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Using Buyer Personas

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As businesses become more “human” – that is, as we increasingly expect them to present a human persona and to no longer be faceless entities – modes of marketing must make the shift. Instead of talking about how great you are, you must appeal to the consumers’ needs and desires. They don’t care if you think you’re great; they care if they can get what they need easily, conveniently, and for a reasonable price. The consumer is human, too; marketers have to make sure they are not faceless. Buyer personas can help you develop a content marketing strategy that works to engage your audience.

What is a buyer persona? It is, to put it simply, your customer. Who are they? What do they want? How do they behave? What motivates them? What do they like and dislike? What traits do they share? Who are the people behind the clicks?  Knowing this helps you develop targeted content that gets to the heart of what your audience needs. A CEO does not need the same information as a CFO; a CFO doesn’t need the same information as an accounts payable person, who doesn’t need the same thing as a stylist or a mechanic…you get the idea.

Building a Buyer Persona

First, gather the available demographic data – how old is your target audience? Are they professionals? Are they working class? Are they students?  These are basic; after you answer these, delve further:

  • For a persona – say, for instance, working mothers or tech-savvy 20 somethings – ask: what is this persona’s most important activities or jobs? What challenges face these people? How do your products relate to issues facing them?
  • Determine, for each persona, what they aspire to be. Where do they want to go in life, or in a career? Again, how can your products or services facilitate these aspirations? What are their problems in relation to your solution?
  • How does this persona typically gather information (online, word of mouth, etc.)?  What type of information might they be most receptive to (video, blogs, articles, whitepapers, etc.)?
  • What is motivating these people to find a solution to a problem or current need?

After you map out what you know about the various personas whom you might be interested in reaching, it is a good idea to create a “buyer persona map” to help you develop content in an effective way.

Building a Buyer Persona Map

Don’t be intimidated; you don’t have to create some sort of high-tech infographic. This could be a simple spreadsheet or even a table that you create in Word. The goal is to list content pieces you are creating for a given period, the format (whitepaper, podcast, etc.), and the buyer personas to which this content is targeted. It might look like this, for instance:

Content Piece Format Buyer Persona
How to Create a Buyer Persona Blog Post Marketers
Top 10 Reasons to Use Google Webmaster Tools Infographic SEOs and Webmasters
Writing Code that No One Understands But Everyone Will Love Whitepaper Web Developers

We might look at our content, which is all mapped out, and say, “Oh, it seems like we have a huge gap and did not create any content that is geared towards small business owners, which is one of our buyer personas, or geeky college students, which is another, or genius 12 year olds, which is another.”  Then you’d circle back and develop content that is intended for those markets.

A buyer persona is meant to humanise the buyer and to remind us that our own products and services are the centre of no one’s universe but ours. If we would like others to buy in to them, we have to give them a reason, and we do that most effectively by addressing their needs and concerns.

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