If you want to take your content strategy to the next level, one of the smartest moves you can make is to create a buyer persona(s) for the content you create.
What is a buyer persona?
A buyer persona is an abstract representation of your ideal customer/client/donor/partner. Ideally, your sales and marketing department will already have existing buyer personas that you can work off of. If not, you’ll need to coordinate with these departments to create new personas.
What the big deal about a buyer persona? Think of personas as a ‘day in the life’ snapshot of your ideal customer. Personas help the content creator quickly and easily understand the person it is creating the content for, as well as the type of content that can best meet the needs of that person. Personas help give your content creators structure and direction on the type of content they should be creating. In fact, if your personas are developed correctly, you even set your content calendar with your personas instead of topics. For instance, on Monday you write a post for Sarah, on Wednesday you write one for Isaac, and Friday is for Jennifer.
Where do you get the information to create your buyer persona?
In other words, how do you determine who your ‘ideal’ customer is? A good starting point is to talk to your sales team. This group typically has the most hands-on experience working with and connecting directly with your customers. Also check with your marketing team, and see if they have done any customer surveys. Your ecommerce team can also help with information about who your customers are. Finally, talk to your customer service team, they can give you a different set of customer insights, which we will talk about in a minute.
These are all in-house sources of information. You can also look at market research, especially research done about customers in your industry and vertical. Also, study your competitors and try to get a sense for who they are targeting with their sales and marketing efforts, this will give you a sense of who their ideal customer is.
What does a buyer persona include?
There’s multiple areas of information that you want to focus on to help define each buyer persona that you create. For each of these areas, you want to be as specific as possible, while still being accurate. For instance, you don’t want to say your ideal customer is a male aged 18-34, because that’s a pretty big age range. You want to shorten that age range as a much as possible, while still being as accurate as possible.
This is the first area of information you want to focus on. You want to include basic information such as gender, age, martial status, income level and educational history. If your company is a B2C, then you want to also make sure that your buyer persona clearly defines that person’s role within the family. You want to know how your persona relates to the other members of the family, and whether or not this person has direct control over purchases or not.
For a B2B, you want to clearly define the person’s role within their company. You want to clearly define their responsibilities within their company, as well as where their position fits within the company hierarchy. As with a B2C persona, you want to clearly define if this persona has direct control over purchases, or if they must work with someone else within the company to secure that purchases are made. In both scenarios, you basically want to know who has the ability to authorize a purchase; is it the persona, or someone else.
The persona’s pain points and worries
Here, you identify and detail what ‘keeps them up at night’. You detail what problems the persona faces in their home and/or business life. This is done to help the content creator understand the problems that your products and services help solve. You can also detail what worries them, and also what excites them about being in their position, whether it be in a personal or professional setting. For instance, if your persona works for Company ABC, detail what they like about their job, and dislike. Talk about the issues the persona faces on a daily basis that the persona feels is holding them back. These are problems that the persona faces, but they also can give you a sense of what type of content you should be creating to address those problems, or at least communicate how your products or services can address those problems.
What type of content does the persona prefer, and from what sources?
Here, you want to gain insights into the type of content your persona is looking for, and why. Do they want video content that can demonstrate how your products and services work? Do they prefer posts or articles that can explain how they work? Also, where do they get their content from? Do they consult blogs, or do they prefer to more ‘mainstream’ sites? You basically want to know what sources does the persona trust for information, and in what form does that information exist?
Where is the persona on the buyer’s journey?
At this point, let’s quickly review the buyer’s journey:
You want to establish where your persona is on the above buyer’s journey. This will give you insights not only into the type of content the persona needs based on their location on the buyer’s journey, but it will also show you how to craft the content in order to move the buyer to the next stage. This is also a good place to review if the persona has direct control over purchasing decisions, or if they must convince some other person or party to approve purchases.
Meet Sarah, your new persona!
This is a very basic persona I created in roughly a half hour using the format outlined in this post. You can go far more in depth than this, I’ve worked with clients that had about four times as much information in their personas. I just wanted to give you an idea of what this would look like.
Note that just from this simple persona, you can get a much better idea of who your ideal customer Sarah is, and how to create content that’s useful to her. You can see she needs content that helps her with her time management issues. So any products or services you sell that can help her save time as either a business owner OR a mom, will resonate with Sarah. You can also see where she is on the Buyer’s Journey, plus you get a sense of her income. Smaller purchases that can benefit her in either role as a mom or business owner, Sarah can likely make by herself. A major purchase would likely require she and her spouse to consult first. Additionally, her age tells you that she is likely more comfortable with emerging digital technologies and how she prefers to consume and interact with content.
So that shows you how personas can truly take the effectiveness of your content strategy to the next level. What I love about personas is they help bring clarity to your content creation efforts. Anything that helps clarify who you are creating content for, and what type of content you should be creating for them, helps you create better content, in less time. I’m all about doing more in less time, and personas can definitely boost your productivity when it comes to creating content.
Want me? Check out #ContentCircus tonight as we will be discussing How to Create Personas For Your Content Marketing Strategy tonight on Twitter at 7pm Central! If you miss tonight’s chat on Twitter, I will post a recap here tomorrow morning!