Once you have documented the business challenges you must overcome to be successful, you need to specifically define who the target audience will be for your campaign.
This is a critical step for several reasons.
First, you need to figure out who has influence and/or decision-making authority in the purchase of your product or service. For complex services, there are often many individuals involved in making a purchase decision. Each one may have a different role within the company and will bring their own points of view to the table. They may be trying to solve the same problem, but will look at issues through their own lens based on their role.
Put another way, different individuals could derive different benefits from utilizing your offering. Their pain points, use cases, and expected involvement will all vary.
Beyond the benefits enjoyed from solving any particular issue, each person must also overcome their own fears, apprehensions, and personal allegiances before a consensus on a purchasing decision can be reached. Sometimes, you’ll find that although there are many influencers involved in the process, no one person is willing to step up and make a decision or be your champion.
A good way to document these dynamics is by creating user personas. Personas examine each user role by establishing their pain points, typical job activities, potential personality traits, and influence or decision-making authority, among other things. Persona development can get incredibly detailed, but at a minimum you should attempt to document the needs and concerns of key roles you are likely to encounter during the typical buying process. It’s also important to know what each person must accomplish to be seen as successful in their role.
As it relates to your content marketing initiatives specifically, you should also include the following types of elements in your persona profiles:
• Publications they read
• Websites they visit
• Social media platforms they engage on
• Conferences they attend
As you work through this process, you will begin to see where, if any, overlap exists between personas. When you get down to the process of mapping specific content deliverables, this will give you the knowledge you need to decide which deliverables map to each persona type and where you could promote them to get the most exposure.
Since different personas will likely need to receive different pieces of information on their Know-Believe-Do journey, you will have to be thoughtful as to how you can leverage different pieces of content across the campaign.
It is also important to consider the number and types of business verticals you’ll encounter as you define your target audiences. This information is overlaid across your persona types and provides an additional dimension to your planning. If you market across verticals, this becomes particularly important as you decide which messages you deliver and to whom. It may be that certain pieces of content will work in any vertical. However, a more likely scenario is that you’ll have to craft content that speaks to the challenges in each vertical.
Say, for example, your target persona is a marketing director. A marketing director in a large B2C company will probably have different needs, buyers, and use cases to address than a marketing director in a niche B2B company. They are both marketing directors, but their business focus and verticals make a major difference in the types of things they need to get their jobs done.
Your targets may be obvious based on the positioning of your offering. But if you have an offering that can stretch across personas and business verticals, then defining each dimension as clearly as you can will help you to construct meaningful content while showcasing it in the best possible venues.
This post is adapted from an excerpt of The Content Driven Product Launch