You must provide your readers with the information they want and need if you’re going to be heard above the constant drone of digital content. Buyer personas are the tools that will allow you to create the best, most accurate content. But once you’ve created your personas, what do you do with them? How do you take a profile of a possible customer and use it to create effective content? How else can you use them within your business?
1. Plot the course of your content strategy
Establish a hierarchy of your buyer personas before you create content for your personas. Deciding how much attention to dedicate to each persona will dictate how you approach your strategy, as different readers are drawn to different kinds of content. When and how they search for that information varies as well, so it’s important to consider every angle.
The personas you have will guide you to the right content for your digital marketing strategy. Consider what content each persona would be more likely to engage with and what they’d ignore. If your company requires a mix of B2C and B2B marketing, your B2C readers will want to read blogs and watch videos while the B2B crowd might prefer whitepapers and case studies. This same logic can be applied for any group of personas. Make a note within each profile of their core content strategy. Knowing which types of content to use for each persona is just the first step.
Each persona will also require a specific level of attention, which means you won’t be producing an equal amount of content for each one. For example, with B2B marketing, an executive may not be reading your blog daily, where a lower-level employee is more likely to seek out information you can provide. So, you’d want a larger percentage of your content to appeal to the latter persona, but still pepper in blog posts and videos that will catch the eye of the exec.
Plotting out your content strategy in advance guarantees you have the right amount of coverage for each persona. And now that you know which types of content you need to produce, and how often you should be publishing, it’s time to figure out when, from time of day to day of the month, to distribute your work. Determining how and when to schedule the different content types will depend on who your personas are. Their personal information, such as hobbies and interests, can shed some light on when they’re most likely to visit your blog.
Say you’re posting one written blog a day, and most of your content will focus on the lower-level persona. You can write content for that audience during the workweek and then target the exec in blogs posted on a Saturday or Sunday. Vice presidents and C-level types are more likely to take their work home with them and catch up on industry news during the weekend, when they aren’t running from meeting to meeting.
2. Build content around your personas
Answer common questions your buyers might have.
Odds are building out your personas may have tipped you off to some common questions and concerns each might have. Use these questions to start developing ideas for everything from your blog, social posts, videos and graphics to longer-term projects like whitepapers, webinars and case studies. List them out and see if there are any themes among them. You may be able to produce a video or blog series around a core idea, which can be a great way to encourage readers to spend more time on your site.
After getting the initial ideas down on paper, approach the same internal teams you interviewed to create the personas and start asking more questions. Rather than focusing on who each persona is, you’ll want to discuss the common problems they have and questions they ask. Being able to reference the persona will keep the conversation on track and give you specific feedback for each profile.
Fine-tune the voice you use for each type of reader.
Your content must be crafted for the reader, and when you’re appealing to different personas, that means you will need to develop different styles along with them. Just as you now know which types of content appeal to each persona, the same details will reveal the best tone and voice to use. Any stylistic choices, such as whether to use second or third-person, should be tracked along with the persona for future reference.
Keep in mind that your brand takes priority here, but there are ways to make minor adjustments for your audience without drowning out your brand voice. If your company has a very personable approach to the branding, and the majority of your marketing efforts take on a casual tone, you won’t want to stray too far from that style, even if one of your personas is an enterprise CEO. To find a mix of professionalism and your own brand for this reader, you could keep the style of blog posts for this reader in second person (by addressing them directly, as I have in this very article), which will keep you on brand. The content, on the other hand, is where you will want to provide more in-depth, high-level information that will appeal to that specific audience.
Dig deeper into the nuances of developing content for audience personas.
3. Check in often to keep personas running
You spent time and effort creating your personas, so it’d be nice to think they’ll be accurate for years, if not indefinitely. Unfortunately, this is not a static tool. It will shift and warp and grow, and if you don’t stay on top of each persona, they’ll quickly become obsolete. This is not something you need to revisit every week, or even monthly. A good rule of thumb to ensure the most accurate personas is to update them every six months. Over time, your personas profiles will become less accurate due to:
- Shifts in the industry (think: new technology).
- Internal business changes.
- New or discontinued products and services.
How often you need to update your personas will vary depending on your industry. Some, especially those based in technology, are going to shift rapidly, while others may not see drastic changes near as often. Use the six-month guideline as a jumping-off point, and adjust it as needed to suit your business.
4. Integrate personas across departments
Though the main reason we create personas is to strengthen our content marketing strategies, these audience profiles have benefits beyond digital marketing. Primarily, you’ll want to share the information with your internal teams. They likely helped you develop each persona, whether they collaborated with you during the building stages or filled out questionnaires. Showing them the fruits of their labor can provide you with further insight and feedback, and give them a tool to propel their own strategies.
Sharing personas can help you
Sharing the finished products with the salespeople, customer service reps, account managers and any other client-facing departments allows you to gauge how accurately the personas depict each target buyer group. If you missed the mark on anything, your internal teams will be able to point out where you got off course and guide you back on track.
And don’t forget that change is inevitable. Markets shift, business models are altered and people change too. If your teams are familiar with the personas, they’ll be even better equipped to offer insights when it comes time to revisit and refresh your personas. When your teams know the personas, they can help you determine if that schedule is right for your company or if adjustments are necessary.
Your internal teams will benefit too
Personas offer more than the ability to help direct your content strategy. Your client-facing teams can put them to work to bolster their efforts. In particular, personas will come in especially handy when training new employees. Having access to detailed overviews of the typical clients will help new hires get acclimated and be more prepared as they begin their work.
SALES: A salesperson preparing a pitch for an operations manager can use the manager persona to guide their presentation to appeal to that client. The sales team might even want to create templates based around each different persona, so they have an arsenal of assets to choose from once they know who they’ll be meeting with.
CUSTOMER SERVICE: Customer service representatives can use personas similarly, as familiarizing themselves with the different people they may encounter will help them adjust how they handle individual inquiries.
ACCOUNT MANAGEMENT: If you are selling a service, odds are you’ve also got account managers who work with your customers past the initial sale. These employees may appreciate having a bit of background on the type of person they’re working with before jumping on a kick-off call or jetting out to an in-person meeting.
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