Here's the big shocker: If you don't think about strategy before you dive into Pinterest marketing, your pinning efforts are very likely to be a giant waste of time.
The ﬁrst thing you need to do--even before you create your boards and pins--is to deﬁne your company's Pinterest strategy in order to determine which individuals you are trying to reach with your marketing efforts. And the more you know, the better your chances of being able to truly connect with those people.
Deﬁning Your Ideal Client
One of the best ways to create detailed, useful buyer persona proﬁles is to connect directly at the source; that is, to interview people. If you have direct access to some of your favorite clients, ask if you can talk to them on the phone for a few minutes.
You want to know as much as possible about each group of people, so ask as many questions as you can. How old are they? Do they have children? What speciﬁc problems do they wake up in the morning thinking about? What words do they use in describing themselves and the issues they are facing? What do they do for fun? What websites and social media tools do they use? What brings them joy?
Use the answers you gather to create a detailed proﬁle on each type of client you are trying to attract to your business.
Write the description of the proﬁle down, add a photo, and hang it in a prominent place in your ofﬁce as a reminder to everyone on your staff. You can even give each proﬁle a nickname that helps you remember their preferences or distinctive traits, like "Sally the Bride-to-Be" or "John the Coach."
Oreck (@oreck ), maker of vacuum cleaners, air puriﬁers, and other small appliances, focuses on women as their ideal clients. Oreck marketers could potentially create a detailed ideal-client proﬁle called "Suzy Homemaker," and ﬁll it in with details about where Suzy lives, whether she has kids or pets, and what her hobbies are. The U.S. Army (@usarmy ) might have a few different proﬁles, including the young men and women they are looking to recruit, and members of the general public who are looking to support our troops.
This exercise may seem silly to you, but don't underestimate its importance. The more you know about the customers you're trying to reach on Pinterest, the more successful you'll be in connecting with them via your marketing efforts.
What Does Your Ideal Client Want?
Now that you've deﬁned your ideal client and found out as much about him or her as you can, you have a much clearer position from which to start when you set up your Pinterest account.
Your pins and boards will be much more appealing to your target audience if you focus on your ideal client while you're pinning. Think about these various buyer personas when you're deciding whether or not to pin an image or video. Ask yourself, "Would my ideal client ﬁnd this useful, educational, entertaining, or inspiring?" If the answer is yes, pin away! If not, keep looking for something that does ﬁt into one of these categories.
The brand Pretzel Crisps (@PretzelCrisps ) does a beautiful job of speaking to their ideal clients with their Pinterest boards. This smart snack company not only uses their pins to supply great ways to use their product (appetizers, dips, etc.), but, they have also loaded up their boards with other images and ideas that their followers and fans love. They even have a board called "Genius," which is ﬁlled with smart and clever ideas for homes and ofﬁces. Their content is appealing to the customers they're trying to reach because Pretzel Crisps knows exactly who they are looking to connect with.
When customers know that you've taken the time to ﬁgure out precisely what they want, they'll keep coming back for more.
Becoming a Source of Valuable Information
The pinners behind Chobani yogurt's Pinterest boards are smart cookies . The brand knows that merely pinning images from their own site isn't the best use of their Pinterest presence. So instead, they create insightful boards and pins that they know their ideal clients will love.
Chobani (@chobani ) maintains several different boards that feature a variety of recipes from many different websites and blogs. And while many of the recipes include yogurt as one of the ingredients, not all of them do. The yogurt company knows that their target audience (women, who do most of the grocery shopping) are always on the lookout for delicious and simple recipes to feed their hungry hoards at home. So instead of just pinning links from the Chobani website, they're in the business of solving problems for their followers. Chobani also gets the opportunity to educate the public about their products, but that isn't the main reason the yogurt company pins recipes.
In short, Chobani shares information and solves problems, without overtly selling.
Here's an important news ﬂash: No one actually cares about your products and services in and of themselves. People want to solve their problems, and that's what they need or want your products and services for. Pinterest gives you the incredible opportunity to become a valued source of information to the folks you're trying to reach. And if you view yourself as a source of information and ideas, rather than someone hawking your wares, you will be far more successful on Pinterest than if you focus only on promoting and pinning your own products and services.
Sharing great content is always welcome on social media sites, including Pinterest. Over-promotion and narcissism are not.
As you practice pinning for your ideal client and expressing your brand's personality through Pinterest's tools, your instincts about what kind of content to publish will get better and better, and your following will grow. And when you know how your Pinterest efforts ﬁt in with the rest of your online marketing strategy, the various sites where you have a social media presence will work together like a ﬁnely tuned machine.
Your Action Plan
- Create your ideal client proﬁle(s).
- Brainstorm the needs and wants of your ideal client(s).
- Make a list of ways that you can solve or share on
- Pinterest, to help out your ideal client.
- Regularly remind yourself that social media is a means to an end--not an end in and of itself.
Excerpted with permission of the publisher John Wiley & Sons, Inc. from Pinfluence: The Complete Guide to Marketing Your Business with Pinterest  by Beth Hayden. Copyright (c) 2012 by Beth Hayden. This book is available at all bookstores and online booksellers.
[Image: Flickr user Tambako the Jaguar ]