If you want to get good at content marketing, you will have to understand who you are creating content for, and what’s in it for them.
It’s elementary, dear marketer.
But it’s also stunning how many companies jump into creating content without doing that basic legwork
That’s like Inspector Lestrade and his men trampling over the evidence on a crime scene and then expecting Holmes to catch the perp.
Ain’t gonna happen, folks.
If you want to get the kind of results out of your content marketing that the C-suite wants, and if you hate wasting money and time as much as I do, you will first sit down and create buyer personas.
And you are welcome to steal the operating principles of the consulting detective living in the flat at 221B Baker Street, London.
The game’s afoot, people.
1. You are not just looking for a name
Sherlock Holmes does not rest with only a name. He will sniff, taste, listen, feel and look for evidence that escapes everybody else to create a complete description of an unknown person or a situation that turns out to be freakishly accurate.
That should be your philosophy with buyer personas. You are not looking for just a name, job title or gender. You are sketching the complete profile of your key buyers, right down to their personal goals, what problems they are facing in business and how your offering can simplify their life
2. Don’t theorize without data
Holmes may look like he is pulling stuff out of thin air but he never speaks without facts to back him up. It helps that his mind is like Wikipedia and can retain a lot of information. He has written several technical papers, including one on 140 types of tobacco ash and he dabbles with all sorts of stuff. The guy even knows how to throw a punch.
No matter how knowledgeable you think you are, base everything in your personas on hard data. Use tools like customer and sales interviews, surveys, web analytics and CRM software. And if these things are unavailable, use industry trends and publicly available data.
Just remember, some data, even if not specific to your company is better than no data at all.
3. Ask the right questions
Criminal investigations are not what they seem to the casual eye. In the first movie everyone thought that Lord Blackwood used occult to resurrect himself, break out of his crypt and start a reign of terror. Holmes looked at the right places and we found out that the “occult” involved bribery and science.
Because the heart of creating a buyer persona lies in proper research, you will be thrown off track if you don’t ask the correct questions. There are many good resources on the web, but this set of free templates from the Buyer Persona Institute should let you hit the ground running.
4. Step out of your comfort zone
Holmes doesn’t conduct his investigations out of his living room. He has a very hands on style and regularly puts himself in harms way. He tracks suspects himself, is a master of disguises, has faked his own death and welcomes a chase through the dark alleys of London.
You will have to step out of your comfort zone when you are creating buyer personas. You will have to ask tough and penetrating questions to people, both inside and outside your company.You will encounter resistance. You may even face your own Moriarty. But if you want your content marketing strategy to show results you will have to pull your own Reichenbach moment.
5. It’ll be a long hard slog
The movies don’t show much, but the books and even the BBC series show that Holmes didn’t have it easy. All his cases were complex, and he had to spend a lot of time and energy piecing together the clues. Heck, several cases (notably, A Scandal in Bohemia) involved a number of wild goose chases before he could tie up all the loose ends.
Creating a buyer persona is not a one time activity. It’s a continuous process and honestly, it will never end. You will have to keep on tweaking several aspects of your personas to keep them updated with changes in the business environment. This should be obvious, because your personas represent living, breathing people and not long dead Egyptian mummies.
What do you think about buyer personas, and what have I missed?
Do you have buyer personas for your marketing activities?
Image courtesy ell brown