Across the internet, content marketing gurus agree that one key to a successful content strategy is keeping your content fresh through regular publication of original or curated content that’s appealing and useful to your audience.
How to assure that?
Here again, the gurus are in agreement on one key strategic component: the research and development of buyer personas that identify and categorize your target customers.
Adele Revella, author of The Buyer Persona Manifesto, defines a buyer persona as,
…an archetype; a composite picture of the real people who buy, or might buy, products like the ones you market…
By writing directly to and for your buyer personas, and keeping their problems and concerns top of mind, you can plan pieces that will appeal to their interests and their needs.
And you can then use the personas to evaluate the impact of your work and to modify your strategy and tactics, as needed.
As part of AUMW’s ongoing effort to provide and disseminate useful, valuable information about Content Marketing, we are constantly running across articles that stimulate our thinking.
This post is inspired by an article by Anna Ritchie on ContentMarketingInstitute.com: 3 Tips for Keeping Your Buyer Personas Fresh and Alive.
Keep Your Buyer Personas Current
If you choose to use buyer personas, keep in mind that the impact of your writing is directly dependent on the quality of your personas: the effectiveness of even the “freshest” content depends on whether your buyer personas accurately reflect the needs of the audience you have today. That means consistently refreshing your personas to make sure they match your current business strategy and environment.
In an article on ContentMarketingInstitute.com, social media marketer Anna Ritchie says,
…it’s important to regularly update your personas to reflect shifting audience trends, as well as to account for adjustments…to your overall business goals and strategies.
Ritchie reminds us that personas are vital elements in deciding the types of content to create, the tone and style of your content, topics and targets to focus on, and content delivery strategies.
5 Ways to Keep Buyer Personas Current
Here are five actionable ideas for keeping personas fresh and on-target:
- Re-examine and refresh all of your personas on a regular basis. Incorporate this process into your content marketing strategy and plan. Put it in your calendar at regular intervals keyed to the rate of change in your industry and competitive environment. Make sure, as Ritchie says, that your personas “accurately reflect your target audience’s current life situation and purchasing needs.”
- Prioritize direct conversations with customers. Include some who bought from you and some who didn’t. Keep this simple. A few quick phone calls or emails, or browsing expeditions through customer comments on your website and blog can offer fresh insights. Ritchie recommends calendaring these activities to make sure they’re done and done regularly.
- Use the best data resources to supplement direct conversations. Draw on the ever-growing variety of online tools to mine data that’s keyed to your business and your customers. An article by Adria Saracino, Head of Content Strategy at Seattle-based online marketing agency Distilled, recommends five such tools — Google Consumer Surveys, Quora, Mechanical Turk, NoSQL, and Feedback Army. Saracino evaluates each and offers real-life examples of how they can be put to use to keep your personas fresh and on target.
- Add new personas and drop obsolete ones as your market evolves. Your personas aren’t monuments to the past, they’re working tools, keyed to the present and the foreseeable future. Don’t be sentimental; put your time and resources where they’ll be most effective.
- Visualize your audience. Ritchie suggests keeping photos of actual customers where you can see them. They’ll represent your target personas and remind you that you’re creating content for real people.
Whatever specific approaches you adopt, keep this essential point in mind: you’ve developed those customer personas to play a crucial role in your content strategy. Their effectiveness — just like that of the content you develop for them and provide to them — depend on their “freshness,” on their congruence with your current and constantly evolving business strategy and environment.