As of 2018, 91% of B2B marketers were using content marketing, with over half of the remaining 9% planning to launch a content marketing strategy within the following 12 months. This means that, by this time next year, close to 97% of B2B marketers should be fully immersed in a content marketing strategy.
(Image source: contentmarketinginstitute.com)
However, when we look at the perceived maturity organisations have of their own content marketing strategies, we can see that most companies consider themselves to be “adolescent” or lower, with only 25% describing their strategy as “mature”, and 9% as “sophisticated”.
(Image source: contentmarketinginstitute.com)
One factor of a content marketing strategy which mature or sophisticated companies will almost certainly be using is that of buyer personas. For the uninitiated, buyer personas are hypothetical and idealised profiles of the sorts of clients your business wants to acquire, and are used to guide marketing efforts to best target those groups.
Once you have a well-constructed buyer persona, you will be able to:
- Assist your writers in creating content which speaks directly to your ideal client
- Enable collaboration between marketing, product development, sales, and customer service for a consistent customer experience throughout your company
- Help sales departments identify qualified and unqualified leads
- Align business objectives between yourself and your clients
How to Create B2B Buyer Personas for Content Marketing
Before we get into the business of creating buyer personas, we need to decide what we need to know about our target buyers. This is achieved by asking some questions of your hypothetical client:
- What perspective is the client likely to have of your product given their own goals?
- What relationships does the client have which need to be considered when seeking new business arrangements?
- What obstacles are likely to be encountered at various stages of the buying process?
- What information might the client need as they move through the buying process?
- What are the client’s own priorities and challenges?
- What market does the client operate in, and how might this inform the style, tone and voice of any content produced?
A well-designed buyer persona should be able to answer all these questions, and there are five key steps to creating one and using it for content marketing.
There’s no point just sitting down and trying to get inside the mind of an imaginary person. Instead, the best way to begin gaining insight into your clients is to speak to the people who interact with them on a daily basis – your staff.
Speak to your salespeople, product marketers and managers to get an idea of how your organisation perceives your customers. Obviously, you are not going to be able to spend days on end distracting your busy staff from their work, so keep the interviews brief, or even consider sending it out as a survey. That way, though the data you get back may not be as rich and detailed as with qualitative interviews, you will nonetheless furnish yourself with a lot of quantitative data quickly and efficiently.
Some questions to ask might include:
- Who do you usually speak with at prospective companies?
- Who makes the final decision to buy?
- What questions do they have for you?
- How do they articulate their problems?
- What are their objectives?
- What kind of obstacles do you experience when closing a deal?
- For what reasons do they choose not to buy?
- Which competitors are mentioned most often?
- What do you think works in our favour?
- What have you heard from the customer service department?
- What trends do you see driving future product development?
- Do you see any applications for our products given industry developments?
- Do you find customers using the product in different ways than we intended?
- Where do you think our product is the weakest?
- Where do you think our product is the strongest?
- What are your top objectives?
- Where do you see the most opportunity for achieving them?
- What obstacles do you think could get in the way?
- What do you think sales needs to help them close more deals?
- How do you think we could deliver more value to our customers?
These suggestions are rather general and far from exhaustive, but they should hopefully give you an idea of the sorts of questions to have in mind, and guide you in coming up with ideas which are more specific to your business/industry.
Once you have carried out your interviews, you can begin to create your personas based on where you think your content marketing strategy will have the most impact. Once you know the type of person within a business you need to target, you can ensure that your offer has strategic value to that person.
It should go without saying, if you want to know what your clients are thinking, you are going to need to speak to them directly. Interviewing your existing customers means the difference between knowing and guessing.
Send out a survey to existing clients. Some ideas for questions might include:
- Can you tell me about a typical day in your work life?
- What are your business priorities?
- What are the biggest obstacles you find while working to achieve them?
- What motivated you to search for an external solution?
- What prevented the problem from being solved internally?
- Who else was involved in making the final decision?
- Where did you find the most helpful information?
- What other solutions did you consider?
- What resistance did you encounter when a solution was proposed?
- What happened to get everyone on board?
- What made you finally settle on our solution?
While it’s better for your data to ask open-ended questions, this must be balanced with reducing barriers to customers completing the survey. As such, you may wish to offer multiple choice responses, with the option to add additional notes if desired.
You could even consider incentivising your customers to complete the survey with a discount code or similar reward.
The next thing to do is some specific research into the people you’d like to target with your content marketing. Thankfully, in our online world, this is easier than ever before, so head to LinkedIn, Twitter, company websites, and anywhere else you can think of, and gather as much data as you can.
Look for how active they are on social media, the sorts of things they’re posting, the news stories that concern them, political allegiances, education levels, time spent in current role, recommendations written about them, etc. If they have a blog, read it, and see what their thoughts on their industry are. There’s no such thing as too much information, so trawl the internet for every morsel.
Build the Persona
Now is the time to put all that data into action and build your buyer persona. There is no set way to structure a buyer persona, but, broadly speaking, you should include the following categories:
- A day in the life story written from the buyer’s perspective
- Professional attributes
- Channel preferences (direct mail, email, etc.)
- Social media platforms and activity
Avoid vague and broad statements, and instead make sure everything is written from the perspective of the hypothetical client.
(Image source: mycustomer.com)
Write Your Content
Armed with your thoroughly researched and detailed persona, you can now make sure your content strategy is designed specifically to target those that fit it. Come up with titles which look to answer the questions and solve the pain points these people have, and promote your content on the social media networks your buyer personas are using.
Design keyword strategies to target the topics they are likely to be searching for to increase the chances of them coming across your content. Or, if you have an organisation in mind, you could even contact them directly and send them a piece of content that addresses an issue they’ve publicly declared they’re experiencing.
A well-written buyer persona gives your writers the power to create targeted, meaningful content like never before.
An Expert Solution
Here at markITwrite, we have years of experience designing bespoke marketing strategies for businesses like yours. We can design and execute entire content marketing strategies, from buyer personas to expertly written content, social media promotion, and more.
Please get in touch today.