How to Use Buyer Personas to Create Valuable Content Marketing

how to use buyer personas in content marketing
There’s no middle-ground in content marketing. Our strategy either works, or it fails; people either care about our writing, or they don’t give a damn.
Our content is either valuable, or worthless.
Buyer personas are the key to creating valuable content. They’re vital to visitors caring about our brand, and completely essential to our marketing success – and I’m about to illustrate the right way to use them to inform your content marketing strategy.

Treasure and Trash

Content marketing is based upon exchange. We set out to acquire the time and interest of potential customers, and in exchange, offer them something valuable. Visitors are more likely to engage with our business, trust our brand, and even buy from us, if they’ve benefited from our content.
Unfortunately, one man’s treasure is another man’s trash – and what benefits one website visitor might not benefit another. Defining a target audience is rarely straight-forward, and even the simplest of businesses will have several buyer personas. It’s impossible to create genuine value with a broad-brush approach to marketing – so we need to develop separate content for each.

4 Channels of Value

With that in mind, we can focus on creating distinct value for each of our personas. Buyer personas offer a wealth of information, and we can use these insights to create value through four channels:

  1. Solve a problem: The more information we have about a target audience, the more pain points we can identify. Workplace information, demographic data and personal beliefs all allow us to recognize the potential problems that might affect our visitor on a day-to-day basis. If our content solves these problems, we create immediate value, trust and gratitude.
  2. Tailor content to the marketing funnel: These pain points will vary according to a persona’s position in the marketing funnel. Someone in the attract stage will have questions very different to a sales-qualified lead – with the former valuing a basic product guide or FAQ, and the latter, perhaps an in-depth case study.
  3. Elicit an emotion: If we can trigger an emotional response, we’ve created value. Our pain points go some way towards addressing the fears of our audience; but we can also elicit curiosity (10 Surprising Facts…), passionate responses (The 10 Greatest…), and by tackling controversial topics, dear to our persona’s heart, even anger.
  4. Write empathetic content: Some of the greatest value comes from empathy – showing our audience that we understand, and even share, their needs. As well as creating problem-solving content, we can tailor our writing, voice and images to heighten this connection. Speak directly to the audience, and try and place them in the article: use quotes, case studies, examples and pictures from people that fit their buyer persona.

Talk to Everyone, Speak to No-one

Many marketers try to write content that appeals to everyone; and in doing so, write content that appeals to no-one. Value is an inherently personal thing, and varies from person-to-person – and any content that doesn’t recognize that will end-up vague and useless.
Buyer personas come close to capturing personal value, and afford us an insight into the issues that affect, motivate and scare our audience. Armed with this information, we shouldn’t be afraid of writing specialized content. Though we might alienate a few people with a highly-targeted piece, those we do attract will find it resonates strongly and genuinely with their needs. This resonance is crucial to continued engagement with our business, the fostering of trust, and our end goal of conversion.
Value is the currency that fuels effective content marketing – and without a clear understanding of who our audience is, and what they care about, we can’t hope to create that value. Buyer personas offer us an insight into our target audience, and allow us to create content that matters – and the more value we can add to our audience, the more we can expect back in return.
[question]Guest blogger Ryan Law writes killer content for some of the brightest and best digital agencies around. When he’s not freelancing, he’s usually working on his content marketing blog, lifting heavy things, or playing a mean guitar. Read more of his great stuff on the Contender Content blog.[/question]

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