Is a buyer persona a customer profile or an indicator of buying behavior? Savvy marketers know content must be mapped to the right stage of the buying cycle and answer the right concerns.

The better-rounded you can make your buyer persona “template,” the more you’ll understand about buying signals and true pain points. That way, you can map content to those pain points and have appropriate follow up signals.

The Three Components Of Demand Generating Content:

1—Talking to the right people

2—On the right channels

3—With the right content

So simple in theory.

Buyer personas
Copyright: ginasanders / 123RF Stock Photo

Each of these elements play a role in crafting effective buyer personas.

There’s the initial awareness phase – blog posts for example.

That’s followed by the research or consideration phase – case studies or webinars and finally the decision making stage – demonstrations/trials.

Each of these potential buyers are at very different stages in their awareness and needs and how your product or service solves their problem. So it makes sense you’ll need multiple personas and they’ll evolve over time.

Tonya Vinas, Senior Content Strategist at Content4Demand.com, a content marketing agency based in Ohio says:

“Buyer personas are like windows on a house, they give you a view inside. It doesn’t matter how many you have or what they look like. The most important thing is they give insight into your buyers.”

If you’re just starting out, she recommends using an existing framework to help you create yours. There are many models available via companies like Hubspot or Sirius Decisions. You can “try on” two or three and see what works best for you. You may find one of your categories is more important than you realize.

She also recommends getting outside validation on your target buyer. Either through independent research or through a company like Content 4 Demand. That outside perspective offers additional insight that you may not have considered.

Krista Souto, Marketing Consultant and President of BMAPhilly, gives this advice on crafting buyer personas.

“Know. Thy. Audience. Words to live by for a marketer. Take the meaning of those words to a deeper level with the creation of buyer personas. Without personas, you are “spraying and praying” – i.e. wasting the time of your resources, flagrantly spending advertising dollars that could be easily more targeted, and essentially, herding cats.”

1. What do you think is the chief element most companies overlook as they put together buyer personas?

You need groupthink for a successful persona set. Don’t leave the work to the marketing team – they cannot create buyer personas in a vacuum. Take the time to do it the RIGHT way – through evaluation of your lead score data, face-to-face meetings with your sales teams, and a collection of data on your past and current clients. Getting to know your buyer is a collaborative effort across functional boundaries within an organization.‪

2. What do you think is the most important element in a buyer persona?

The most important element is to use of the persona in your digital marketing. When putting the personas in action – do not forget to incorporate your findings into your SEO on your website.

You’ll have invaluable information to write content that will resonate and attract the buyer – so use it! If you’re executing on social, be sure to use the right one – B2B buyers generally don’t look to Facebook for answers for instance. So get to know your buyers – then lure them in with the right content in the right place with the right message — all wrapped up in your buyer persona sets.

If you follow these guidelines to crafting your personas, you’ll be on the right track. Over time you’ll learn more about your buyers and use your new found knowledge to refine your messaging.

However, if you’re like Samantha Bammes, Programmatic and Behavioral Marketing Specialist for Multiview.com, you realize that with the right tools come real-time marketing. That brings a whole new perspective to the idea of personas.

New to her role at Multiview, which is the world’s largest B2B digital publisher, she said she came in looking for the buyer personas and found they don’t use them — at least not in the traditional sense.

“We use unstructured data for our campaigns so we have unlimited data points to qualify that prospect or lead. That determines how aggressively we pursue that person. If someone visits a site 15 times, downloads a White Paper and views two competitors then we know that person is showing buying signals and we target them accordingly.”

Typically, you might start with a general idea of your buyer personas. For example, you know the CFO, the beginner marketer and the IT professional have different pain points so you target content for each of those. That’s where most companies end it. In reality, that’s only the beginning.

The fun starts when you start adapting the “what happens next” based on the person’s search and actions taken. Done well, your content adapts to the prospect and their needs at the moment. That sounds suspiciously like solving real needs in real time and would have a major impact on the closing the sales cycle.

It’s All About Refining

The good news is that a well-planned buyer persona helps you map your content strategically which will result in more demand. The other good news is, if you treat your buyer personas as living document, you can add to it and make adjustments along the way.

After all, if you know what makes your prospect tick, you know exactly what to say and how to say it.

As marketers, we’re used to reviewing the data and making adjustments. When you review your open and click through rates, you learn what your current readership finds valuable. When you review your analytics, you can see where they linger the most. Use that data to craft a survey to discover more, talk to your sales team, talk to your prospects at an event.

This is an arena where more data — and putting it into context — can help you connect the dots. With good input from multiple sources, your buyer personas will leave no doubt as to what piece of content comes next.

What insights do your current personas give you? What information do you still need?

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