In this practical, informative white paper, you'll learn:

  • What are Buyer Personas and why is it important?
  • How personas will support your overall content strategy?
  • How do you gather information and put a buyer persona into action?

Who are your customers? Seriously, what are their names, where do they live, what do they do, and most importantly, what are their problems? Further, why does it matter? Well you see, savvy businesses like to play this game: who is going to buy my product? For these smart and successful companies, the answer comes in the form of buyer personas (aka your perfect customers).

At this point, you’ve probably heard of buyer personas. You likely know they’re supposed to be helpful… and yet, you still haven’t created any for your business. If you’re like many businesses, you may have run into one or two roadblocks:

  • Roadblock 1: You aren’t fully convinced that buyer personas are important enough to warrant your time
  • Roadblock 2: You don’t know how exactly to create one

The goal here is to knock down both these barriers so you can start receiving the powerful benefits that well-done buyer personas can bring to your overall content marketing strategy, and in turn, your business.

First Things First – What are Buyer Personas?

Here’s how HubSpot defines them:

A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers.

More, a buyer persona is a representation of a consumer that merges your existing customers and your target customers. The personas you create for your business help you navigate your audience’s pain points, their habits, and gives you the information necessary to engage them where they’re at. Basically, you have the potential to become a mind reader that address issues and offer solutions before your customers even realize it’s what they’re looking for.

Buyer personas aren’t limited to one person but can be created for each target audience by looking at who is investing in each particular product or service. You’re able to tailor your marketing efforts and solve specific problems and meet your consumers’ needs.

Okay, So Why do I Need Buyer Personas?

Simply put, the leads you create by producing content based on buyer personas are richer, more targeted, and attract visitors who are most likely to become customers. Buyer personas can also drive product development and help businesses focus their time and energy.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. How do you expect to sell products or services without connecting to customers? The short answer: You can’t. In fact, a large percentage of your sales are representative of only a few personas, which means it doesn’t take much to figure out who your customers are.

In addition to focusing your marketing efforts, buyer personas also allow you to:

  • Create compelling content and offers that speak to your audience
  • Gives you a starting point to talk about who your customers are, what they want, and how they behave
  • Lets you have the ability to outline what each step of your buyer’s journey looks like, and then create an experience that drives sales more effectively
  • Gives you the tools to interact with your customers and identify what platforms they’re using
  • Aligns your various departments and helps them to produce strategies that better support the business as a whole

All of these benefits can power the identity and growth of your company. But there’s another all-important benefit to further discuss: How personas will support your overall content strategy.

A Quick Example of a Buyer Persona in Action

You can utilize the personas you’ve generated to create your content. But how do you do that? Think of the content as a conversation or telling a story to a specific person. It’s something you know they like, and delivered in a way they want to hear, see, or read it.

An example:

If you are writing for Sarah Soccer Mom, who lacks time and self-care in her frenzy to get her three school-aged kids from point A to point B, plus works and does the bulk of the home care, how do you talk to her? Let’s say the data tells you she wants simple, visual, clean, savvy, and succinct content that helps her save time and energy.

Sarah Soccer Mom likes “hacks” and “how-tos. She wants some wit, and a voice that sympathizes with the plight of the modern mom and says, “you do enough.” She looks at Pinterest and Instagram, but adores Facebook. However, Sarah feels inadequate in comparison to the self-proclaimed super moms—and she wants to be empowered and acknowledged for what she does do. Secretly, she wants people to think she’s a supermom too!

The power of that persona allows a business to alter their voice and tone to hit a home run with Sarah Soccer Mom.

So, let’s say you run a small, local grocery store. You’re offering a new delivery service and you want to reach your target audience, Sarah Soccer Mom. You can create a content campaign that ties together your blog, Facebook, and Instagram.

Create a series of articles on your blog on how to prepare quick, healthy 20-minute meals that allow Sarah Soccer Mom to have family dinners together between numerous activities. You can give recipes, lists of ingredients, and a CTA to have those ingredients delivered. The Facebook teaser can talk about how much time your customers save when they don’t have to go to the market and the amazing things they can do instead. It emphasizes that busy supermoms are worth that small luxury.

