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#B2BMX Preview: Ardath Albee On The Role Of Buyer Personas In Content Marketing

ardathThere is an endless amount of content in the B2B atmosphere, so it’s critical for marketers to ensure theirs stands out above the crowd. One way to do that is by telling a story. But oftentimes, B2B marketers aren’t equipped with the right information to do so. This is where buyer personas can have a significant impact on targeted messaging.

During her session at the B2B Marketing Exchange in Scottsdale, Ariz. on Feb. 22, 2016, Ardath Albee, Author & CEO of Marketing Interactions, will dive deep into the role of buyer personas in B2B content marketing and how marketers can successfully deliver stories that drive momentum.

We caught up with Albee ahead of the big event to get a sneak peek into what she will discuss during her session, titled: How Buyer Personas Power Sustainable Stories That Turn Prospects Into Customers. Read on to learn the key components of progressive storytelling and how buyer personas come into play.

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Demand Gen Report: Can you give us a sneak peek into some of the insight you'll be sharing at The B2B Marketing Exchange?

Ardath Albee: One of the biggest opportunities for differentiation for B2B companies is improving and optimizing the buyer/customer experience. Yet, most marketers feel they lack effectiveness in doing so. Persona-driven storytelling offers the ability to make this a non-issue.

While many B2B marketers will say they have buyer personas, most don’t understand how to use them to inform a content marketing strategy. And, when you say “storytelling” to them, they think of case studies or anecdotes their executives share on the stage at conferences. Or perhaps they believe that story only applies to fiction. In my session, I’m going to show them how to apply both to improve the performance and effectiveness of their content marketing programs.

DGR: What are the key components of progressive storytelling?

AA: The purpose of progressive storytelling is to motivate the audience to take action—forward steps in their buying journey. Their willingness to do so depends on how well the story you’re telling resonates—how meaningful it is to them.

The challenge for a B2B complex sale is in sustaining the story (as well as the buyer’s engagement) across the entirety of the buying process. The job of the story is to orchestrate progression by educating buyers, and the other stakeholders, answering questions that arise at each stage and providing the insights needed to remove obstacles and doubts that could derail the decision to buy.

The biggest thing B2B marketers need to understand when using progressive storytelling is that it is not a campaign. It is a continuous story told across the entirety of the buying process propelling forward movement.

DGR: How do buyer personas come into play?  

AA: Buyer personas provide the meaty insights you need to build the story meaningful enough to motivate them to take action. To make your buyer the hero of the story, you must know them really well.

A buyer persona should help you develop a narrative that reveals the story you need to share. The problem most B2B marketers encounter is that—even if they know about the other stakeholders—they tend to treat each one separately, rather than looking at how the buying committee functions as a group. A progressive story should be designed to address the differing perspectives as they relate to one another to remove obstacles as they arise at each stage.

DGR: If a marketer wanted to refresh an existing program, what criteria should they follow in order to do it effectively? 

AA: Audit your program and construct the story it tells as a whole. Content marketing isn’t about publishing more content to engage your buyers, but rather what the story comprised of your content assets helps them to achieve.

The easiest way to do this is to look at each content asset in the program and assess the following:

  • Which persona does it address?
  • What question does it answer?
  • Once they’ve learned this information, what is the next question they will have?
  • Is that answer what follows?
  • Repeat for each content asset in your program.

After you’ve done this, you should be able to see the flow of the story. Is it fluid? Or are there gaps that need to be filled to remove leaps of faith? Maybe you’ll see that content presented later in the storyline should be moved up to create a better flow. Or vice versa.

Also, assess whether the content addresses the problem or your products. If it’s not speaking to the problem and the value of solving it in a way your buyer cares about, you’ve got some work to do. You can fix this issue by showing what your product enables, rather than its feeds and speeds. As the story builds and your buyers progress through the story, the transition to product-specific information will happen naturally.