Embarking on a content marketing initiative requires the production of a steady stream of content. Determining what content to produce is the most frequently encountered challenge and one that can ground your content marketing efforts before they have chance to take off. So what should you write about?
In the past it was easy, businesses could write about a combination of their products or services, a couple of 'solutions' and a few customer case studies in order to sell their wares. Now, businesses need to produce content that is actually for (not aimed at) their customer. And that content has to meet their needs.
Sounds easy, but it rarely is. And that's why personas are so helpful.
So what are personas, anyway?
Personas are realistic, yet somewhat fictional, representations of your ideal customers. You build a persona through a combination of research, inferred knowledge and a bit of educated guesswork.
Advice is wide ranging as to what your buyer personas should include and the more complete they are the better. At the very least, a persona should include industry, job title, basic demographics, key challenges and preferred information sources. Additional information on responsibilities, objectives, organisation size/structure, role in the buying process, etc. is all useful.
The key to your content plan
The critical piece of information however is the persona's key challenges. From their key challenges you can derive their needs. From their needs you can derive exactly what sort of content they will digest, and thus begin planning the content you will produce.
If your buyer persona has three key challenges, you can immediately define a range of pressing needs, probably nine at least. Each need can then be broken down into byte sized topics for blog posts, while broader themes can be used to drive content offers lower down the lead funnel.
Creating buyer personas gives your whole organisation a personality, and a name, to build content for - It's much easier to ask 'does this content appeal to Accountant Anna' or 'Biz Dev Bob' than it is to reference vague, or even specific, definitions of buyer needs - and, if maintained and updated, they should always provide the inspiration for new content when you need it.