Content Marketing Basics for 2013 – Buyer Personas

Relevant content is a fundamental requirement for any effective content marketing effort. Today’s business buyers are incredibly busy, and they view their time as their most precious commodity. Just as important, buyers now have easy access to a wealth of information, and they’ve come to believe that they can find whatever information they need whenever they need it. Under these circumstances, relevant marketing content is essential for creating and maintaining engagement with potential buyers.

To create relevant marketing content, you obviously need to know who your potential buyers are, and you must understand what makes them tick. You need to have a clear picture of the problems and issues they are facing on the job and how they are trying to deal with those problems and challenges.

The best tool for collecting and organizing information about your potential buyers is a buyer persona. A buyer persona is a detailed description of an actual type of buyer who is involved in  decisions to purchase the kinds of products and services you provide. A buyer persona is, therefore, a composite description of a type of buyer, rather than a description of an individual human being. It contains demographic data about the buyer and, more importantly, it describes the buyer’s business situation and motivations. Developing a persona for each of your significant buyer types will provide the information you need to create content that will resonate with those buyers.

Before beginning work on your buyer personas, you will need to develop your ideal customer profile. An ICP is a description of the types of organizations that constitute your best prospects. An ideal customer profile includes firmographic information such as industry vertical, company size, and geographic location. Much of this information will be included in the buyer personas, but I’ve found that it’s better to develop the ICP first.

In my last article, I discussed the process for formulating your core customer value propositions. One step in that process is to identify the individuals in the prospect organization who are most affected by the issues or problems that your product or service can address. If you’ve gone through this process, you’ll have a pretty good idea of what individuals (described by job title or job function) are part of the “buying group” for your solution. Identifying the buying group is important because it tells you what buyer personas you need to develop.

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A complete B2B buyer persona will contain the following eight components:

  • Type of business - The type of business the buyer works for. This will be drawn from your ideal customer profile.
  • Job title/function - The buyer’s position in the prospect organization.
  • Buying role - The role the buyer plays in the purchasing decision process. Common roles include the user buyer and the economic buyer.
  • Objectives/responsibilities - The major business objectives and job responsibilities of the buyer.
  • Performance measures - The measures used to evaluate the buyer’s job performance.
  • Strategies - What the buyer does to achieve his/her objectives and fulfill his/her job responsibilities.
  • Major issues/concerns - This is the heart of the buyer persona. If you can identify what issues and problems are keeping your potential buyers awake a night, you can create compelling marketing content.
  • Personal attributes - These attributes include the age, gender, education level, and compensation level of your buyer. Obviously, ranges will be used for most of these attributes.

Buyer personas simplify the content development process because they define the target audiences and identify the major issues that your content resources need to address.

In my next article, I’ll explain how to use a content audit to determine what specific content resources you need to develop.

Read Part 1 of the content marketing series here.

Read Part 2 of the content marketing series here.

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