Target Your Content with Buyer Personas

target content marketingRecently I wrote about “Using Buyer Personas to Develop Content Marketing Strategy” and I discussed the role of decision makers and influencers. In December the IT Service Marketing Association released a great study on “How Buyers Consume Information Survey” and highlighted a third group involved in making purchase decisions within organizations; Evaluators. Evaluators are research focused individuals who are vetting potential partners and putting together the short list of final candidates for decisions makers. This study surveyed 299 professionals with the breakdown being 13% Influencer, 19% Evaluator, and 67% Decision Maker who make IT purchases greater than $500,000.

In my previous article I raised the question of “do you know how your target customers are searching for information?” The ITSMA survey answers some of those questions for IT buyers and points out some very interesting trends. The survey groups buyers into two separate categories based on their behaviors:

Social Buyer: Someone who uses online communities to make purchase decisions

Traditional Buyer: Someone who feels online communities are not as useful to make purchase decisions

The study separated the two groups by the question “How useful are social media channels during the purchase process from 1 – 5” (1 being not at all useful and 5 being very useful). Participants rating from 1 to 3 were grouped as traditional buyers while those noting 4 or 5 were grouped in the Social Buyer Category. I think the traditional category is skewed somewhat as 28% of respondents (the highest total for one rating) gave social media a 3 as far as importance. Even with the smaller sample size I believe the study gives marketers a good idea of how buyers are consuming information.

The first difference between the two types of buyers is that Social Buyers spend 6.5 hours per week consuming content while Traditional Buyers spend only 4.3 hours or 34% less  time-consuming content. There was also a significant difference in the way that the two buyer types preferred to receive information:

Social Buyers: Research Reports, Social Media, Email Newsletters, In-Person Seminars/Conferences/ Trade Shows, Print Journals/Magazines

Traditional Buyers: In-Person Seminars/Conferences/Trade Shows, Research Reports, Virtual Conferences/Trade Shows, Webinars, Sales Call/Private Briefing

Just looking at these few factors alone we can see how you may want to start tailoring your inbound and outbound marketing strategies to meet audience interests. In this study there were slightly more traditional buyers than there were social buyers but I think that trend will shift as time goes on. It would be really interesting to see how type of buyer shifts across industries. Looking at the results we see some overlap in content that both types of buyers are using such as In-Person Seminars/Conferences/ Trade Shows as well as Research reports. I would use this information to build my marketing strategy in these two areas and build out to include integration of content that can be distributed across the differing channels. Hopefully this helps you better see how building customer personas can help you develop a targeted content strategy.

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 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.

How Buyer Personas Can Sharpen B2B Marketing | Business 2 Community

See on Scoop.itDigital and Social Media Marketing for B2B

B2B marketers who develop a composite picture of the real people who buy, or might buy their products can form a bond of customer trust that most rivals can not

Kevin Chase‘s insight:

This is a great precursor to my blog post upcoming next week focusing on B2B purchasing and marketing within that value chain. To understand how businesses make purchase decisions you first need to understand the people behind these decisions and how they make purchase decisions on a personal level. After you understand this you can move on to better understanding of how purchase decisions are made across teams.

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Four Steps to Convince CEOs that Demand Generation Should be a Marketing, Not a Sales, Function

See on Scoop.itDigital and Social Media Marketing for B2B

TweetFor most of us, the phrase “demand generation” conjures up things like campaigns, trade shows, and the corporate website. But what about sales prospecting?

Kevin Chase‘s insight:

Great article highlighting how you can quantify the direct impact to sales of prospecting and attach a real dollar value. The post builds highlights exactly why demand generation belongs in marketing.

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Social Media Survey on Private and Business Use

social-mediaTake my new 9 question survey on social media use!

The reason for this survey is that over the next couple of months I am going to be talking in depth about the sales and marketing value chain. The reason for my interest in this is due to the somewhat disjointed content marketing strategy I have noticed of late. Marketers need to have a strong grasp on exactly who they are marketing to and what types of content they are consuming; a CFO is most likely consuming data in a different way than is a CMO. There are multiple factors that I believe make this relevant to study in further detail as a marketer.