The question was asked in a LinkedIn group recently. Specifically, in the B2B Lead Generation & Content Marketing group:
How does one approach content strategy when your business caters to so many personas and verticals? It would seem hard to manage content creation and distribution in this situation.
Good question. One many marketers — especially marketers in larger, complex B-to-B enterprises — probably face and even struggle with. In my answer I called it “The Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe Syndrome,” then suggested five ways content marketers might manage persona proliferation. You can probably think of several more. Here are the handful that came to mind for me:
Apply the 80:20 rule
Are all the personas and market verticals equally valuable to your business — and your business to them? Most businesses, if they’re honest with themselves, will recognize that while they might be capable of serving all sorts of industries and customers, there’s a smaller number that account for the lion’s share of revenue and opportunity.
If that’s the case, pick three or four key verticals or personas and gear your content strategy to them. You might also create another, catch-all content category suitable for “other” members of your audience. But by applying some formula of proportionality you’ll focus your strategy and content creation where it will create the most leverage.
Nowhere is it written that all personas must be given equal treatment. Just ask my mom — a mother of six! Consider sorting personas into two groups: Primary and Secondary. Mount a concerted content marketing effort for each Primary: a blog, a regular flow of call-to-engagement assets (e.g., webinars, ebooks), etc. For Secondaries, maybe you provide one or two significant content experiences each year. An industry benchmark study. Or an education/networking event (virtual or live).
You can only do so much for so many. But ideally you can do something valuable for almost everyone who matters. Right, Mom? ; )
Curate vs. Create
Instead of assuming you need to CREATE content for all your personas/verticals, you might choose instead to CURATE content for at least some of them. Curation might take the form of a weekly or monthly e-mail wrap-up of links to all the great content you’ve been able to find published recently within each particular persona group or industry vertical.
If your organization gets recognized for providing that sort of valuable service to a particular persona, you’re well down the road to establishing thought leadership and deeper engagement with that persona.
Speak to Their Professional Development vs. Their Current Position
Can we assume there are commonalities among all your personas? Whether they work in manufacturing or health care, do they share similar business and professional development issues and cocerns? If so, then focus your content strategy on issues and questions they all struggle with.
For this LinkedIn questioner, who apparently works for a research company, persona commonalities might include finding the right research partner for each unique marketing project they must undertake. Understanding the different, evolving research methodologies available. Communicating and “selling” the value of research up and across within their organizations.
In short, one way to shrink the number of personas is to think about your audience not as working across myriad industries, but as concentrated within a shared profession.
It could be that involving guest bloggers and other outside subject matter experts is at least part of the answer, especially for those verticals where your company’s value proposition isn’t quite as strong as it is might be in other, core areas of business (see the 80:20 rule above).
Those are five strategies that came to mind for me. I wouldn’t be surprised if there are 5 more — maybe even 50 more — ways to think efficiently about how to manage content marketing in the face of proliferating personas.
Got any you can recommend? Please share them in a comment.