I have written thousands of words for websites over the years. It can be frustrating to start with a blank screen, try out some sentences and then erase them. Often, a primary reason for the struggle is that writers are attempting to address an amorphous audience, like an auditorium of faceless people, rather than specific personas.

Personas are composites of people who buy your products or services. It’s much easier to write when you have these in mind. Persona development can get complicated if you work for a large company like 3M. But it is quite doable if you run a small business and have a history with customers.

Going through a persona development process creates an opportunity for an internal team to

• Take a good look at who the best customers are.
• Examine what they’re buying from you.
• Seek out specific data about customers.
• Write out answers to specific questions they ask.

Here’s the start of one persona that a client and I developed:

Bob is 48 and owns a trucking company based in suburb X, Minnesota. He is the classic, “Jack of all trades,” business owner. He had worked in all facets of the business since he was 16 when his dad founded the company. He’s a modern thinker looking to make his new warehouse and operations “green.”

When we wrote the new website copy, we addressed Bob’s questions. We’re not making up what we think Bob needs. We’re not pulling it out of thin air. The copy is  based on actual buyers’ needs and questions.

The website copy was 10 times easier to write because we stopped guessing about what that amorphous audience needs to know. We’ve got Bob and a few other personas we’re writing for. We’ll revisit these personas soon to see if they’re still relevant.

Persona writing is a useful exercise.  Often, we end up talking about the business plan and we discover where team members are not aligned or clear.