How to Put an End to Hit or Miss Content Marketing

by Carolyn Frith

According to Quote Investigator, a woodsman was once asked, “What would you do if you had just five minutes to chop down a tree?” He answered, “I would spend the first two and a half minutes sharpening my axe.

The moral of the story is, preparation is the key to success.

44 percent use personas in content marketingSometimes, however, we gloss over the groundwork as we rush to grow our businesses. This frequently happens in content marketing. A 2014 study by ITSMA reports that only 44% of B2B are currently using personas—vivid descriptions of their buyers’ motivations, buying cycles and decision-making criteria.

Those who are using personas to guide their content creation experience:

  • More and higher quality leads
  • Higher conversion rates
  • Shorter sales cycles

66 percent use personas in content marketingSo, what are the other 56% doing? Fortunately, most have seen the light. Almost half plan to create personas within the next 12 months and the majority intend to do so sometime in the foreseeable future. In the meantime, however, they’re taking educated guesses at what qualifies as engaging content with their audiences.

They write it up, dress it with graphics or video and post it on the web.

Then they wait. And often, little happens. Marketers are disappointed when few people read or share their blog post or video. Consequently, it never climbs in the search engines. Rather than being a hub of activity that draws traffic to a website, it resembles a deserted island.

Why does the content sit unnoticed and unloved?

content marketer who doesn't listenWhen they don’t understand their audience, the content that marketers serve up tends to be like a conversation with Uncle Ernie. He drones on and on about his health problems. To him, they are incredibly interesting. Not so much for you. And frequently Uncle Ernie finds himself alone at a family gathering.

If only Uncle Ernie would ask you about what interests you …

Don’t Be an Uncle Ernie

Find out what interests your audience, create content that resonates with them and be the life of the online party. That’s the path to achieving your goals.


You need to sharpen your knowledge of your buyers’ problems and decision-making process just like the woodsman sharpens his axe. Find out:

  •  What triggers your prospects to search for a solution to the problem your product solves
  • The steps in their buying process
  • The obstacles they run into
  • The information they seek
  • The criteria they use to make decisions

If you do your homework to understand your buyer, your content will float to the top in a world flooded with content.

Buyer Personas—Your GPS for Content Creationcontent map

When you conduct buyer persona research, you’ll learn about your customers’ motivations, obstacles, buying influences, and the content they consume on their journey to a solution.

It’s like typing the “to” and “from” addresses into your GPS and receiving step by step directions to guide your audience from “awareness” to “client.”

 “It’s almost like cheating, like getting the exam paper weeks before the final. Instead of guessing what matters … now I know not only what the customer wants; I know how she goes about it.” Adele Revella, Buyer Persona Institute.

How to Gather Information to Create a Buyer Persona

 To create buyer personas, I recommend you conduct in-depth qualitative interviews with recently acquired customers and clients. Also, while it’s a little trickier, try to talk with prospects you lost—they either decided not to buy or signed up with your competitor. While it’s great to know why customers came to you, sometimes the best insights come from those who walked away.

Use a researcher experienced in persona research. He or she will know how to ask open-ended questions, pull on the strings of conversations and unravel the complexities of decision making. It’s only by going below the surface that you find the insights that enable your content to stand out.

If it’s too costly to hire someone to make one-on-one phone calls, a budget-friendly alternative is social media listening. Go to any of the social media platforms where your audience hangs out and “listen” to the discussions they’re having related to the problem your product solves. Get involved in the dialog. The closer you get to your audience, the more likely you’ll be able to answer the questions that help you produce engaging content.

To learn more about creating buyer personas, call Carolyn Frith Marketing at 610-340-0622 for a free 30-minute consultation or contact us online.

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