If you've ever tried talking with someone who doesn't seem to listen to you, you know how annoying it can be. You try to make a point, but they just run over it like a steamroller and talk about something that interests them.
Why is this so frustrating? Because, even if they don't mean to, these people send the message, "I only care about me. I don't care about you. You don't matter."
No one likes hearing this. Especially not potential clients--after all, why give money to someone who doesn't respect you? That's why it's so important to understand buyer personas and the buyer's journey--it helps you create content that tells customers, "We understand you, we value you and we have what you need."
To communicate effectively, you need to know whom you're trying to reach. You'd think this would go without saying, but far too often, marketers, content creators, and other business-people seem to forget this simple truth.
Lots of times, website content reads like a big banner ad. It boasts how wonderful a company's products/services are, but it doesn't factor in how that product or service can make it's potential clients' lives wonderful--or happier, or less stressed, or how it can help them reach their goals.
At this point, some of you may think, "Hey, wait a minute! We know what our customers want! We've been working with people for years! We know how to talk to them!"
If thoughts like these popped into your head, great! You're in a position to leverage your existing client base and attract even more business. If you don't have a lot of customers right now, don't fret--you can still get information from the ones you do have to fine-tune your content and messaging. As you gain more clients, you can make adjustments and improvements. You'll even continue to profile additional types of customers as you learn the nuances between your various buying groups.
How can you do all of this? By doing two things:
Basically, buyer personas are kind of like a composite character. You start by looking for common characteristics that your existing customers share and use those traits to build a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer. These buyer personas then give you a foundation and focus for all your content marketing efforts.
You build buyer personas by getting information on people who've already bought your products/services.
The more information you can get on your customers, the more details you can add to your personas. And the more details you have, the more you can tailor your content to resonate with them.
You've probably had moments in your life where you seemed to meet just the right person at just the right moment. Whether it was a new friend or romantic interest; a career mentor or someone in your professional network, whoever they were, they gave you exactly what you needed at that particular time.
Creating and refining your buyer personas helps you be that right person for your customers. And understanding the phases of the buyer's journey and creating content that is customized to each stage, helps them find you at that seemingly serendipitous moment.
In order for your potential customers to find value in your content, it needs to align with the stage they've reached. People don't want to read stuff about pricing and technical data when they haven't even figured out their problem yet. Conversely, they don't need your help discovering they have a problem if they're weighing solutions.
After you've built your personas, the next step is to perform a content audit. Go through all the content on your website, including basic website pages, blog posts, and content offers such as ebooks, whitepapers, or even free trials. Map each piece of content to your a persona (or personas) and to which stage of the buyer's journey it will best serve. The first thing you'll notice is where you have holes in your content. For example, you don't want to get someone all the way to the decision stage but not have a compelling landing page on which to convert them to a lead for your sales team. You'll want to use this content audit to inform your upcoming campaigns and make sure you are putting effort into creating content across all stages of the buyer's journey.
Assembling buyer personas and figuring out which stage of the buyer's journey they've reached can be challenging. It involves gathering and organizing a lot of information. Even seasoned marketers can have a hard time figuring out the pieces they need and how they all fit together. That's one reason we created a campaign planning tool that will help you launch that next inbound campaign that will reach personas you may have neglected and target your content to the stages of the buyer's journey where it will have the most impact.