Why You Need A Persona-Based Content Marketing Strategy
Each member of a buying team has different challenges and interests. Columnist Arnie Kuenn tells you how to home in on those needs to help close a deal.
You’ve heard it before: To be successful with content marketing, your content must be catered to the customer. More specifically, content should speak to customer pain points and challenges throughout the buyer’s journey.
However, to create content that is truly targeted, you need to understand exactly who your buyers are and what their journey looks like.
Enter persona-based content marketing: creating and promoting content with a specific buyer persona in mind.
Defining And Developing Buyer Personas
Buyer personas are representations of your actual customers — taking into account who they are, what they are trying to accomplish, what their goals are, and how they behave throughout the buying cycle.
Buyer personas are typically based on both independent and market research, combining insights from your actual customers (gleaned through surveys and interviews) with trends seen in the overall market. Depending on your industry and business model, you could have anywhere from two personas to upwards of 20.
- Interviewing or surveying current customers to understand their buying process and how they came about purchasing your product or service.
- Considering content consumption, or how certain customers consume and engage with your content.
- Utilizing aggregated demographic information from lead forms and any insight captured from interactive content like quizzes and calculators.
- Conferring with the sales team about prospects, the sales cycle and customer generalizations.
- Taking market research like current statistics and trends into consideration.
Personas should include a full portrait of your ideal buyer — including information like:
- Demographic/background information:
- Job title, career, roles and responsibilities
- Family/life outside work, household income
- Company size, location and industry
- Behavioral information:
- What keeps them up at night
- Pain points and challenges
- Role in purchasing
- Content consumption
Consider The Buying Team
Depending on the product or service you sell, you may have to sell to one buyer or an entire buying team. In the case of most e-commerce businesses, the sale will be direct to one consumer (one persona). However, in many B2B sales, a whole team of buyers, all with different personas, have a part in the decision-making process.
If you’re selling to a buying team, persona-based content marketing is crucial. Each member of the buying team likely has a different title or job function and a certain role in purchasing.
Additionally, the bigger the investment, usually the bigger the buying team — making it even more important for businesses selling big-ticket products or services to create and promote content based on buyer personas.
Take an Internet marketing agency as an example: There will likely be a whole team of individuals involved in the buying process. Consider the following members of the buying team, as well as their challenges and pain points and what type of content each may be interested in:
- VP of Marketing – Interested in understanding how the agency can fulfill his or her company’s needs (higher search engine rankings, content creation and promotion, paid search) and examples of success. Typically the overall decision maker.
- Relevant content includes: Web copy (explaining products/services) case studies, interviews with customers and thought-leadership pieces.
- CFO/Controller – Mainly concerned with the pricing model (retainer or service-based payments?), total investment and potential ROI. Usually has a definitive role in the decision-making process.
- Relevant content includes: price sheets and case studies with ROI metrics.
- Individual Contributors/Marketers – Must feel comfortable working with the agency on a day-to-day basis and understand the level of expertise the agency can bring. Often influences the decision-making process.
- Relevant content includes: blog posts that showcase subject matter expertise, company interviews/videos and examples of past work.
Because each member of the buying team has different priorities and preferences, creating content that speaks to each buyer persona is essential in influencing the right people and closing the deal.
Mapping Content To The Buyer’s Journey
In addition to creating content that relates to each buyer persona’s pain points, your content should also map back to a stage in the buyer’s journey. Though buyers will fluctuate between stages — the buying cycle is often nonlinear — the following are generally the three stages each buyer goes through before making a purchase decision:
- Awareness: The buyer knows he or she has a problem that needs to be solved and searches for content that confirms that need and your business’ ability to fix it. Awareness-stage content also typically includes thought-leadership and third-party content that aligns a brand’s message with experts in the industry, though is often vendor neutral.
- Consideration: In the consideration stage, the buyer is researching solutions and is looking for content that speaks directly to specific pain points. In this stage, buyer personas are essential, as each persona experiences different challenges that must be addressed through vendor-published content.
- Decision: At this stage, the buyer is ready to make a purchase decision — a pivotal point in the buying cycle. Decision-stage content often features differentiating information, demos, trials, tools and comparison pieces, as well as content pertaining to the next steps once the purchase has been made.
Persona-based content marketing is becoming increasingly necessary to achieve success. Creating persona-targeted content that is well-aligned to each stage of the buying cycle offers buyers a better content consumption and overall buying experience.
Without a persona-based content marketing initiative, you run the risk of letting your competitors influence buyers by speaking to their needs and addressing uncertainties through targeted content, increasing purchase consideration along the way.
Though researching and developing personas can be a daunting task, start small and work your way to a full-blown persona-based content marketing strategy to move prospects through the sales cycle and close more business.