Every year, buyers are becoming more self-reliant. They’re looking online for answers to the questions they have, research on the things they need, and solutions to the problems they face — and they’re doing it without any outside help. If businesses aren’t providing content around these topics, they’re not going to engage prospects, convert leads, or drive revenue — period.
Personas — which outline buyer motivations, assumptions, expectations, and goals — can be invaluable for helping organizations figure out what content to deliver, as well as when, where, and how to deliver it.
Unfortunately, while many businesses create these personas, most marketers struggle to incorporate them in the day-to-day operation of their teams.
The consequence? Buyer personas become stale and remain stuck in the strategy phase, and marketers start making their own assumptions about what their prospects want and need as they develop content — a dangerous pattern that threatens to alienate the very readers they’re trying to convert.
So, how do you develop content for your buyer personas? The first step is to make sure your personas are well-researched, truly reflect your buyer base, and contain key details that help you target your message.
Here are a few examples of what your personas might include:
- Demographic information, such as household income, marital status, age, gender, etc.
- Employment information, such as job title and level of seniority
- Hobbies and interests
- Pain points
- Goals and values
- Digital habits: Where do they get their information? What online and offline publications do they read?
- Expectations when shopping or searching for products and services like yours
HubSpot gives a great overview of questions to ask while developing your personas. Once your personas are fully baked, you can start implementing them into your content development process by following these three steps:
1. Identify Your Content Themes
At the beginning of each quarter, gather the stakeholders in your organization together to identify which content themes you need to address. Since your personas are based on the real needs, values, expectations, and goals of your prospects and customers, these content themes should be directly informed by your personas.
Your list of content themes shouldn’t be a list of content assets. It’s a high-level list of the problems you want to solve and the questions you want to answer. Some examples of content themes for the financial services industry, for example, might be “paying off student debt” or “getting a small business loan.”
2. Identify Your Content Assets
Once the stakeholders in your company have provided a list of themes they want to address with content for the quarter, it’s up to the marketing team to figure out what assets to develop for each stage of the buying cycle — from engagement to purchase.
At Kapost, we use an “appetizer, entrée, dessert” model for each content theme. The “appetizer” is a lighter, fun content asset which aims to engage personas at the top of the funnel. The “entrée” is the major content asset or pillar that provides a deep dive into the content theme at hand. The “dessert” piece is a more product-focused asset for prospects who have raised their hands and are ready to take the next step toward purchase.
Your personas can guide the format and tone of the content you’re trying to create. They represent the real humans you’re trying to reach. Make sure each piece of content you create — from social posts to whitepapers — speaks to them in a language they understand.
3. Plan Your Distribution
If you aren’t serving your content in the places your buyers are looking, it’s not going to make an impact, no matter how on-point it may be. Personas can be extremely helpful in determining your content distribution strategy. If the majority of your personas consume content on LinkedIn, it doesn’t make any sense to invest a lot of money in Facebook Ads.
Your personas are the key to reaching your buyers online. Use them.
Developing content that’s not informed by buyer personas is like trying to play darts in the dark. If you don’t have faith in the personas your organization has on hand, lead the effort in developing new, more accurate ones.
As buyers become more independent, marketers become more responsible for finding and converting them. It’s up to us to become advocates for the tools and information we need to be successful.