Content starts and sustains conversations with customers. But in order to have a meaningful dialogue, you need to know to whom you’re speaking.“Developing buyer personas” is what marketers call the process of figuring that out.
Developing Buyer Personas
I love this description from Ardath Albee: “A marketing persona is a composite sketch of a key segment of your audience. For content marketing purposes, you need personas to help you deliver content that will be most relevant and useful to your audience.”
Developing buyer personas is critical to determine:
- What content to create
- What tone, style, and delivery strategies to develop
- What topics and targets you should focus on to grow your business
- Who needs to be in-the-know on your projects, now and in the future
- How many personas do you need to create?
I recommended three to five. That number is large enough to cover the majority of your customers, yet small enough to be specific. Plus, more than five personas may bring serious cost challenges.When I led content marketing strategy for the IT Division of Schneider Electric, we selected five personas. They covered most of our customers: Data Center Professionals, IT Professionals, IT Resellers, Facility/Plant Managers, and C-Level Executives. They also accommodated our existing content, campaigns, and budget.
Personas commonly include:
- Demographic information (age, income, location)
- Background (job, career path, family)
- Key responsibilities
- Pain points
- Key purchase drivers
- Places they’re most likely to find information
- Preferred content formats (blog posts, videos, social media posts, e-books)
- Role in making purchases (influencer, purchaser, final decision-maker)
However, your personas may cover less. Not all B2B personas will need everything mentioned above. Since the average B2B buying decision involves three or four different departments, usually led by IT and finance, B2B brands can focus on segmenting personas by company role to address specific departments.
It’s important to invest time and resources to get your personas right. Content marketing can actually fail when built upon faulty buyer personas that, in turn, create a weak strategic foundation. This happens when marketers develop personas based on a wrong hunch or guesswork.