You’re a B2B content marketing advocate. You totally understand that having the right information available at the right time is how we’re going to attract new prospects and help to qualify them. Buyer personas are invaluable for predicting whether your content will encourage your target prospects to click.
Ultimately, having the right content for your B2B marketing programme is a function of how well you understand your target buyers (more here on having content marketing with a purpose). Content that doesn’t connect might look great, but it won’t move the dial on performance.
To present our rationale for why buyer personas are essential, firstly, here’s the First Base definition of what a buyer persona is:
1. Personas focus on understanding the reasons WHY PEOPLE ARE LOOKING TO BUY, rather than who they are, their job title or their business profile
2. Buyer personas are needs-based. They represent a collection of people who have similar requirements – either professional or personal – and who are faced with the same challenge, or looking to solve the same issue.
Here’s why we believe buyer personas are necessary for effective content marketing:
“By understanding requirements of a buyer persona at every stage of the buyer journey we can design content and marketing programmes that meet these needs, helping buyers to self-serve towards a sale and identify themselves as a lead.”
Sounds good. In practical terms, this means you need a buyer journey for each persona involved in a B2B buying decision. In B2B there are typically multiple influencers and stakeholders involved in reaching a decision to purchase. To be effective with content strategy and marketing you need to not only have these stakeholders identified but also understand what is important to each of them – what questions do they need answers to, when and how, and how do they interact and have influence across the buyer journey. Mapping this all out becomes the basis of your content strategy – already you will be halfway to being confident your planned content assets will perform well.
No doubt you agree with the theory, so why do we think personas are critical? It’s because if you don’t get to this level of detail before you start your content, you can only effectively engage and communicate with one of your buyer personas, reducing your effectiveness in supporting a sale. Take any asset you can think of – for instance, let’s say it’s a timeline counting down what you need to do, by when, to achieve compliance. For a persona driven by the need to tick the compliance box, it might make perfect sense and solves his issue, but he’s not the only person you need to engage in this purchase. Your content probably won’t explain how to look beyond ticking the compliance box which would better engage a big thinking persona, and it likely doesn’t cover the detail on how to operationalise the key steps and minimise business impact for a day-to-day efficiency-focused persona.
Hopefully that helps explain it a little. Just by having these personas in the picture, you can look holistically at planning the right content, message and format for each segment of your audience. Then you can begin plotting assets along the buyer journey to ensure you cover all the players from beginning to end of the process.
Good content always starts with good strategy. It takes time to get to the point where you’re sure your content will work – typically, there’s a degree of trial and error and iteration involved with developing content that optimises performance. As a side-tip, if you are going for a big budget content piece or programme, consider de-risking whether it will work with a pilot campaign. Try out your messages and CTAs in social and maybe some social PPC to see whether it’s getting noticed before you get down the line with commissioning and production.
For more information on customising your personas and giving your sales and marketing teams the tools to move the content marketing dial, get in touch for a chat at firstname.lastname@example.org.