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Ever pick up a magazine, start flipping through to find something of interest, only to find yourself on the last page without having read anything?

That usually happens to me in waiting room at my doctor's office, where I strive to find anything of interest in piles of old issue of Psychology Today, Better Homes and Gardens, and Allergic Living. It once struck me that those are magazines that the doctor and his staff read, but not magazines that his patients are interested in reading.

If you don't want your company blog to be the equivalent of a waiting-room magazine, you need to understand your buyers and what they care about.

So who is your blog for? Customers? Partners? Investors? Ask that question at your company, and I'll bet you get a range of answers.

In my experience, companies that cannot nail the answer are missing out. Even if you decide the blog is aimed at customers and prospects, if you don't know who they are—title, responsibilities, concerns—your content will miss the mark.

The first step in understanding your buyers is creating what's called a buyer persona. Once you have the persona complete, you can apply it to your blog and create what I call a 'blog persona'—a detailed profile of your buyers and the topics they care about.

A buyer persona is a composite profile, or archetype, of a prospective buyer. The buyer persona clarifies who your buyers really are, what motivates them, how they think and talk, and what issues they face in their jobs (especially B2B buyers) and everyday lives (especially B2C buyers).

Good buyer personas come from conversations with recent buyers, not anecdotes or research using secondary sources. You need to interview buyers, or your insights will be superficial at best.

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image of Tim Matthews

Tim Matthews is VP of marketing at Incapsula and the author of The Professional Marketer. He occasionally publishes thoughts on marketing at Matthews on Marketing.

Twitter: @timmatthewssv

LinkedIn: Tim Matthews