Source: Online Marketing Blog - TopRank® The 2017 Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs B2B content marketing research uncovered some fasc
The 2017 Content Marketing Institute and MarketingProfs B2B content marketing research uncovered some fascinating insights this year. One of the most interesting aspects of this research was the techniques B2B marketers are leveraging to better understand their target audiences.
And the techniques they aren’t using.
When asked which techniques they used to better understand their target audience(s) for content marketing purposes, “Auditing Existing Buyer Data” didn’t even crack the top ten (at 24% of respondents). Now there’s a real head-scratcher.
So what were the top 3?
- Website analysis (58%)
- Keyword search (57%)
- Employee feedback (50%)
While all of these techniques are wonderfully helpful, I’d gamble they aren’t giving B2B marketers the ammunition they need when it comes time to flesh out an editorial calendar.
This points to a truth that Adele Revella has spoken about, blogged about, and even wrote a book about. When it comes developing content, the majority of B2B marketers are simply making stuff up. They’re acting on a hunch, publishing tons of content to see what sticks, hoping their gut is pretty close to what customers or prospective buyers need to hear.
But most of the time, they’re dead wrong.
I recently interviewed Adele to get her thoughts on this, as well as hear about her upcoming CMWorld talk. It was an inspiring and insightful conversation. If you have the time, please read her book. In it, Adele literally unveils her entire business process, and reveals the playbook for crafting true buyer personas.
If you just have a few minutes to spare, here’s what she had to say in our interview:
Question 1: When looking to paint a more comprehensive picture of buyers, which attributes should content marketers seek to uncover?
“We make a key distinction upfront between buyers and customers. A buyer persona is there to help you be better at communicating with potential buyers. A customer persona is about helping customers once they have purchased.
First off, the key isn’t in the attributes of the buyer. While we do recommend that companies keep it simple by focusing on a few demographics like industry, company size, or job title, what really matters about your buyers isn’t in these basic attributes. Rather, it’s all about the how, when, and why of the buying decision you want to influence with your content.
The real meat of a buyer persona is what we call the 5 Rings of Buying Insight. From conducting real interviews with buyers, you can learn:
- What triggers the buyer’s investment (what happens in the org that requires investment)
- The success factor insight (the benefits they seek from this investment)
- Perceived barriers (why buyers wouldn’t choose you, or not invest at all)
- Decision criteria insight (questions your buyers have, features and functions)
- Buyer’s journey (where do they go, who do they trust, what steps do they go through to make this choice)
Our big message is stop focusing on who the buyer is. Rather, the meat of the persona will be the buying insight: the how, when, and why of their decision making process.”
Question 2: If content marketers have limited budgets, what activities or steps can they take in developing personas?
“Frankly, I would encourage marketers not to spend too much time creating buyer personas or profiles. Rather, try to gain insights from buyer interviews. It really doesn’t have to cost any money at all. If someone can get to, and interview real buyers in the right fashion, then you’ll be well on your way.
I would argue that the time invested in performing interviews is going to save B2B content marketers so much time on the back end. Instead of making stuff up, or going through endless revision cycles with internal stakeholders or clients, you can offer buyer interview insights as a stake in the ground about what content needs to get produced. This will save significant time and money. – questions the wisdom. It’s really about where are the marketers spending their own time and budget. Frankly, I have a training background; my heart was always in teaching. The mistake that nearly all marketers are making today is thinking about too many personas. Not only are they making stuff up, they’re making stuff up for multiple personas. It’s more content for more personas, without any real insight. In the end, it’s a wasted effort in most cases.
Truthfully, there are very few instances that we should be making different content for different audiences. We interview thousands of B2B buyers in our work, and these guys are building consensus among their buying committees. They are looking, and responding to the same stuff. There might be one special decision maker that needs…