Fact: at the foundation of every successful B2B content marketing strategy will be a buyer persona. Personas help you structure your content around specific prospect pains, enabling you to create focussed and relevant content marketing.
While most B2B marketers will agree with this viewpoint, when it comes to actually choosing an effective persona, the water can become a lot murkier. An ineffective persona can be just as bad or even worse than not having a persona at all.
A one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work
Some marketers believe that they can only have one persona and that all their content marketing needs to be focussed to the needs of this persona. However, this is simply not the case. In many instances, the buyer’s journey for your company will be complex and will involve several different team members.
For example, in our sales cycle, we discovered that directors, marketing managers and in some instances, junior marketers were involved in the decision process and were actively reading our content. While top-line content focussed on business results will resonate better with directors, content that focuses on how to implement marketing tactics, such as ‘how-to’ guides, will suit marketing managers better. It’s therefore essential for us to have multiple personas, so we can create content that covers all bases of our readership.
Base personas on generalisations, not actual people
When developing buyer personas, you will start to identify emerging patterns among your existing customers and prospects. However, a persona is only a semi-fictional representation of your customers, not an actual individual. A persona that is based on one person may not be a true representation of the rest of your customers, meaning that your content will struggle to engage a large proportion of your prospects.
Your sales-facing colleagues should be able to inform you on typical prospect traits, so your content remains relevant and focussed.
Choose a niche persona
On the other-hand, choosing a persona that is too broad, will result in content that struggles to solve specific pains. For example, say your company sells ERP software to manufacturers, with the majority of your buyers being finance directors.
Using a broad persona, such as a finance director in a large organisation, wouldn’t be specific enough to be able to create targeted content. The processes involved in manufacturing differ greatly from other industries. In the B2B space, prospects are spoiled for choice when it comes to available content. If they struggle to identify the immediate value in your content marketing, they will seek a competitor who can solve their industry-specific pains.
Choose a detailed persona
When it comes to buyer persona research, the level of detail can never be enough. While the typical persona traits such as job role, pains and job history are of course, very important – don’t neglect the smaller details.
Hobbies, age and education level can have a significant impact on your content. For example, age can affect the amount of technology knowledge held by personas. An older persona is likely to be more experienced in their field and will be more receptive to straight-to-the point content marketing. However, they may also be pessimistic and less familiar with new technologies, requiring more nurturing content before they get on board with your service offering.
Personas are not simply a box-ticking exercise – they need to be used consistently throughout your content marketing activity. It’s therefore vital that you get the foundations of a persona right. With our latest in-depth guide, you can learn how to create the perfect persona and how to implement this into your B2B content marketing.