Do You Know Where Your Buyer Personas Are?
By Liz Murphy
Guess what I was doing at 11:15 p.m., last night?
I wasn’t asleep or Netflix-binging like a normal human being. Instead, I was curled up in bed with my husband, Patrick, snoring quietly beside me as I basked in the glow of my iPhone screen.
I know, I know. There’s this whole nutso movement out there telling me I should be screen-free at bedtime, but I can’t help myself.
When it’s sleep-o-clock at our apartment, my Type A creative brain doesn’t want to turn off. It screams for inspiration. So, that last hour of the day is my time to scroll through my LinkedIn feed, trolling for interesting articles that pertain to my professional passions.
But last night was different.
As I was swiping my way through article after article, my inner content creator blurted out an unexpected question:
“We always talk about knowing who your buyer personas are, but do you know where your buyer personas are?”
At first glance, that probably seems like a wacky question, but bear with me. I promise this isn’t the ramblings of a late-night agency creative gone rogue.
Why You Need to Know "Where?"
In my world, buyer personas are the most important thing you can create for your inbound marketing strategy.
Every choice you make -- from campaigns and conversion offers, to blog posts and keywords -- all comes back to your personas.
Who they are, what they care about, what keeps them up at night, what their goals are, etc. These are all important details that you absolutely must research and document, as they inform those critical marketing strategy decisions.
Unfortunately, it is at this point many people end their persona conversation.
Once the average marketing team figures out the pain points, the challenges, and goals of their personas -- and slaps a goofy name on them like “Account Manager Andy” -- they high-five each other and call it a day.
But that’s only the beginning of the story.
Once you know what content you need to create to attract your buyer personas based on those details, you then need to have a long talk about where your personas are.
Are they congregating around specific social networks? Are they offline, skimming industry rags and magazines? Are they under their headphones at the gym listening to podcasts? Are they kicking around SlideShare? Are they an insane, sleep-deprived woman curled up under the covers at midnight reading LinkedIn?
These details matter, because ultimately, it doesn't matter what you're saying if it you're saying it somewhere your audience can't hear it.
"Where" Helps You Shape Your Inbound Strategy
Honing in on a persona's top-level pain points through killer content is only half the battle. If you don’t know how to package that content or where to send it, you’ll become the marketing equivalent of someone who writes a love letter to their crush and then sends it to the wrong mailing address.
For example, if you are unfortunate enough to have a persona like me -- a picky content strategist who is very set her in ways -- you’ve got an uphill battle ahead of you.
While I understand the virtues of video, I rarely choose to digest video content first. Seriously, if it’s in video form, there's a good chance I'll try to find the information I need elsewhere.
On the other hand, I am that girl at the gym who listens to podcasts about what I do, instead of music. I'm my most active on LinkedIn at night (hence this post!), but I always feel like a grandmother learning how to poke on “The Facebook Thing” whenever I try to use Snapchat.
I loathe eBooks for myself, because I think they’re big, fat timewasters created by horrible people who want me to be miserable, but I love research reports, whitepapers, checklists, and other tactical conversion offers that help me do my job.
Also, even though I spend most of my days on the computer for work, 99% of my content cruising occurs on my iPhone or iPad after hours.
Lucky for most of you, I am not your persona. (In fact, though I don't like it for myself, like I said, I am a strong advocate for video as a marketer as most people do enjoy it.)
However, that degree of idiosyncrasy and individuality around my habits is not unique to me, and if you do your homework and start thinking with that level detail around your personas, you’ll come to realize they have their own patterns of habits, as well.
This Isn't Just About Personas, This Is Where Inbound Is Going
What’s interesting about adopting this more three-dimensional approach to your audience personas -- where they actually become people with feelings (gross) -- is that it’s indicative of where inbound is going overall.
It used to be that you would just stand up a blog, write some content, publish an eBook and then celebrate, because you were nailing it.
That doesn’t cut it anymore. Quality matters now, more than ever before.
More importantly, content that is only “good enough” -- or worse, is thrown together with no consideration given to format and platform for distribution, at all -- doesn’t cut it anymore either.
It’s getting crowded out there, because inbound marketing isn’t some new-fangled hip thing all the cool kids are doing. It’s a paradigm shift you must get on board with as a business, because the way people and other businesses make purchasing decisions changed when you weren't looking.
In short, this is now the norm. Resistance is futile.
So, if you’re not asking those contextual “where?” questions that help you make those essential decisions around content formatting and delivery -- which will vary depending on who you're trying to reach -- there is no time like the present to make that change in your strategy.
With that in mind, I have one question for you:
Don't you owe it to your business to find out if you're looking for your buyer personas in the right place before you create content and send it out into the great unknown?
Wondering where to begin?