Buyer personas are established elements of marketing plans, so why shouldn’t a content persona be appropriate for a content marketing plan.
Buyer personas show how existing or potential customers think, their perceived needs and where they get information. A content marketing persona is similar, but it zeroes in on what kind of content customers view as useful, informative and entertaining.
Buyer and content personals all have the same objective – to convert someone from a viewer into a customer. They both search for triggers for that conversion. They seek ways to establish a bond of trust between brand and buyer.
There are subtle differences. A content persona places more emphasis on preferred information channels, content consumption habits and frequency of content acquisition.
Marketing personas are ways to humanize customer statistics. It is hard to conjure a marketing plan for metadata. It is easier to envision a plan that addresses people with certain kinds of common characteristics.
Personas reveal "pain points,” “priority initiatives,” “perceived barriers” and “decision criteria.” Marketers like to track the “buyer’s journey” and “success factors.” Content marketers must be mindful of all that within the framework of creating content.
A pain point could involve finding a way to get rid of mold in the shower. A buyer persona might focus on a product. A content persona would show the process of how to use a reputable product to scrub away the mold. It is the difference between promoting a product directly or demonstrating how your product works.
This example illustrates that some “buyers” just want a solution, while others want to be involved in the solution. That oversimplifies the difference between buyer and content personas, but it does show how they differ.
Another key difference is perspective. A buyer persona is intended to mark the path to a sale. A content persona is a roadmap to winning the customer’s trust and, ultimately, loyalty.
Many companies have shifted marketing dollars to content marketing because it matches well with customer relationship management. If all you do is pitch products, you aren’t distinguishing yourself from competitors. If a competitor comes up with a snappier, cooler and cheaper product, your buyer persona is hasta la vista. Competitors have a tougher time busting through the rapport you establish with layers of successful content marketing that deliver continuing value.
Content marketing and personas don’t require throwing away all you know about marketing or buyer personas. They do require a marketing master's degree in how to generate content from the vantage point of a helpful neighbor with a garage full of unbelievably useful tools.