In your industry, the sales funnel is long, and many people are involved in the decision-making process. To target your content to the right audience, you will need to identify the key personas in each stage of the sales funnel. Your content can then be crafted to provide value to each of them.
Thus, after establishing the goals for your content, the next step in developing a strategic content marketing plan is to identify your audience.
Step 2: ‘Speak’ to the right audience
To identify the right audience, you start by answering these key questions:
- Who is our content meant to reach at each stage of the sales funnel?
- How can we provide value to each of them, beyond our products and services?
- How can we use our content to support them through their buyer’s journey?
By identifying the key personas in each stage of the sales funnel, your content marketing can be strategically targeted.
Developing key personas
You can start to develop key personas by looking at your current client base and answering a few simple questions like:
- Do your clients all work at companies of a certain size?
- Do they hold similar job titles?
- Do they work in the same industry?
- Do they use the same software?
This will provide a very basic type of persona: e.g. a 30 to 45-year old female, who works in water quality management, at a utility company of 100+ employees.
To develop a more in-depth profile, more information is required. What sort of technologies does she use to do her job? How does she get information- social media, internet searches, conferences and workshops? What sort of information does she need?
With all this quantitative data, you can begin to construct key personas as they change through the sales funnel. Don’t forget that these personas represent real people, real clients. How do your clients make decisions? Consult with your customer service and sales teams to find out. Better yet talk to the clients themselves. Attend in-person calls, trade shows, anywhere you can talk to real people.
It is also very important to understand that while your key personas can be mapped to different stages in your sales cycle, or to various types of content you are producing, the people your persona represents are not static or inflexible.
Changes in the market can alter your personas attitudes toward your solutions:
- Has there been a major weather event (i.e. flood, drought, storms)?
- Has there been a major change in the regulatory framework?
- Is a certain sector heading into ‘boom’ conditions?
Before you develop your content calendar for the new year, try going back to the drawing board with your personas, looking closely at whether each one still accurately reflects your target audience’s current life situation and purchasing needs.
To develop and maintain your key personas, it’s important to take the time to talk to actual clients. Let people know that you’re just as interested in learning what they may need now as you were when you last spoke with them.
If you do this regularly enough, you’ll notice that some answers have shifted over time, and it’s these shifts that should be informing your persona updates.
Now that your goals and audience are identified it is time to think about Step 3: what tactics will appeal to your audience. Come back next week for Step 3: Choose tactics that achieve goals and engage prospects.
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