By Brenda Caine, Content Strategist, Content4Demand
Personas are the cornerstone of content marketing. The better you know the people you’re talking to, the more closely you can align your content messaging, format decisions and even your promotional strategies to their needs. You need to understand what drives them, what scares them, what trips them up.
So where do you begin when building your personas? There are lots of templates, guides and interactive tools out there to help you. Most if not all of these resources list the elements you need to include. Experts recommend these ingredients for great results: Look to relevant research. Contact some of your customers. Or my favorite: Make educated guesses.
Some organizations have the internal resources they need to roll out detailed persona development projects, but don’t get overwhelmed by the data if yours isn’t one of them.
You don’t have to make it so hard on yourself. Every organization is guaranteed to have one great inside source for buyer insights: the sales team.
I know. Sales and Marketing sometimes have a rocky relationship. But it’s time to make friends with your sales reps. These people know your target audiences intimately. They are out there talking to them, building relationships with them, winning deals with them.
A one-hour conversation with a top sales rep can give you deep insights into your target audiences — probably more than all the raw data you would spend days collecting. Begin that conversation by asking:
- What are the titles of the people we’re trying to reach? What are their responsibilities?
- What are their demographics: age, gender, education, income?
- What are their top three challenges? What are their top three measures of success (or KPIs)?
- What are the barriers preventing them from achieving their goals — their pain points? Your salespeople live with their prospects’ and customers’ pain points day in and day out.
- Ask about triggers: what would prompt the prospect to say, “I need to do something now”?
- What would deter your prospect from making a buying decision? What are their initial objections?
- Where do prospects like to get their information?
- If they are ready to buy, are there barriers they will face, such as cost or needing to get buy-in from peers or higher-ups?
With this kind of insight driving your content, you won’t be sending messages to faceless “contacts.” You’ll be talking to real people facing real challenges. You’ll have the deep understanding you need to develop content that speaks directly and personally to people. Isn’t that the whole point of content marketing?
There’s another upside to engaging your sales team and acknowledging their expertise: You may just build a strong relationship with Sales that will spill over into improved trust, communication and collaboration — which leads to long-term business success.
What actions have you taken to collaborate with your sales team — on personas, or on other initiatives? Share your experiences in the comments section below!
Brenda Caine is a content strategist for Content4Demand. She enjoys the challenge of developing effective content marketing strategy for B2B clients as well as writing content. She fell into marketing for technology companies by accident when she landed a temporary job for a data backup company in San Diego at age 24, deciding to make it a full-time career when the opportunity arose. When she’s not immersed in technology, you can find her dancing in the ballet studio, lifting weights at the gym or strolling down the avenue in a 1930s dress with a smart hat to match.