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3 Steps to Create Buyer Personas & Buyer Journeys to Kick-Start Your Content Strategy

Erin Everhart
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goals-funnel-bullseyeIt's not enough to have killer content anymore; you have to know how your audience will absorb that content.

Creating killer content won't do you any good if it's not something your users actually need.

Instead of jumping right into brainstorming content types, start by creating buyer personas and buyer journeys. This tells you who your buyers are and how they're shopping, giving you a clear idea of what you need to produce to make their decision easily.

Note that buyer personas and user groups are not interchangeable. Users use; buyers pay. Think about any kid's toy. While the child will ultimately be the one using it, the parent is the one you need to create content for because they'll be the one purchasing.

For simplicity sake, let's assume you only have one type of person you're targeting, but in most cases, you'll be marketing to a couple of different sets, so you'll need to replicate this process for each of your different audience groups.

1. Interview Your Audience

The first step in creating buyer personas is interviewing your audience. The key is to survey people who aren't your customers; your customers already know who you are.

There are two types of information you want to get during these interviews:

  • Demographic: Age, gender, family, income, occupation, education, geographic region.
  • Psychographic: Opinions, values, activities, interests, buying process, usage process.

Ask open-ended questions about how and when they purchased a product or service. The goal is to understand their process, not them specifically. Some good questions:

  • When did you know you needed this product or service?
  • How did you shop for this product or service? Name specifics.
  • How long did you shop?
  • What were you looking for in this product or service?
  • What were the most important attributes for you about this product or service?
  • How did you decide to ultimately purchase this product or service?
  • What did you do after you bought this product or service?

Typically, 10-15 minutes should suffice for each interview. Have an idea of what you want to ask, but don't just read off a sheet. Keep it conversational, and people will tell you more.

You'll want to conduct a handful of interviews for each segment in your target audience. After the first three or four, you'll start to see similarities in how people are answering the questions. Group those similarities, and that becomes your buyer persona.

2. Segment the Information to the Marketing Funnel

Now that you have the raw data, you need to put it into a way that's useful. That's where your marketing funnel comes in.

Take a look at your buyer persona and segment off your notes into where they fit in a typical marketing funnel. For this exercise, let's use the Awareness, Consideration and Decision segments. When looking at your notes from your interviews, ask yourself, “When they were doing X, what part of the funnel would that be?” You can use the following as an outline:

Awareness
  • Recognized there was a problem they needed to fix
  • How they came to that decision
  • First thing they did after they realized they wanted to fix the problem
Consideration
  • Values they found important in the product or service (price, functionality)
  • Places they looked to solve the problem
Decision
  • Factors that lead to a purchasing decision
  • How they purchased
  • What they did after purchasing

This allows you to understand how your buyers behave at each step of the process. The next step if figuring out how you get them to come to you.

3. Brainstorm Ways to Reach Them At Each Stage

Now that you've segmented their actions into your marketing funnel, you can start brainstorming in a more targeted manner because you know what they're doing in each phase.

Look at the actions in each phase, and start thinking about what you could do to reach them or sway them as they move through the funnel.

For example, in the Consideration phase, if you find that your buyers are comparing a couple of different companies or types of products, create a comparison chart so they can find all the information in one place instead of hunting around manually.

This also will show you the key things they find important, which helps you in your messaging of why someone should go with your company over a competitor.

The first couple runs at this content strategy process will take longer, but all in all, the entire process shouldn't take you more than a couple of hours for each persona. Start with your most important personas first, and then work your way back until you have content pieces that will reach each person you're targeting when they need it most.


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