Buyer personas: mission critical in your content marketing strategy
The world is awash with content.
In fact, the numbers are staggering. According to an infographic published on Mashable, every minute of the day:
- 48 hours of new video are uploaded to YouTube
- Wordpress users publish 347 new blog posts
- Tumblr blog owners publish 27,778 new posts
- Twitter users send over 100,000 tweets
- 571 new websites are created every minute
If you're a content marketer, how do you ensure your content stands out in this ever expanding sea?
There are three important steps:
- Create buyer personas
- Understand the sales cycle
- Develop a content road map
In this post I'm going to cover buyer personas. I'll be back Wednesday to cover the sales cycle and on Friday to talk about the content marketing road map.
What are buyer personas?
Buyer personas are fictional representations of your ideal customers. They're based on real data and a lot of educated speculation. Typically, they include demographic information, as well as buyer concerns and motivations.
Why are buyer personas important?
Many marketers mistake themselves as the ideal customer for their products or services. As a result they often create marketing campaigns that appeal only to them, rather than the people who actually buy from them. Personas help marketers understand their customers and relate to their problems and concerns.
In short, if you understand your personas your marketing efforts will be more effective.
Piper Paralegal Services
In order to better explain buyer personas, consider a fictional company called Piper Paralegal Services. They help small businesses collect outstanding accounts and assist them with small claims court when customers don't pay. Their customers include small business owners, book keepers and accountants.
Let's take a look at Piper Paralegal's three target customers more closely.
Frank, the small business owner:
Frank is a contractor who's busy renovating kitchens and bathrooms for his customers. He's got a good reputation and does excellent work. Most of the time, Frank's customers pay him on time. But when someone doesn't pay, the situation becomes emotional for Frank. Not only is it emotional, it's money right out of Frank's pocket.
Bottom line: Frank needs a paralegal he can trust.
Mary, the book keeper:
Mary is busy freelancing for a number of different clients. She's got a lot of responsibilities including payables, receivables, issuing T4s, tracking source deductions and encouraging slow-paying customers to pay more quickly.
But if one of her clients is having a hard time collecting an invoice, Mary doesn't have the expertise to handle a proceeding in small claims court. She's not the decision maker when it comes to hiring a paralegal, but she is an influencer.
Bottom line: Mary needs a paralegal who makes her look good with her clients.
Bill, the accountant:
Bill is busy running an accounting department at a small to medium sized business. If a customer isn't paying, he'll have someone else in his department research solutions, but he makes the final decision.
Bottom line: Bill only cares about the bottom line.
How to create buyer personas
Now that we've identified Piper Paralegal's three target customers, how do they create buyer personas?
The next step is to break their target customers into relevant segments by profile and life cycle stage (more about the latter on Wednesday).
For example, Piper Paralegal has already identified important traits for Mary (the bookkeeper) and Bill (the accountant). Mary wants to look good in front of her clients. Bill is focused on his company's bottom line.
Piper Paralegal can also segment their customers by:
- Company size
- Market or industry
- Geographic location
- Product or service
- Decision-maker status
Once Piper Paralegal has segmented their audience, it's time to drill down and understand more about each segment:
- What are their pain points?
- Is there a type of content they prefer?
- Who do they listen to for input on the decision?
Visualize your buyer personas
It's very important to give each persona a picture. The picture helps other people in your organization visualize your customers. It also helps them avoid creating marketing campaigns that don't resonate with your customers.
Where do you get information for customer personas?
I like to start with the things I know about each persona. But you should also get input from your sales force and others in your organization who deal with customers on a daily basis.
I also recommend talking to your customers--and not just good customers. Include customers who aren't happy with your service or product.
Come back on Wednesday to learn about the role the sales cycle plays in developing an effective content marketing strategy.