You’re Doing It Wrong…

 In Content Strategy

If you’ve read our story, you know that we, the founders of Divvy, come out of the content marketing agency world. We needed a better content planning tool for ourselves and our clients, so we built Divvy. With our backgrounds, we wanted to make sure that the methodologies and best practices of content strategy were baked into the application to help us and Divvy customers better plan and produce great content that will truly resonate with our buyers/audiences.

With all that in mind, we’re now a software provider and I get to have daily conversations with all kinds of companies about content strategy, editorial planning and the organizational structures/process that will support these efforts. Being a content geek, I love this part of my job, but I’m often surprised by some of the questions and feedback that we receive, even from some of the largest organizations in the world. One particular question sends red flags flying in my brain, so I wanted to dig into this a little in this post.

Let me paint you a picture…

Picture me in my office, laptop open, headset on (messing up my hair), GoToMeeting fired up and I’m walking a potential customer through the Content Editor interface within Divvy. We get down to the Buyer / Audience Profile(s) field that is designed to capture the specific buyer profiles or personas for which a particular piece of content is being created. Then the customer stops me and asks:

“Is there a way to hide fields that we don’t need? I don’t think we’ll use that Buyer / Audience Profiles field.”

Whoa. Red Flag.

So I ask, “Oh, ok. If you don’t mind me asking, why would you not use that field?”

“Well…I get that it’s important, but our organization just isn’t there yet.”

“So…you haven’t done any buyer profiling or persona development?” I ask.

“No. I mean we generally know the audiences we’re targetting, but we haven’t done anything formal or that in-depth.”

You’re Doing It Wrong

So I’m obviously not going to come right out and say that to a customer on the phone, but I’m certainly thinking it. In our world, persona development is the foundation of everything. If you haven’t done that, your content is going to miss the mark. You will be wasting your time and money, and potentially jeopardizing the effectiveness of your future marketing efforts, period.

I’m not going to even attempt to explain the value of buyer profiling/personas in this blog post because people much smarter than I have written entire books on this subject. Instead, here are some must-read resources that you should dig into if you feel that your organization might be floating in this leaky boat.

Read These, Like, Today!

  • Anything from David Meerman Scott – Here’s his “buyer personas” category page on his blog. Read all of these posts. I’m not kidding. Tons of great success stories from companies who have put in the time, done the work and are now reaping the rewards.
  • The Elements of Content Strategy by Erin Kissane – Erin has written the book on content strategy, literally.
  • Adele Revella, The Buyer Persona Institute – I’d consider Adele the Godmother of buyer personas. She runs the Buyer Persona Institute and provides training for marketers across the globe.
  • Content Marketing Institute – Many great minds within the content marketing industry have published killer articles about buyer personas on the CMI blog. Here’s a link that will get you started.

2013 – The Year You Start Getting it Right

If you’re truly serious about leveraging content to reach your business goals, you need to go through a proper persona development process. Whether you are doing this internally or hiring a consultant to help you get it done, just get it done. I promise you will see immense value and find so much clarity within this exercise.

Best of luck to you in 2013!

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