Audience personas have anchored modern B2B marketing for decades. We’ve gotten increasingly detailed, even scientific, about our prospective customers’ daily lives — everything they do, think, experience, and feel within their work and beyond. Most of us wouldn’t think of going to market without that insight, particularly if our product involves a complex purchase cycle.
Yet the conventional marketing model hits an emotional chord upfront, then abandons feeling when buyers need it most — the extended period where they seek helpful information. Brands can no longer afford these intrinsic emotional lags.
As a deeper understanding of customers leads us to develop more elaborate content ecosystems, we need to create experiences that connect with their emotions at each stage of the journey. To do it, we need to think about content in different flavors or “personalities.” That way we can systematically support awareness, consideration, commitment, and satisfaction, in a more fluid environment.
Understand the emotive journey. What happens to people, emotionally and rationally, when they engage with content at different stages of exploration and consideration? When we know this, we can identify gaps where they need more empathy, information, or storytelling.
Advocate for the category. The more complex the product, the more we need to start by explaining the problems our category can solve and portray the better business (and life) products like ours enable. Think of it as the human solution.
Teach, then promote. Educational videos and downloadable white papers (content/tools) give customers the understanding they need to be confident. Then they can appreciate examples of what the product can do.
Support with storytelling. Storyteller content establishes credibility and connects emotionally by providing relatable examples. In particular, this often includes stories of real people who have solved similar problems with help from the brand to provide assurance.
Align the entire experience. Using content personas effectively means delivering an effective experience at each stage in the buyer’s journey. For example, advocating for the category moves prospects to actively consider a purchase, then more educational content makes them comfortable taking a meeting with sales. Having a diverse array of content and mapping it to the buyer journey creates a better experience for them and better performance for marketers. This is equally important post-purchase.
Customer personas are fixed, but content personas are fluid. B2B needs to transcend the convention of simply intercepting people, and instead meet them with the appropriate emotion for each touch point. By introducing a content mix with specific purposes, we can bring emotional connection throughout the buyer journey and beyond.
This article was originally published in an earlier edition of Marketing Insider.
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