Buyer Personas: The Foundation of Content Marketing
BY John Miller
June 8, 2017

Here at Scribewise, we like to say that most marketers are “facing the wrong way.” In other words, they’re looking inside the organization and trying to please the people they work with—even if they know and understand that their job is to attract the positive attention of customers outside the organization.

The trouble is that when all of your conversations are with people who are living the intricacies of your business every minute of every day, and are very likely big believers in what you have to offer, it tends to orient your focus inward. This makes it difficult to focus on the audience, or at least makes it seem secondary.

You begin to suffer from “the curse of knowledge.”

Marketers must embrace the ‘customer’s worldview’

When this happens, it’s hard to remember the audience’s point of view, what Seth Godin calls the customer’s worldview. Most brands tend to put their wants and needs first, and the audience’s wants and needs second. But, of course, putting the audience first is the surest path to success these days. Customers today really don’t want to be besieged by product pitches; they want information that helps them live their life or do their job.

That makes it imperative for your marketing to be audience-focused. And that means you must – MUST – have a good handle on your buyer personas. Buyer personas help you and your team to have understanding of the customers’ viewpoint.

The reason this matters is that the sales cycle has changed over the last 20 years. Today, at least 60 percent of the buying process is complete before the sales department ever hears from the prospect. Prospects spend that time educating themselves, developing ideas and preferences. We depict the Buyer’s Journey like this:Scribewise's Buyer's Journey


At every step along this journey, the prospective customer is seeking out information. Smart organizations that want to build a relationship with the audience and ultimately make the sale are feeding this appetite for information.

Building buyer persona profiles

Step one is to figure out who these people are. That means identifying buyer personas. You have to do that as the foundation for your content strategy. In many ways, well-researched and constructed buyer personas can replace the traditional creative brief. Once in-depth buyer personas are established, they become the focal point of marketing.

Here are some of the persona attributes you should identify in order to make your marketing smarter:

Job Role / Common Titles / Position on the Org Chart. This is pretty self-explanatory. Identifying the target audience’s roles and responsibilities is the heart of the exercise. Importantly, some personas will be higher up in the organization than other targets; they likely will need to have information delivered in a different way.

Demographics. Industry, company size and relationship to the marketer’s company.

Buying Center. This means identifying the department or team that holds the budget for the purchase.

Challenges.  The specific issues, problems and pain points faced by the persona. The goal is to identify universal challenges, but also be very precise in pinpointing them.

Initiatives. What are the significant projects the target persona is likely to be working on?

Buyer Role Type. Identifying what role the persona plays in their organization’s buying process.

Interaction Preferences. How do they like to receive information? Do they go online and figure it out for themselves, or do they have one of their direct reports do the initial research?

Watering Holes. Where do they gather with peers? Determining key trade shows and conferences, media outlets, LinkedIn discussion groups, etc. is important in creating connections with the personas you’re targeting.

Identifying these attributes should not be guesswork; this is a significant project that will take some time. It means conducting interviews with customer types; the more interviews you conduct, the better the data you collect and the more “real” your personas will be.

Make user narratives part of your personas

The best buyer personas go beyond simply listing demographic information – they delve deeply into what the buying process is like for the customer. To do this, you must put yourself in the shoes of your customer and build “user narratives” – stories you create in which your customer is the star and you explicitly detail their experience in buying your service or product.

The best marketing today puts the audience first. Which means you need to really, truly and deeply understand that audience.

Additional Resources

Here are more articles on buyer persona profiles from Scribewise:

Content Marketing: How Much Data Do You Need?

Designing a Content Marketing Pilot: How to Create Buyer Personas

Why Your Tech Company Needs a Content Marketing Plan Right Now

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