Customer insights are vital for creating differentiated and focused messaging that resonates uniquely with your target audience in today’s crowded marketing channels. All too often, we adopt a seemingly rational content approach, only to wonder where the logic failed when the messaging doesn’t connect as intended. One key to developing useful customer insights of real value is to gain a deeper understanding of your target buyer through the proper development of buyer personas.
To be clear, personas are not customer profiles. Rather, personas are archetypes of your ideal buyer, generated from real data (ideally gathered directly from buyers themselves) and some measure of careful inference. Well-constructed personas will accurately reveal buyer behaviors, motivations, influences, priorities, challenges, and goals – all critical things to know when developing messaging that must resonate with your target audience. Gaining such insight and knowing what kind of information will attract the audience, as well as where they will seek it and in what forms they prefer to consume it, is the core of a successful content marketing program.
Here’s an example of how a persona might influence messaging:
Company XYZ has a cool new app that can help drive awareness and leads for technology companies. It has a customizable human interface and, because it will be highly visible, it can also help bolster branding efforts. The thought is that it should be of great interest to CMO’s and they are deemed the most appropriate decision maker. Consequently, XYZ builds a persona around a technology CMO. It indicates that the CMO’s key goals include:
- Generating growth (new solutions, new markets, new audiences)
- Helping drive the company’s big data initiatives
The persona creates an impression of someone who is far more business-oriented than technology-focused. The expectation is that technology CMOs will take on more responsibility to help define and implement the big data strategy, as well as use that data to help drive revenue and growth. This CMO is not seen as researching the latest web design, PR or branding thought-leadership articles. Rather, XYZ’s persona work indicates that their target buyer is looking to analytics and database companies for information.
Prior to the persona work, a reasonable content approach for XYZ might have been to promote their app’s support for branding. Yet the persona work indicates clearly that the target CMO’s needs and interests lie elsewhere. To interest their buyer marketing will need to explain not only the app’s lead-generation capabilities, but also how data from the app can support the big data requirements.
But is this enough? There are numerous vendors offering to help with lead gen. And can a new “lead-gen app” be a serious contender in the big-data league? The reality is that it will be hard to get a CMOs attention without being able to provide some new business insights. For example, XYZ can showcase the app’s value by featuring the following insights: that the app helps attract new audiences and can help the CMO’s company, both in new business growth, as well as through the collection of valuable data. Making the explicit connection between the new-markets data and its value in new product development, can provide a unique way to engage. Recognizing that CMOs are usually not trained technologists, a successful content strategy might also support the need for a better understanding of big data and its practical applications.
Such insights will help render XYZ’s content much more valuable to their target audience, creating a differentiated appeal. Yet without the persona work, XYZ’s marketers might have been left scratching their heads, perplexed as to why their app wasn’t resonating with its intended market. The moral of the story is clear: developing detailed personas, with data sourced directly from your buyers, can provide you with customer insights which simply aren’t imaginable until you understand the nuances motivating and influencing your target audience.
One approach to gathering customer insights is using a carefully crafted prospect survey. Oracle | Eloqua, the marketing automation company, surveyed marketers in companies outside of their traditionally targeted technology segments to learn what marketing solutions were being used by companies in the financial services and manufacturing segments, including their level of satisfaction and what marketing initiatives they had planned. Learn more by reading the Oracle | Eloqua Case Study.