When it comes to identifying target audiences for products and services, it’s easier (and seemingly, more efficient) to generalize rather than be specific. Isn’t everyone a potential customer? No, they’re not. The best way to identify – and market to – your brand’s true target audience is by creating buyer personas. These semi-fictional representations of your ideal customers are based on market research and real data about your existing customers.

Buyer personas inform your understanding of customers’ demographics, behaviors, goals and motivations. And not only do they guide product and service development, but they also identify where customers spend most of their time, and how they gather information and make decisions. As a content marketer, your mission is to reach and engage your customers where they already are, through the mediums and formats they desire. Simply put, buyer personas help you get to know your customers. And knowing what your customers want leads to business. More than 70 percent of companies who exceed revenue and lead goals have documented buyer personas (Cintell, 2016).

Buyer personas tell you what customers want

As Jason Miller, head of content & social marketing for LinkedIn Sales & Marketing Solutions, says, “We don’t need more content; we need more relevant content.”

Creating buyer personas allows you to understand the challenges your customers are facing and the answers they’re seeking. It’s not enough to create and distribute content and then pray your target customer will find it relevant to their needs. It will take careful research, but when you reveal their greatest challenges, you’re empowered to tailor your content accordingly. Every piece of content must map to one of your buyer personas. Write to their goals; answer their questions; solve their problems. Educate rather than sell.

Start your buyer personas research by interviewing existing customers. Use the insights they share to develop detailed backgrounds and identify common traits. Then, match them to ways your brand can help new and existing customers.

Buyer personas give you a roadmap

Visa’s slogan has it right: your customers are “everywhere you want to be.” What good is content if it doesn’t reach the right people? Buyer personas give you an idea of where they spend their time and how they learn new skills or share best practices. Are they heavily involved in professional networking through events? Do they engage with LinkedIn groups? Perhaps they read a daily blog that pertains to their interests. Wherever they are is where you, and your content, need to be. If your content marketing approach is too broad, chances are it won’t resonate with anyone.

If your content marketing approach is too broad, chances are it won’t resonate with anyone.Click To Tweet

Define your audience narrowly – based on specific known and inferred qualities and characteristics. No matter what product you sell or service you deliver, the more targeted your communications, the better your return. So, before you embark on or evolve your content marketing journey, be sure to identify at least one buyer persona for your strategy and work your way up from there. It may be a lot of work upfront, but the reward will be so much greater.

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With her combined talents in visual content creation and media relations, Jacqie strives to show AND tell unique narratives with every opportunity. Her experience spans the higher education, healthcare, technology and management sectors. Creative and detail-oriented, Jacqie helps ensure team efficiencies and client results. While she doesn’t own one yet, Jacqie has a passion for dogs, and hopes to one day rescue and train her own four-legged friend.