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Content Marketing for Your Buyer Personas

  
  
  

In our most recent post, The Ultimate B2B content marketing memeMarketing Guide to Building Buyer Personas, we explored the how tos and whys of buyer personas. Today, we want to give you some useful tips on writing for these personas. Creating content that makes your audience think "Yes this is for me."

"Marketing is smarter than it ever was... you can create highly segmented lead lists and send behaviour-triggered lead nurturing campaigns. To take advantage of this sophisticated marketing automation technology, you need two very important things: buyer personas and content," says Dan Stasiewski from Kuno Creative. Let's take a look at the later: creating content for our personas...

Feed your buyers with at least 10 pieces of content

Jay Baer, of Convince&Convert and coauthor of "The Now Revolution: 7 Shifts to Make Your Business Faster, Smarter and More Social”, says that B2B buyers typically consume ten pieces of content before making a purchase. A blog article, tweet, whitepaper, webinar, guest blogger’s review, LinkedIn group debate, Facebook status update, SlideShare presentation, product video, and an email.

But it's hard work. Buyers don't respond well to being hassled, and they will only consume your content if it appeals to them, helps them, educates them. Plus they are likely to consume ten pieces of content across a dynamic mix of platforms and social media sites.

Perhaps you’re dismissing the idea that your buyers use social media, we’d like to suggest you reconsider. A Forrester survey found that 86% of business-tech buyers engage in some form of social activity for work purposes. And, in Jay Baer’s webinar "7 B2B Social Myths", he argues that B2B buyers use social media with greater intensity and frequency than in a private capacity.

To make matters more complex, different decision-makers and influencers will hang out in different online spaces, trusting different forums and content hubs. And these various buyer types have their own questions and information needs.

So how do we navigate this matrix as content marketers?

We have to create content that is:

  1. Present at every relevant online touch point (our personas' watering holes)
  2. Responsive to the varied buyer types’ problems, queries, and needs
  3. Persuasive enough to belong to the pieces of content that propel different personas through their respective buying cycles

Ease your buyers' pain

Initially, your content needs to trouble your buyers, question and challenge them almost BEFORE they recognise they have a problem. Help them diagnose their problem, to give it a name and MOST IMPORTANTLY to help them define a concrete need. 

Let's use the example of a company that provides an email archiving service. One of its personas is a business owner whose main concern is email compliance.

The traditional approach: "You should choose us because we're great. We've got these features and functions which will give you these benefits. Contact us before the end of the quarter for your 20% discount! What other snore-worthy marketing material can I shove at you to convince you? Oh, and I'll be emailing you, calling you on your mobile, following you on social media, and everything else I can think of (short of stalking you) to pressure you into buying." Extreme? Unfortunately it's all too common.

Consider taking this approach: "Do you realise the implications of not being able to retrieve email correspondence in the event of an issue? Do you know that company directors are personally liable if your organisation is unable to retrieve information in the case of a legal challenge? Have you had a crack at calculating the cost in terms of time and lost productivity of wading through years of emails to find that particular needle in the haystack? 

Have we got your attention yet? Hopefully!

Now we're going to educate you about how you can be legally compliant, and give you other useful information about email archiving and retention policies. We're going to give you a case study of a company who have figured out how to solve the problem you, our target buyer, has got. Why? To earn your trust, so you realise that we get you, and if you or anyone you know happen to be interested in an email archiving solution in the future, you'll think of us.

When you are interested in seeking a solution to your need we'll have different content ready for you to download. We'll provide you with an ROI calculator so you can build a business case to take to your boss."

How to develop authentic content

For content to genuinely engage leads and resonate with your buyers, it needs to be authentic. 

Adele Revella of the Buyer Persona Institute advises conducting real, unscripted, natural interviews with customers. The hope is that you'll get honest and insightful answers. The goal is to create humanised content that truthfully speaks to your buyers' challenges.

Once you have that insight, use workshops to develop a long list of buyer's problems you solve. Understand which of those problems are most acute. Honestly assess which of those problems you are best at solving.

With these two compass points guiding you, then map content to the different stages of the buyer's journey from unaware and uninterested to active engaged prospect, ready to talk to sales.

Use this simple process to guide your content editorial calendar.

After all, your leads are looking for ten pieces of valuable content. The content that will crack it (and take them further down your sales funnel) will be the content that understands their dilemma -- that offers worthy solutions.

For a more informative look at content marketing, download your free eBook on The Content Marketing Revolution

 

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Comments

Excellent comments all. I just posted a "quick check" of four questios to ask yourself to assure your content is compelling, based on my years as a trade press editor. 
http://scheierassociates.com/2012/08/marketing-content-reader-focused-quick-ways 
 
Look forward to hearing more thoughts! 
Posted @ Friday, August 17, 2012 8:26 AM by Bob Scheier
Hi Bob. Thanks for the comment and useful link. I especially like the note: "And if you can’t explain why the reader should care, don’t tell them." This is particularly true for jargon-laden industries and their communication with audiences less familiar with the content. Lists of product/solution benefits and features don't tell potential leads WHY they should care. Thanks for the conversation and keep reading.
Posted @ Sunday, August 19, 2012 10:51 PM by Michela Ziady
Enjoyed your post Michael. I like the 10 pieces of content reminder and agree that different personas that exist within a company's target spend their time in different online neighborhoods and are interested in different points of view on a particular topic. I have found that once you have created a clear description of Buyer Personas using what I call the F.A.R.E. Content Marketing model (frequent, authentic, relevant and engaging) provides a solid framework for content creation. http://farecontentmarketing.com/what-is-fair-content-marketing
Posted @ Tuesday, August 21, 2012 12:53 PM by Chris Bechtel
Hi Chris. Thanks for your comments across the board -- great to see interesting conversation happening. I think the Relevant and the Engaging pillars of your FARE model are particularly important when dealing with buyer personas; pitching content that speaks to their buying pain (a relevant message) in their language (in a style that engages). Authenticity should, in an ideal world of content marketing, underpin all our communication. And frequency is again a variable that we tailor to our personas' changing needs *and* the different stages of the funnel. And, establishing these buyer personas is always the first step - http://www.g2msolutions.com.au/blog/bid/108302/The-Ultimate-B2B-Marketing-Guide-to-Building-Buyer-Personas
Posted @ Tuesday, August 21, 2012 6:07 PM by Michela Ziady
Great article. The most valuable information marketing can deliver to sales is related to a prospect or customers' propensity to buy specific products. B2B Purchase Behavior Data--what companies buy and how their behavior changes over time--is the most reliable indicator of a propects' intent and/or capacity to buy. Fortunately, B2B purchase behavior data is now available and is rapidly becoming a highly-valuable corporate asset.  
Posted @ Thursday, January 03, 2013 9:18 AM by Aaron
Interesting insight. In this day and age, where business people feel like they have less time in a day, maximizing productivity is as important as ever. With the economic status the way it is, the sales process needs to be more efficient than ever before. Having new insights into the mind of buyers would give marketing and sales professionals a way to maximize efficiency and revenue. Cortera now has a a great platform of Business-2-Business buyers intelligence that would really give marketers and sales people a leg up. Check it out atwww.cortera.com.
Posted @ Tuesday, February 05, 2013 9:35 AM by Gary
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