By now most people have heard about the controversy surrounding Jared Leto’s extensive method acting while on the set of Suicide Squad, gifting cast members with items like live rats and dead pigs.  I think we can all agree that the guy took things way too far… that being said, there is something to say about his dedication to the character and role. He used method acting techniques to not just play his part—but live it.

Why am I bringing this up? Recently, I have read a lot of blogs focused on how to reach buyer personas through content. A step-by-step list in one of these posts might look something like this:

Step 1: Define your target demographics
Step 2: What does a day in your buyer’s life look like?
Step 3: What are your buyer’s problems or challenges?
Step 4: What are your buyer’s goals, problems, and challenges?
Step 5: Where do your buyer’s hang out? At least online.

These blog posts are incredibly valuable (in fact, we have created a few like them), but like so many pieces of content out there, they tell you how to do something without actually…well telling you how to do it.  Finding out your buyers goals is an important step to take, but discovering those goals doesn’t mean anything if you don’t understand why they are there in the first place.

Here is where we can all learn a lesson from Jared Leto. Marketing has always and will always be about connecting  with your potential customers; discovering how and why they buy the things they buy. But information is nothing if you don’t know how to apply it. Once you know everything there is to know about your buyers, you need to do one final thing: get into character. Like an actor, you need to take everything you know about your buyer persona and attach an empathetic understanding to it.

Example Time

Let’s say you are the marketing director for a college. Your average buyer is a high school senior and a concern they have is paying for college. You might think, well with that challenge in mind,  I will create easily digestible content centered around our financial aid and scholarship opportunities. Maybe a blog post highlighting your opportunities, or a content offer taking students through the steps of applying for financial aid. These are good thoughts, and you will probably create some quality content by addressing this concern. However, if you want to create content that blows your buyers away, you need to go past the simple problem; you need to ask why the problem is there, how the problem makes your buyer feel, and if there are any unique solutions you can offer beyond the norm. So let’s step into our buyer’s shoes.

You are a high school senior trying to find your way. Your parents have always been able to provide for you and your siblings, but after your older sister going through college, there isn’t much money left for you. They have agreed to sign off on any loans you will need, but paying off the debt will be your responsibility, along with any cash you may want for new clothes, going out with friends, gas money, and any food outside of your meal plan. You are wondering how you are going to pay for college and if college is really even worth the money.

I know that is a lot to digest, but think about what you might write now that you have had a minute to explore this buyer on a more personal level. How would this little breakdown of a high school senior change the way you (as the marketing director for a college) would want to leverage your financial aid and scholarship content? What new ideas come to mind now that you have a story to attach to your buyer?  In addition to a blog post highlighting your financial aid plan, you might create one that points students to great scholarship resources or gives students some ideas about how to make extra money while going to school.

A Method to the Madness

Jared Leto may be crazy (and let’s face it, his performance was a pretty big let down) but there is some value to his technique. Instead of just checking boxes for your buyers, try method marketing. Go past discovering your buyer’s questions, discover why the questions are there. Don’t just give solutions, give solutions that solve problems your buyer doesn’t know they have. Get into character and you won’t just find out how your buyer thinks, you’ll find out how to think like your buyer.