Lastly, on your Instagram, display beautiful pictures of home-cooked meals, families on the go, and a mom who found a little relief by having groceries delivered to her door, for a very nominal price (probably the price of gas!). She becomes the hero for her family!

When your posts get liked by the local mom’s group, Sarah Soccer Mom gets swept up—she clicks through to the blog and downloads the recipes. Next thing you know, you have a new customer. The buyer persona has succeeded.

Now that you’ve seen a buyer persona in action and how effective it can be, it’s time to learn how to create them.

Now It’s Your Turn to Create a Buyer Persona

It all starts with attraction. Just like a dating profile, you have to decide who you want to attract, and you can look at your current customers to do just that. Use data, analytics, surveys, customer feedback forms, customer service insight, and more to find out who your current consumers are. Entice them to give their opinion and thoughts with incentives and surveys.

Another term for what you need to do to create your buyer persona is market research. You are researching your market. A quick list of what to look for is:

  • Where do they live
  • What’s their demographic
  • Where do they hang out online
  • What do they buy
  • Why do they buy it
  • What are their problems
  • What solutions are they looking for
  • Where do they work
  • What are their hobbies

You may not be able to gather all the information, but you can get a good picture of who they are by even gathering a small amount of data.

The customer experience gone bad is another source of information. People who give negative reviews have distinctive thoughts on what you’re lacking and can help you shape content by addressing those issues and offering solutions. Negative feedback is just another route to learn more about your product and what challenges it may pose.

Personas for Customers You Don’t Have Yet

Although your existing clients provide a lot of information for your buyer personas, you may have a new group or niche audience you want to attract. To find this information, use industry trends and research your competitors. Use whatever tools you have to determine how to attract these “new” customers and create buyer awareness.

An example:

A business that has an athletic clothing line, and primarily caters to middle-income women who focus on yoga, stroller strides, or the gym. Now the business has a new line of organic athletic garments that are more expensive, so it wants to attract upper-income women who work with personal trainers, go on yoga retreats, and frequent small, exclusive gyms or exercise studios. This buyer persona won’t be based on the current consumer, but customers the company has yet to attract—therefore, they’ll need to discover everything they can about this new buyer.

The company can look at other luxury athletic lines, find the platforms used, and gather data about this high-end market.

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The Small Nuances in Personas are Crucial

In creating buyer personas, you may have only slight differences between customers. However, these nuances are crucial. For example, you’ll need to see the difference between Sarah Soccer Mom and Stay-at-Home Stacy. There will be small tweaks that let you speak directly to your best potential customers. You’ll be able to ask, what kind of product, service, or business would target Sarah Soccer Mom? Maybe a family schedule app, and that grocery delivery service. How about Stacy?

While some of your personas may overlap (both Sarah and Stacy would like that family schedule app), you can also create more targeted content for each of them (Stacy likes to grocery shop, but prefers in-store deals and gourmet recipes).

For each, you’ll need to create content in the venue that will best serve your most valuable visitors, and in the formats they prefer (think blog posts, social media posts, video, visuals, infographics, newsletters, email blasts, listicles, and more).

Putting Your Data into Play: Writing Your Buyer Persona!

Once you’ve gathered all the data necessary, you’ll put together the buyer persona. The more in-depth you go, the more targeted your content can be. Here are the components that are often seen in a buyer persona:

  • Persona Name: Have fun here; some businesses simply use a name, like Joe Smith, while some get witty
  • Demographics: Where do they live, age, gender, salary, education, family size
  • Employment: Where do they work, what do they do, or are they employed
  • Values: What do they believe, what are their causes, etc.
  • Fears: What drives them to make a purchase
  • Goals and Challenges: Come up with a couple goals and challenges (or more!), and how your business’s product or service will help them
  • Sales objections: What puts them off buying
  • Marketing message: What do you want them to know and how will you communicate it to them
  • Elevator pitch: How are you going to sell them

There are several free resources and templates online on how to create a buyer persona if you need extra assistance.

