Using Buyer Personas to Develop a Content Marketing Strategy

content-marketing-wheelDo you understand the buyer personas within your industry? To really understand how to develop your content marketing strategy you need to understand the buyer persona and the sales value chain within the industry you work. In this article I am going to discuss the buyer persona and how it can help you develop better content by understanding this key component of the sales value chain.

Buyer Persona – Buyer personas encapsulate your business’ knowledge and understanding about the types of people marketing and sales speak to in the sales process.

Many people think of buyer personas as simply segmentation but I believe that they are so much more than that. Robert Wright wrote a great post on buyer personas titled “Building Buyer Personas: A Checklist for High-Tech Marketers” on CMO.com where he highlighted four main topics you need to understand about your audience to build a solid buyer persona: Background, Market Dynamics and Challenges, Motivation, and Decision-Making Process.

Background helps you understand the person that you are marketing to. How did they get to where they are? What drives them in their current position? How fast does the company the person works for move within the changing market conditions? I think the old adage that you can’t understand where we’re going without understanding where we’ve been is a great way of understanding the Background element.

Market Dynamics and Challenges is pretty fundamental when doing any type of marketing and especially with content marketing. Understanding what market dynamics are causing your target buyers to make a purchase decision and to what affect it has on the information necessary to make a decision is extremely important.

Motivation is what is driving the decision maker to make a purchase. How will the buyer personally gain from buying your product? Will it make his or her boss happy? Is he or she looking to keep up with competitors in the industry? Are there relationships with internal stakeholders affecting the decision? Understanding motivation behind a buyer’s decision will give you great insight into how active you will need to be in order to motivate the buyer into letting you on the list of potential business partners.

Decision-Making Process is the end to end of the sales value chain in my opinion. Who has the ultimate authority to make a purchase decision? Who are the influencers to making the decision? In most B2B transactions there is usually a team of people who make the final decision. The question to understand is if there is someone who has more weight on the committee than everyone else?

Here is a great resource for “10 Rules for Buyer Persona Development from Goal Centric if you need more help on developing buyer personas. So how does this help you develop a better content marketing strategy? I like to ask myself the basic five W’s when developing my content: who, what, when, where, and why.

Who: Who am I targeting with my content?

What: What type of content are they consuming?

When: When are they consuming content within my average sales timeline?

Where: Where are they going to get content?

Why: Why are they consuming the types of content that they are?

Understanding the four elements of Buyer Persona will help answer all five W’s but how will it help you develop your marketing content strategy? Now that you have built your buyer persona you should have a clear idea of who will be involved in making the purchase decision from the direct decision maker on down to key influencers. You should also have a clear idea of the type of content that each key player uses to make decisions. The final piece is developing an idea of how involved each decision maker and influencer is in making the final decision. I would weight the amount of content focused on each person in the decision in direct proportion to the final decision. Again it is important to understand if there is someone on the team who has more authority (like a CFO) then a majority of content should be developed and targeted there (say 60%), with 30% focused on other members of the decision team. Although the big focus is on the ultimate decision maker don’t forget to make sure you have content developed for influencers as well! Being seen by everyone along the value chain is important as in many cases information gets passed along through so many different channels.

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