You can sell the same eco-friendly sneakers to your brother and your daughter, but they’re going to buy from you in completely different ways.
This is because your brother and your daughter belong to two different buyer categories, based on specific needs, interests and behaviors—what marketers call buyer personas. For example, your daughter may be quickly convinced after seeing an influencer on Instagram wearing the sneakers, while your brother requires more convincing, such as multiple benefit-oriented ads followed by a limited-time discount.
Buyer personas (also called marketing personas) represent your ideal customers, whether that’s customers who share your beliefs, are passionate about your products, spend the most money, etc. Yet no matter what “ideal” looks like to your company, even ideal customers have distinctive traits that motivate them to make a purchase.
The good news is, when you group your customers into buyer personas, you can understand how they think, what answers they seek, and the path they tend to take to find a solution—and create content in line with those attributes. But how do we use that information to build a content strategy that maps content to the various stages of the buyer journey?
Let’s begin by learning how to create personas, and then we’ll move on to the content portion.
How to Create Buyer Personas
When you’re first starting out, you’ll want to create just one or two different buyer personas. This will keep it simple, and you can always develop more personas later as you learn more about your audience.
1. Evaluate Your Current Customer Base
You can learn a lot about the ideal customer by looking at information you already have about your own customers. What do they have in common? Do you notice any trends, like typical time it takes to purchase, or similar problems they’re trying to solve? Consider sending a survey to gather information on the behaviors, interests and pain points of your customers. Or, conduct interviews with your best customers to uncover shared attributes. You might even question a customer you had a bad experience with, to determine where your approach fell short.
2. Group Customers by Similarities
Once you’ve done your research and gained insights about your customers, you can start to organize them into groups. Since you’re just creating one or two personas to start, it’s easiest to group by the most common similarities. For example, if most of your product is sold along the western and eastern coasts of the U.S., you could create personas for West Coast and East Coast. The idea here is to personalize content to these individual audiences, whether it’s the vernacular you use in messaging or different cultural/social information about these regions.
3. Associate Personas With Real People
It’s easier to create content for buyer personas when you assign names to them. West Coast William or East Coast Evelyn gives identity to your personas, so you better understand whom you’re speaking to, as you create content.
How to Create Content for Buyer Personas
Now that you’ve narrowed down your buyer personas to one or two groups, you can determine the right types of content to serve each group. This means understanding the typical buyer’s journey, because different types of content are going to be more useful in some parts of the journey than in others.
Here’s what the typical buyer journey looks like:
Awareness Stage: Buyer recognizes he/she has a problem and looks for solutions, resources, and education.
Consideration Stage: Buyer tries to solve the problem by evaluating various options, including heavier research to determine if your product is the right fit for them.
Decision Stage: Buyer figures out what it takes to become a customer; this is where they decide whether or not to make a purchase.
Keep in mind that not all funnels will look the same. B2B customers, for example, tend to spend more time in the consideration stage, so they’ll require more nurturing and handholding. B2C customers usually do not spend as much time in this stage, unless they’re considering a new car purchase or something of greater value. Then again, price isn’t everything, as a $10-per-month software subscription probably takes more consideration than a $10 pair of sunglasses.
But which types of content do you need for each stage of the journey? Here’s how content typically falls under each category:
- In the Awareness stage, customers are just looking for answers to their questions. They’re seeing what’s out there, so this is your opportunity to be their educational guide. A video tutorial can illustrate how your product solves a common problem of theirs.
- In the Consideration stage, customers are pursuing solutions more seriously. They know their options, and now they’re looking for which products are the best fit (and which ones aren’t). This is your chance to position yourself as an expert in your industry. A case study gives your product credibility, and tells the audience not only how your product solves a problem, but that another customer has proven such.
- In the Decision stage, customers are ready to make a decision and are looking for ways to make it happen. This is your opportunity to offer up free trials, demos or downloads to bring them into your circle.
No matter what your buyer personas or your sales funnel looks like, it’s critical to the success of your company that you understand how to create content that works together with each one. Once you have clearly-defined personas in place, it will be easy to identify what content aligns with which buyer (and similarly, it will be clear when content isn’t a right fit at all).
When you understand your buyers and their paths to purchase, you can build a strong content strategy that reaches the right people, at the right time, with exactly the right message. For a deeper look into developing buyer personas, take a look at Simplilearn’s Digital & Social Selling Certified Associate training course, which covers the buyer’s journey extensively from the views of both marketing and sales. Or, for a deeper focus on content and how to align it to each type of customer, check out the Advanced Content Marketing Certification Training.