Personas play a crucial role in creating targeted content

LIsa Vitale marketing GuruPersonas play a crucial role in creating targeted content

At some point you have probably created a buyer persona – a description or definition of your marketing audience. But, are you among those who feel that creating a “persona” is a time sink when you already know your target audience?

Some marketers may believe that the time and effort needed to create a persona is better spent elsewhere, considering how many other tasks need attention.

But, writes Jodi Harris of the Content Marketing Institute, “Without personas, you may only be guessing what content your audience wants.” The creation of documented personas will help you focus on a company-wide version of the truth for everyone creating content for your organization.

Too familiar?

Most companies stick with the familiar when creating content marketing. They know their own company and what it does best. However, that might not be what the client is looking for.

Today in the world of the B2B audience, you need to offer quick, relevant and spot-on information or you may be overlooked. The persona – and the exercise of creating it – helps you and everyone in your company focus on your ideal audience and what it wants to know about you.

Harris offers tips and a nifty template for building your persona. First, ask yourself who is your ideal customer. Ask what are that person’s specific roles and responsibilities in relation to your organization’s buying cycle. How does he access information (online or mobile device?) How does she social network?

What are buyers thinking?

A buyer persona tells you what prospective customers are thinking and doing as their weigh their options to address a problem your company is solving, according to Adele Revella, CEO and founder of the Buyer Persona Institute and author of the book Buyer Personas: How to Gain Insight into your Customer’s Expectations, Align your Marketing Strategies, and Win More Business.

man_thinkingThe persona is a profile of the person you need to influence, Revella says, and it reveals insights about your buyers’ decisions, their attitudes, concerns and criteria. When you can be this specific, you can target your actionable marketing decisions to meet your buyers’ expectations.

“The ROI is this simple: When you know how to help buyers evaluate your approach on their own terms, you build a bond of trust that competitors can’t match,” Revella says.

Taking the time to create personas provides the opportunity to take a hard look at what is and isn’t working with the way your company is now creating content and interacting with your customer. You can correct misconceptions and help your staff better deal with negative outcomes.

So if marketing personas are so valuable, why do some companies who have them not use them?

From useless to useful

“Marketers are keeping buyer personas in the closet,” writes Artdath Albee, in a blog that was republished by the Content Marketing Institute. Sad to say, many personas she’s viewed were unusable in a complex B2B sales process.

“For personas to become useful tools, they must be based on interviews gathered from salespeople, customer service interactions and the buyers (customers) themselves,” Albee says. Those interviews, she adds, must be based on what the buyer is trying to achieve and what is driving change: “In essence, personas must help us identify how we can help buyers manage and expedite change. That’s really what buying is all about.”

Still, conducting those interviews may be beyond the limits of what a marketing organization can physically accomplish. That’s where prospect surveys come in. Utilizing the skills of a professional team skilled in the art of these surveys can produce account intelligence and insights that are crucial for creating a persona that works.