What Comes First, the Buyer Personas or the Content?

What Comes First, the Buyer Personas or the Content?

By Dan StasiewskiAug 1 /2012

What comes first?Marketing is smarter than it ever was now that you can create highly segmented lead lists and send behavior-triggered lead nurturing campaigns. To take advantage of this sophisticated marketing automation technology, you need two very important things: buyer personas and content.

What is a buyer persona?

The buyer persona is a representation of the real person who is interested in buying your product or service. This isn’t just a current customer and a sales prospect, as David Meerman Scott notes in this video. These buyer personas are the people that are not even on your radar—the potentials who can turn into customers if you create the right content.

What is content?

There are many forms of content. Blog posts, videos, whitepapers, case studies, guides, cheat sheets, even website pages. But for the purposes of lead generation, most of the content mentioned in this post refers to something valuable enough for a person to fill out a form on your website to obtain the content.

The Challenge

Now, let’s face it: Many marketers still don’t have buyer personas for their current customers, let alone the people who aren’t even in your sales funnel. They may have an idea of who the decision makers and influencers are from talking to sales. And savvy marketers might be able to create new personas just out of those conversations.

When you’re starting down the road with advanced marketing automation, convincing the higher ups that you need to interview people who aren’t customers or prospects so you can create that content may be a tough sell. If you don’t have personas on paper to start with, it’s probably impossible to get approval for new buyer personas.

Where do you start?

Go with what you know. Make this a chance to finally build out those buyer personas for current customers and prospects. You can do this by interviewing some of the most recent customers for a fresh perspective. (They may just tell you something you didn’t think of because you’ve been “in it” for so long.)  If you already have buyer personas for existing customers, it’s also helpful to go back and take a second look.

These existing personas will be your foundation for creating content that will encourage website visitors to fill out a form to get the offer. This isn’t a replacement for the true buyer personas, but it’s enough to help you focus as you write a helpful guide that solves a problem... and makes a great download.

What comes next?

This is where the content does the work. If you create valuable content that generates leads on your website (and you may need a lot of it), you should receive information from all the new leads that convert on your website. Look through the data and see if there’s somebody who doesn’t match with an existing buyer persona. One of those standout leads might just be a potential buyer that you never knew existed.

Now you can begin the process of interviews or, at the very least, research, so that you can create new content for campaign targeting this new buyer persona. 



Image source: marktee

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The Author

Dan Stasiewski

When he's not talking about marketing data and trends, he's probably in a movie theater... or randomly breaking into song.