Content marketing is the idea that businesses can earn the trust, loyalty and goodwill of their customer base if they prove themselves to be reliable sources of valuable information on a regular basis.
The hope is that when consumers regularly see that a website offers them excellent information, they will begin to trust the company behind it.
Small business owners do generally accept that turning themselves into sources of authoritative information can endear them to their customers.
However, they also know that their customers come from a wide variety of backgrounds and are often interested in different things. What specific part of their customer base are they supposed to publish content for?
Some businesses try to turn themselves into a Reader’s Digest of sorts – they publish something for every kind of reader. People, though, don’t usually follow a business blog unless most of the information available is material they can use. The general interest approach usually only succeeds in driving away most readers.
Businesses engaging in content marketing, then, seem stuck. Every individual member of their customer base wants in-depth content in a different niche. How is a small business to handle such content demands?
The answer lies in creating buyer personas
Businesses only need to target their content marketing efforts at the core of their customer base – not at every single member. It takes some market research to determine the profile or buyer persona of the idealized core customer. If you are able to invest in the right kind of market research, you should be able to come up with a detailed description that accurately describes your ideal customer.
If yours is a retail business selling budget women’s clothing online, you may contact a professional marketing service for help creating a meaningful buyer persona that you can target your content marketing at.
After surveying your customers, they could come up with a persona that looks something like this: Your ideal customer is a 23-year-old educated and unmarried woman with an income of $45,000 a year. She has an interest in arts and crafts, romantic comedy and TV shows on mysticism. She loves entertaining friends once a week, is regularly engaged on Pinterest and is somewhat spiritual. Her tastes in clothing run to affordable designers like Norma Kamali, Nicole Miller and Isaac Mizrahi.
When you have a detailed buyer persona, you know what kind of content to create
The more detailed your buyer persona, the more angles you have for creating content. For the buyer persona above, a business could write articles on spiritualism, throwing parties, the challenges that young women face in the workplace and so on.
It’s easy to begin creating content when you have a detailed buyer persona. The problem is that businesses often don’t understand how to identify good market research agencies for help building buyer personas.
The four main ways in which you can trip up hiring the wrong market researcher
Your market research agency can make stuff up: Market research requires hard work. Many low-priced market research agencies simply go through the motions. They actually make up fictitious market research data. A business that depends on such market research to create its idealized buyer persona will obviously go seriously wrong.
The market research agency can poll the wrong people for information: Many market research agencies take shortcuts when looking for buyer information. Rather than directly surveying the customers of the business, they try to talk to their sales representatives. It saves them work and produces results that look believable. Sales representatives often don’t fully know their customers, though. Buyer personas based on information from your sales representatives are likely to be inaccurate.
The agency can get overly technical: Buyer personas are supposed to be built on hundreds of customer interviews. Many market research professionals, though, have a tendency to trust Big Data and business intelligence more than customer interviews. While Google Analytics and other Big Data sources may offer valuable insights, they shouldn’t replace customer surveys.
The market research agency can overcomplicate things: In an attempt to appear scientific and thorough, many market researchers make the mistake of categorizing the customers they interview into 15 or 20 different buyer personas. They forget, though, that customer tastes and preferences are not easy to pigeonhole. These personas are usually unreliable. It’s usually best to go with no more than 6 or 7 buyer personas.
Buyer personas should be considered central to any content marketing plan. The trick, though, is to make sure that your buyer personas are truly descriptive of your core audience.
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