like if I search for keyword research, let’s say one of my topics because one of my main offerings is keyword research.
I’m going to read it I go to Cora and I search for this and I come up with all the conversations the questions and answers that people give for this topic. And last you have topic research tool so these are these are a bit different to to typical keyword research because they they go a bit more top level about topics that then you need to break down even more for your content. But I’ve put the links in the slide as well. So like if you know answer the public and also asked also asked us to be free like when I tested for for this lesson, I realised that it’s no longer free.
It’s not expensive at all. And sort of the public gives you some free searches, I think per day and then you have to pay to use it. But what they do To when you put your term that can be your brand that can be your keyword research in this example, they give you kind of like an overview of what people are asking about this topic or this brand. I don’t want to say clustered because this is overused, but like in, in, in Topic bubbles, so more relevant things that are connected through like the, the intent or kind of like the connecting word, those come up on answer the public, and you can see all of those queries. And and also as what it does is a brilliant tool that Mark made Mark Williams cook. He’s an amazing marketer.
So what it does is it gives you access, so you can export all the people also ask questions from the tool and sort of see them all at once. Because when you’re on Google SERPs, you just see three, four of them, then you click on you get the other ones on also as you get them as a tree map, so you can see the depth of a topic and what questions are relevant to it. And then also, like you have keyword research tools like SEMrush, right? Where you can, well, maybe this screenshot is a bit small.
But when you use, for example, keyword magic tool, for any term, you can filter by questions. So you can only choose to see what questions people are asking about that keyword. And you can also export that SEMrush also has a topic research tool. The reason I didn’t include it here is because I don’t know whether you have access to it or not with a level of subscription, and we’ve given you. So let me know, after the class if if you have access to topic research, this is also like working in a similar way to answer the public, right. So you can also get insights not just from Google, but from other platforms, on topics on trending topics, and relevant topics about any query. But I think our pricing moved it differently. So yeah, let me know.
Erika Varangouli 47:02
So by doing all of this, what I’m really leading to, and I want you if you’re spending time, like reading and studying for this course, and if you’re not already familiar with it, this is a framework, I use much more for creating content and designing my campaigns versus the audience persona one audience personas, front end jobs to be done. By the way, they’re not mutually exclusive. Right? It doesn’t mean that you either do one or the other. They can work in combination.
But because many times like my experience is that you have really no good data on your audience, you may have audience personas, because it’s very easy for everyone to create them nowadays. It doesn’t mean they’re right. So I prefer to use jobs to be done, which is helping me like map out a whole process in terms of what pain points I’m going to solve, and then guide me as to how I’m going to show them. So here, this is something that Clayton Christensen had said he was he was one of the pioneers in like how businesses works on a Harvard professor 80s and 90s. So he had said that people buy products and services to get a job done.
Right, here’s another guy behind jobs to be done as far as I know. But this is exactly a like people buy something because they want to get a job done. And that job, again, don’t make the mistake of thinking, Oh, it’s only a practical task, jobs to be done or not about tasks. They are about solving a problem answering a need. And they go beyond just the practical. They’re also like sentimental values. They’re right. So why people lie more added as shoes than they need.
The job to be done is also widely sentimental is to fulfil a psychological need of feeling cool. I don’t know, maybe. So what I wanted to suggest here is I’ve included some essential reading. There’s way more out there. Like I didn’t include any books you need to buy in order to get access to it or anything. There are some like three, four or five articles that you can read to get a better idea of how this framework works. And if you like it, then let me know.
And we can like I can pass some examples or templates I can I can sort of dig through because I’m doing it more from experience. I’m not really good at templating. But you will discover I think a lot of useful information jobs to be done is a framework to help you understand and address your audience needs effectively. And it’s very useful. It’s been used widely like in development and engineering teams when they’re creating new products, let’s say in SAAS, for example. So it’s not just a marketing framework. It’s a framework that can be used across different disciplines in business. And it’s three main elements, just top level view now is, you know, who are your customers?
But it’s, it’s sort of ended up identifying three main types of customers you may have. And those are based on, you know, it’s the person who will be using the product or service, it’s the person who, who will be making the financial decision to buy it or not, maybe sometimes they’re the same person, other times they’re not. And then it’s the person who may need to maintain that solution, right? Who who needs to, to work on building it further, or if it’s like software, into the person who will be responsible for incorporating into the systems. These are not like set in stone, by the way, the three types, but it’s a guidance, if you ask me like, Okay, but how can I know the pain points if I don’t know anything about my customers?
Like you start with some ready made assumptions in a way? The other two things it does, it identifies the types of jobs, each one of those customers is is trying to get done? And what is the desired outcome. And as soon as you map those three things, you aren’t on a good track to sort of start thinking about what kind of content will help them get this job done, and get to their desired outcome, right it for me, it works. Because it it puts me into a very granular state of planning is like, Okay, this is what they want to do.
This is why they want to do it, this is what the ideal outcome looks like, right? And that for me, works really well. And it’s over to you like, so for next week. I hope this is a much smaller assignment of the previous one. Not next week, before our lessons, I put it next Friday, so October 13, just to spook us off a bit. I just want a document plot just needs something that tells him what are the top five pain points his audience has, that you will be addressing with your content marketing strategy, I would ask you to provide some explanations around how you came up with it. Right? You can use any approach you have been using any way or you can use information from this lesson, anything you want.
But please back it up like this is what we were discussing at the start is is backup your suggestions with why you’re suggesting them right. And then you know which product I would like to see this is the pain point. This is why the why can be because I found like tonnes of questions about this on on Reddit, that can be a backup why? And then which product or service that Claude is offering would be a good fit. So that is to ensure that there’s a I don’t want to use the term because it’s not this exactly, but it’s like a good market fit. Right. So he has a right. This is also part of you backing up what you’re suggesting Claude has a solution to address a pain point.
This is the pain point. This is how we know. And and look, he already has a solution to address this point in which we need to make much more understood through content. So this is it. Remember, the usual rules? I will not repeat them. And let’s get going. Hopefully, you’re not all asleep. Okay. Chitra is not asleep. We don’t have much time. Like I could probably give a couple of minutes. I’m sorry. Today’s a bit mental with meetings. Do you have any kind of like urgent questions, we can pick it up on Slack? I can answer questions on slack as well. But is there anything after the lesson today that you want to ask?
Chitra Iyer 53:58
Slack is good.
Erika Varangouli 53:59
Yeah. Okay. All right. That’s amazing. All right. Yes, please do. I love hearing questions from you. I just that is one way I have to know if you have bored you all to death or not. But let me know. message me on Slack. I’ll upload the slides and everything.
If anything is missing, let me know in Slack as well. Okay. Perfect. Well, thank you so much. You’re amazing. I’ll be in touch as well for next week’s presentation. Thank you
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