How well do you really know your customer base? Have you ever taken the time to imagine your average customer and think about how you would speak to him or her at different stages in the buying cycle?

A buyer persona map is a document that details the desires and motivations of a fictitious person who might be your typical customer. You complete the map by writing down the types of questions that this fictitious person might ask during the three major stages of the customer journey: awareness, consideration and decision.

The awareness stage is when the customer realizes that he or she has a problem or need. During the consideration stage, the customer begins to research possible solutions. Finally, the customer purchases a product or service at the decision stage.

Once you’ve created a buyer persona, you should keep it in mind every time you create content. You’ll maximize the effectiveness of your content by directly targeting a question or pain point that your typical customer might have. You’ll also avoid making the mistake of giving the customer a strong sales pitch too early in the buying cycle.

Example Buyer Persona

Let’s suppose that your company has an online blender store. Customers order from all over the world buy your products. One of your buyer personas is Julie, a marketing executive with a college degree. Julie knows that a tidy, professional appearance can greatly help to give a potential client a good first impression — but she doesn’t have a great deal of time to prepare healthy foods at home.

Now, simply having personas is a great step (since such a large percentage of marketers don’t use personas at all), but the real power comes when those personas are “mapped” or matched to certain stages of the customer lifecycle.

Phases

During the awareness stage, Julie realizes that she is getting older, and her metabolism is slowing down. She can’t continue eating those calorie-laden muffins for breakfast forever.

During the consideration stage, Julie evaluates her options. Does she have the budget to begin paying for a meal delivery service? What about a gym membership? Could she make a smoothie in the morning instead of picking up a muffin from the local coffee shop? Are smoothies really healthy? What do you need in order to make a smoothie?

At the decision stage, Julie has now decided that a daily smoothie is right for her, and she wants to buy a blender powerful enough to liquefy fruits, vegetables and ice without burning the motor out. This is the ideal time for a company to step in and convince Julie that its blender is the ideal choice.

Next, let’s examine how different types of content might influence Julie at different stages of the buying cycle. Use the ideas that we explore here to create targeted content that appeals to your customer base.

Blog Posts

Blog posts are ideal for targeting customers during the awareness and consideration stages. Most of the time, your blog posts should focus on providing information and advice (although this may vary depending on the industry and persona). You can use your blog posts to establish the value and usefulness of your products or services without using overt sales tactics. These blog posts might appeal to Julie during the early stages of the customer journey:

  • Ten Healthy Superfood Smoothies to Boost Your Metabolism
  • Alternatives to a Gym Membership for Weight Loss
  • Five Breakfasts You Can Prepare in Five Minutes or Less
  • Ditch These High-Calorie Breakfasts to Lose Weight Fast
  • Are Smoothies Really Healthy?
  • What Are the Differences Between Smoothies and Juices?

White Papers and E-Books

White papers provide data-driven information that primarily helps customers during the consideration stage. A white paper generally describes a problem, proposes a solution and explains why the solution works to solve the problem. An e-book, on the other hand, can be any downloadable document that provides detailed information and research or explains how to accomplish a task. During the consideration stage, Julie might provide her email address to your company in exchange for the ability to download one of the documents below. Once you have Julie’s email address, you have an opportunity to continue marketing to her until she is ready to buy.

  • Blender Stress Tests: How the Leading Blenders Handle 300 Full Containers of Ice
  • White Paper: Replacing One Meal Per Day With a Smoothie Leads to Weight Loss in 75 Percent of Volunteers
  • Starting the Day Right: Five Doctors Assess the Nutritional Value of 10 Popular Breakfast Foods

Social Media Ads

You can best tailor your social media ads to the needs of your customers during the awareness and decision stages. The type of content that your social media advertisements should include will depend upon when you’d like to reach your target buyer persona. If you want to reach customers during the awareness stage, your advertisements should focus on the features of your product or the problems that they solve. During the decision stage, it’s time for stronger sales tactics. Your advertisements should convince your target audience that you have the ideal product to solve their problem, and the time to buy that product is now. These social media advertisements might be ideal for influencing Julie during her customer journey:

  • This Mother Lost 10 Pounds in 30 Days: Find Out How
  • Watch a Blender Liquify a Commercial Ice Block in Five Seconds
  • Still Eating Muffins for Breakfast? Find Out What You Should Be Eating
  • Get Fit for Summer Sale: 35% Off All Blenders
  • See the Blender That Vitamix Doesn’t Want You to Know About

Conclusion

Creating buyer personas aren’t easy, and neither is mapping content to specific personas, luckily there are some tools to help customize, automate, produce solid results within your business:

  • Make my Perona HubSpot – quick and easy persona generator
  • Akoonu – integrates with CRM to easily automate certain content efforts, and also includes a customer journey map.
  • Xtensio – personas and content strategy templates in the same place, invaluable.

If you want your content to influence your audience, you need to begin thinking like your audience. Creating buyer personas helps you do exactly that. Each time you write content, think about the persona for whom you’re writing and tailor your content to reach that persona at a specific stage in the customer journey.

Jared Carrizales runs the team at Heroic Search in Tulsa and Dallas. HS handles content marketing, social advertising, and digital public relations. Jared has worked in the digital marketing realm for the past 9 years and has the bruises to prove it.