For your business blog to be effective you need to know the challenges, needs and objectives of your customer base so your content can help them and in turn help yourself.
A great blog (well, all great marketing for that matter) starts with identifying the shared sets of needs, challenges, values and goals represented by your ideal customers – aka, your buyer personas.
This is not revolutionary thinking, but is often an overlooked approach for businesses big and small. The reality is that when you develop effective personas, your whole focus changes. You acquire a compass that guides your topic selection and tone of voice in a way that allows you to begin speaking specifically to your prospects in a way that resonates with them.
The flip side of this, in a worst case scenario example, is blogging in the form of a quasi-press-release. This approach is not going to engage your prospects and it is also unlikely that the subject matter matches the intent of their problem identification. Think of this as the other end of the blogging spectrum, if for no other reason than to illustrate that blogging without buyer persona insight will have you one step closer to this cold, dark end of the scale, somewhere no marketer wants to be.
For the purpose of an example, let’s assume you are a SaaS company that develops accounting software for the construction industry. Instead of writing a blog about the features of your latest application, you write about “How to take the pain out of payroll with these 5 time-saving tips”.
Why? Well you completed your buyer persona research and identified that there is a consistent trend amongst your ideal client base for the buyer persona; Accountant Alex
Your research (I’ll get to that later) tells you that Alex:
- Is the Finance Manager for medium sized, privately owned construction company.
- Manages a small team of 4-5 people in a company with 70 staff
- Reports to the CEO.
- Wants to grow his career and receive a pay rise.
- Takes public transport to his office in the city.
- Starts work at 8am in an average day which consists of morning meetings, followed by a busy day responding to emails, processing payments and running reports.
- Prefers to correspond via email than over the phone.
- Is married and has school age children.
- Is 45-55 years old.
- Earns $100,000 – $120,000 a year.
- Plays golf.
Alex’s company has outgrown their accounting software and it’s causing frustration within his department. Alex finds himself conducting many manual processes that should be automated and this restricts him from working on more strategic tasks.
Alex’s company relies heavily on temporary staff which, through their ongoing growth, is making their manual payroll process a real headache.
Alex is a member of an industry association for accountants and regularly reads their email newsletter. He also uses Google to search for new suppliers and to generally learn new information for his role.
Alex likes LinkedIn and usually spends most of his time on the train reading articles shared by his network. Alex has Facebook, but only uses it to keep an eye on his kids Facebook interactions.
Alex wants accounting software that integrates with their project management software and allows for other 3rd party integrations. He is also focused on additional automation functionality.
Alex needs to get approval from the CEO before he can make any capital expenditure over $25,000, but once he does, he is free to control the buying process himself.
You now have a pretty strong guide as to what content will engage Alex and also where best to find him (and where not to try and find him).
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As a marketer, this insight and context can make all the difference between having an ineffective blog and a successful one.
How to create your buyer personas
Creating effective personas is done through surveying your target audience and existing customers. Additionally, you should also survey your client facing staff.
The key is to uncover as much information as you can about your ideal clients, focusing on their:
- Personal background
- Information sources
- Buying preferences
Then, once you have completed 10-15 surveys, look for the inherent trends that start to form. With these trends in place, consider how it relates to the insights gathered from your internal interviews and sales data. This will be the framework for developing a buyer persona with reliable consistency to your marketplace.
Now, at this point it is important to note that your buyer personas are generalisations developed from the trends identified in the buyer persona research, therefore they do not serve to suggest you exclude worthwhile client profiles that are not an exact match.
Additionally, the reason why I used the name; Accountant Alex is that you should use a catchy name as well as an avatar photo to help create this fictional representation. This allows your entire team to have a unified understanding of who it is you are trying to attract.
Now with your buyer persona in place your blog can become a more targeted tool to delivering relevant, engaged leads.