Transparency & Personas - Effortless Content Marketing Consumption

Ed Marsh | Mar 14, 2013

In a media-saturated world, persuading through interruption and repetition is increasingly ineffective. To engage consumers, advertisers must focus on where and when they will be receptive.” Harvard Business Review, March ’13, Advertising that Works

But how do you get there?

buyer personas content marketingIf you’ve ever listened to a Brian Halligan presentation you’ve heard the “interruption marketing” mantra. What not to do is reasonably clear.

The problem is that what you should do isn’t necessarily as straightforward, but the key lies in the “where and when they will be receptive.”

The beauty of search is that you don’t need to know who is going to look when. If you are properly developing your inbound marketing program they will find you. That part is assumed.

But when they find you will you convince them?

Who you're really selling to

Well this is where all that jazz about personas and buying process come into play. If you haven’t gotten really cerebral with these then you’re squandering conversions and missing qualified leads.

If you really understand who your buyers are and what the typical buying process is then you will populate your editorial calendar with content (we’ll just presume it’s going to be awesome) across multiple channels, multiple personas and multiple buying stages.

Buying stages are going to have to be more specific than just TOFU, MOFU & BOFU (that’s a handy reference but not terribly nuanced, particularly for more complex sales cycles.)

If you do it right your public content will engage the prospect and direct them through a link or CTA to a page or section on your site that speaks to their persona/stage or to a dynamic landing page for an offer adapted to the persona/stage. Ideally either will also be adapted to their “learning style” (e.g. if an infographic brought them in, then your content will be visual in nature. If a snapshot of a financial analysis is the source, then a detailed, erudite whitepaper might be appropriate. Your content should accommodate auditory, visual and kinesthetic styles as much as possible.)

(Not to wander too far afield, but the style of hooks (snelled or barbed) shown on the HBR cover are worth noting.  Traditional marketing was based on snells to keep someone on the hook.  Expertly executed inbound marketing doesn't need a barb - the real & legitimate value of the content to prospects creates a symbiotic rather than combative relationship between seller & prospect.)

Prospects will intuit your expertise...and your respect for them

In other words your public content ushers them right in the VIP entrance directly to their suite. Ritz Carleton style (many say there’s no better yardstick for personalized customer service) you’ll have their favorite fruit in a bowl, preferred spirit on ice and down or memory foam pillow perfectly fluffed up according to their preferences.

And you can do all this automatically. You need only develop really accurate personas, understand the buying process intimately and put the time and effort into creating the content and infrastructure. Admittedly the latter isn’t a small task, but there’s help available – and it all depends on the former.

But if you do it, you’ll rock. If you believe in your gut that any link that directs someone to a home page (vs. a page that speaks to them, in their role, with their language, at their stage in the buying process) is a waste, then you’re on the right track.

Marketing automation and buyer personas - a magical combination

If interruption is the antithesis of what you seek, then the optimal result is the holy grail of hospitality service – transparency. Think about a really incredible experience you’ve had (maybe that $500 anniversary dinner) where in retrospect the right service, food, wine all just appeared magically at just the right moment without you even consciously noting it.

That’s the yardstick you should use for your inbound marketing, content and promotion efforts. Achieve that and you’ll have briefly attained mastery…but maintaining it won’t be easy.

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