3 Advanced Tactics for Better Buyer Personas

February 23, 2015 | Dan Trefethen

As marketers, we’re always working to build deeper relationships with our audience. How can we learn what makes them tick? How can we build stuff they love and encourage them to come back to our website, social networks, or events day after day?

To do all that, we really need to know who they are as people. We might think of B2B as selling “business to business,” but as we love to say around here, it’s all just human-to-human (do I sound like a broken record yet?).

If you’ve started developing buyer personas, you’re well on your way to matching your marketing up with your audience’s specific needs and interests.

But the typical behavioral and demographic data you collect when building buyer personas might not be enough. Today, we’ll dig a little deeper into advanced tactics for building buyer personas that will make them even more powerful in guiding your content marketing decisions.

1. Learn Their Information Consumption Habits

Where do your prospects go for information? What blogs do they read? Do they keep up to date on current events with TV, newspapers, or Twitter?

Corey Eridon of Hubspot wrote, “If you’re going to market and sell to these personas, you need to understand how they consume information. Do they go online, or do they prefer to learn in-person or by reading newspapers and magazines? If they’re online learners, do they visit social networks? To Google? Which sources do they trust the most; friends, family, coworkers, or industry experts? If you know how they prefer to gather information, you can make yourself present in those spots and work on establishing credibility in those communities.”

In this age of information overload and emphasis on ROI, placing your content and paid media only in those places where you know your target audience will see them. Knowing their favorite sites or industry publications lets you hone in on the advertising or guest blogging markets that will be most lucrative in terms of leads and sales pipeline.

And it’s not just where they go for information – it’s how they get there. As Barbra Gago wrote for Content Marketing Institute, “With the web and mobile apps giving consumers and B2B buyers access to any kind of information at anytime, it’s important that you understand how your prospects are accessing and consuming the content that helps them make a purchase decision.”

This data will help you choose whether to invest in mobile-first content; start a podcast for your audience; or turn all your content into videos.

2. Consider the Whole Buyer’s Journey

In content marketing, we create buyer personas so we can tailor each new piece of content to that buyer’s unique needs and interests. And those needs and interests change at each stage of the buyer’s journey – so we need to create content that maps at each stage. Erin Everhart, writing for Search Engine Watch, recommends, “When looking at your notes from your interviews, ask yourself, ‘When they were doing X, what part of the funnel would that be?’”

At AirBNB, the team went through a lengthy exercise to map out the buyer’s journey for both travelers and hosts. Nathan Blecharczyk, AirBNB’s Co-Founder & CTO, wrote that they created detailed storyboards with illustrations of their of personas going through the user journey, “from the time she first hears about Airbnb to the time she leaves post-visit feedback.” Blecharczyk says, “We then had a roadmap for figuring out what a customer expects in each of those situations, what we were doing to meet those expectations and where we had an opportunity to create a ‘wow’ moment.”

Whether it’s search terms at the top of the funnel or price comparisons at the bottom, different buyer personas will ask different questions and have different requirements at each stage. Identifying and defining these stages for your buyers will give you a leg up to developing the perfect content to move them toward a sale.

3. Don’t Get Lost in the Details

Even while we’re talking about digging deeper into the details of your buyer personas, the final piece of advice is not to get lost there. Buyer persona development expert Ardath Albee cautions: “I don’t care if he lives in a tent, a sprawling rambler in the suburbs, or a cramped apartment in the city. That’s not going to influence how he builds consensus with his team to buy cloud storage, beef up his network to enable mobility or decide to virtualize his company’s call center.”

The key here is really to pay attention to the details that matter and not get lost fussing over the details that, well, don’t. Adele Revella of the Buyer Persona Institute advises: “If your marketing team is debating whether your buyer persona is a man or a woman, or if you are bogged down finding just the right stock image of your persona, then you’re focusing on the wrong things.”

Get the critical details down and leave the cosmetic or too-specific touches out.

There you have it – three ways to dig deeper into your buyer personas and develop closer relationships with your audience. By finding out where and how they consume information, considering the full buyer’s journey, and focusing your energy on the details that matter (and leaving out the ones that don’t) will make it easier to develop personalized, relevant content that moves prospects through the funnel.

Let us know in the comments how you’re developing your personas and mapping your content to the buyer’s journey.

Learn how interactive content fits at each stage in the Buyer’s Journey with our Interactive Guide!

Photo by Zak Suhar via Stocksnap

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