A Changing World
B2B Marketing has become an inbound world. Requiring a new set of skills and talents, which revolve around content creation. In my opinion, we are entering a new phase of evolution. Marketers today must build an effective content engine designed to deliver compelling insights to customers and prospects alike. Core to success is the development of a buyer persona-based content marketing strategy.
Why Buyer Personas
Since creating the first methodology for buyer persona development more than 10 years ago, I have strongly advocated their use in informing strategy. This is most applicable today when it comes to content marketing strategy. Having a deeper understanding of who your buyers are and acquiring deep insight into their goals and challenges leads to effective content creation. The first step is to commit to getting this deeper insight through qualitative buyer research. A challenge for most companies today. Yet a necessary step to move from a shotgun approach to a targeted content game plan.
Developing a buyer persona-based content marketing strategy consists of six important components. These components help to shape a buyer-persona-based content marketing strategy:
- Ideal Customer Profile: Getting a handle on such attributes as company size, geography, revenue, number of employees, and other attributes relevant to target segmentation is a foundational building block.
- Buyer Personas: Performing qualitative research and developing archetypes of buyers are critical to informing content strategy. The number of buyer personas needed varies. However, identifying buyer personas via buyer behaviors, distinctive goals, and roles within buying teams serve as guideposts.
- Buyer Context: If content was king last year, context will be queen this year. It is important to understand the contextual situation of your buyers. Here are four areas to focus in on:
- Triggers – the events which create a compelling need for a solution
- Initiatives – longer term goals buyers are looking to achieve
- Challenges – market, customer, or organizational challenges that have no readily apparent easy answer yet needs resolution
- Issues – business issues that are addressable by your solutions and contribute towards growth and improved profitability
- Compelling Topics: Generating a steady stream of relevant topics is what I hear as the most pressing challenge in content creation. The prior step of buyer contextual understanding becomes critical to getting this right. There are bound to be a multitude of topics related to each of the four areas mentioned.
- Commercial Insight: Mapping the value propositions of your products and solutions to buyer personas, buyer context, and compelling topics is bridged by offering commercial insight. This mapping process is no easy feat. Buyers today could care less about the extolled virtues of your products and solutions. If you can deliver commercial insights on how and why – the value proposition – your products and solutions help them, then you have given a buyer a reason to engage.
- Content Preference: As potential buyers research issues, challenges, and solutions, content preferences begin to materialize. Understanding these preferences comes out of qualitative research and getting to know your buyer personas. In today’s modern world of marketing, creating a content generation platform that is integrated is a new imperative. How to tie together the preferences of buyers to receive information and insight through web pages, social media, video, tradeshows, and sales interaction are going to put your puzzle skills to test.
The Content Strategy Workflow
What I am proposing here is pulling out the pick and shovel to start digging through each of the above components. Modern marketing of today requires new outward-in thinking. This approach will get you headed in this direction. It starts and ends with the buyer.
These six components amount to a content marketing strategy workflow. This workflow offers a means to help you create as well as operationalize content marketing strategy. I would like to offer some help. After you finish reading this article, download the Content Strategy Workflow Tool. It outlines these six steps for you. A caveat is needed at this point. I am not promising that a tool alone will provide an instant answer. This is hard work. Having the end game in sight though gets your teams focused on the most important components.
As we evolve new skills and talents in modern marketing, content creation is at the top of the list of those much needed. These start with understanding your buyers. The situations they find themselves in and the issues they care about are the mile markers needed to be relevant to buyers. Finding the right topics that enable both the online and the offline conversation is no longer an ad-hoc proposition.
A purposeful as well as buyer persona-based strategy will get your content engine revving and running smoothly.
(To get started, be sure to download The Content Strategy Workflow Tool below)