You’ve probably heard that the best practice in content marketing is to target each piece of content to a specific buyer. But like many “best practices” making sure each content asset is created with a specific buyer in mind is easier said than done.
The key to keeping your content focused on your buyers is to start with their needs, rather than your organization’s goals. And the best way to do that is to create comprehensive buyer personas for each type of buyer your organization wants to target.
So what’s a buyer persona? It’s a detailed profile for each of your identifiable groups of customers. A persona goes beyond job title and company type. You want to use your personas to create interesting, relevant content for these buyers, so you need to dig deeper. What are their interests and goals? What social media do they spend the most time on? Where are they located? What are their hobbies? What are their pain points and most urgent needs?
Only after you create detailed personas for each of your buyers, are you ready to start developing content for them. The first consideration when creating any new piece of content should be who is the content for and where in the funnel should they encounter it. That way, every single piece of content that you create has an audience and place in the sales cycle.
Buyer personas are something the folks at LeadMD use every day to ensure their leads get the content they want, when they’re ready for it. Recently we sat down with Justin Gray, CEO and Chief Marketing Evangelist for LeadMD and discussed how buyer personas form the backbone of their content marketing strategy. Below are his tips on creating and using buyer personas to take your content marketing efforts to the next level.
Ideation Starts with the Persona
Trying to brainstorm ideas for content without first outlining your buyer personas is putting the cart before the horse. You can’t create targeted, relevant content that solves a specific problem if you don’t know who it’s for or what their needs are. Each piece of content at LeadMD is created for a specific buyer type and a specific stage in that buyer’s journey. Once you understand this piece of content’s purpose, only then does it make sense to brainstorm about specific topics that will be helpful to that buyer.
Different Buyers Have Different Journeys
Marketers often create beautiful buyer personas that describe the interests, needs, and pain points of each of their buyers, but then forget to think about how those different needs affect their journey. The steps along the path to a purchasing decision (and the obstacles which need to be addressed) differ based on who your buyers are and what they need. That means that your personas should include not only descriptions of each of your buyers’ starting points, but also what each buyers’ unique journey looks like.
Let Leads Segment Themselves
As you get to know your leads, you’ll have a better sense of which of your buyer personas they fit with best and where they are in their journey. It’s important to change and update the content you’re sending them to reflect your new information. Justin recommends creating responsive nurture tracks that will move leads to different segments based on how they engage with your brand. That way as you learn more about your leads, the content they receive becomes more relevant to their particular needs.
Keep Evaluating and Updating
A buyer persona is a living document, not an art piece you frame and put on the wall. When you first create one, you’ll have to make some educated guesses as to what your buyers’ interests are and what content they’ll find most helpful. Once you start creating targeted content, however, you’ll learn a lot about which pieces were successful and which didn’t really resonate with your audience. Make sure to keep re-visiting your personas with these new insights so that the next round of content can be even better targeted.
Revise After Every Win
Every time you close a deal, your organization did something right. But chances are, your new customer’s experience wasn’t perfect. Right after a win is a great time to sit down with the sales and account executives involved and ask them what challenges or concerns this customer faced when making a purchase decision. Use this feedback to update your personas and create content that addresses their objections before future customers even realize they have them.
Creating useful, detailed buyer personas is a big project. And it needs to be an ongoing initiative if they’re going to stay accurate and up to date. But if you commit to it, you’ll find that it’s a lot easier to come up with content ideas, and your content will resonate better with your audience.
To get more tips from Justin Gray on how LeadMD uses content marketing to drive success, check out the video below or on our resources page. He discusses how LeadMD approaches content marketing and how they’ve used Kapost to stay organized and increase efficiencies.