In general, businesses start with three to five buyer personas. You can continue to add as your company expands, grows, or adds new services or products, or if you find a new demographic is becoming interested in you.

After you’ve created these buyer personas, your next step is to put them to work!

The Buyer’s Journey and Generating Stellar, Targeted Content Using Your Personas

Putting your buyer persona into action is all about encouraging the buyer’s journey. The buyer’s journey has three stages: awareness, consideration, decision. You can use your persona to determine where your customers are at in the journey so the content you create is highly targeted. It also helps to understand the journey a little better:

  • Awareness - Here is where your potential customer realizes they have a problem, although it may not be fully defined, your content can help with that definition
  • Consideration - The problem is fully understood, and they are actively seeking a solution
  • Decision - The buyer has found their solution and is ready to purchase

Once you know how each persona moves through the buyer’s journey, you can reach them where they’re at. This means you’ll know what content will speak to them at which stage, and how to present it best to push them through to the purchase. To do that, you also have to make sure you have content specifically designed and targeted toward personas in each stage.

That brings up the question, what types of content will your persona be interested in?

Creating Content Using ToFu, MoFu, and BoFu

The marketing world loves their acronyms. For the buyer’s journey, your content will address three areas: ToFu, MoFu, BoFu. This stands for “Top of the Funnel,” “Middle of the Funnel,” and “Bottom of the Funnel.” The content breaks down like this:

ToFu (Top of the Funnel)

Since your buyers are just gathering awareness, the content that likely speaks best to them are blog posts or articles, or anything educational. Present the various pain points and start pointing them to solutions. You can link to helpful tip sheets, eBooks, and other premium content that supports that you fully understand what their issues are and are experts on the subject. Calls to action (CTAs) are an excellent tool in the ToFu content stage. You can also use the helpful links you provide to gather information from potential customers.

MoFu (Middle of the Funnel)

Here the buyers are actively seeking that solution, so they may want to explore why your product or service is worth it. Here you can further educate, but also gently turn their attention fully to your business. You want to put yourself in the position of a thought leader, an expert, and build credibility. Use content like case studies, whitepapers, videos, industry reports, and seek feedback through quizzes and surveys.

BoFu (Bottom of the Funnel)

The bottom of the funnel should secure the sale. The content should create urgency. Offer a discount, free assessment, or trial—anything that entices them to bite. At this stage, these are your most qualified leads, so engaging them on a personal level is essential.

How to Use Your Buyer Personas in a Content Strategy Session

None of your content can be created without a plan. Now that you understand personas, the buyer’s journey, and content for each stage of that journey, you’ll want to develop a strategy and goals. The more comprehensive you make your plan, the more likely you’ll follow through.

A plan requires sitting down and coming up with a timeline, what tasks you have, and determining ways to implement it.

List out the content you need developed. Some of what you’ll want to create are things like blogs/articles, checklists, tip sheets, whitepapers, case studies, eBooks, webinars, videos, case studies, product demos, buyer’s guides, and reviews.

Brainstorm topics, platforms to share on, and developing content that speaks to and engages the buyers you created personas for. You’ll want to tie it in with your overall content marketing strategy and make an editorial calendar to track and time the production everything.

Set goals, both short-term and long-term, and learn to use tools like analytics so you can assess how each piece of content is doing. You’ll be able to tweak and adapt along the way.

You’ll also want to explore tools that help you automate or that keeps you on top of content creation. Decide where best to allocate your funds. Do you want to use a content service to write your blogs, whitepapers, and case studies? Do you want them to generate the topics, titles, and keywords for you? Be realistic about the amount of skill and time you have. For many businesses, time is best spent on the tasks they specialize in—and if content isn’t a part of that, outsourcing some of that work can give you the ability to focus on what you excel at.

Buyer Personas: A Powerful Part of Your Marketing Toolkit

Buyer personas can set off a whole chain of conversations within your business and content marketing ideas. They offer incredible insight that allows you to spend your valuable time and money creating content that will accomplish your goals. It’s not always easy to learn a new tool or implement an unfamiliar technique, but to remain valid, successful, and grow in today’s world, it’s crucial to evolve both your business and the ways you market it.