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Learn Your Buyer Personas to Optimize Your Content Distribution Strategy

By Clare Tyrrell-Morin. Content Creation
Image Credit: SergeyNivens/DepositPhotos

Effective promotion of your content marketing work requires a deep understanding of your target audience personas.

Content marketing teams are pumping out more content than ever before in 2017—but without a clear sense of how readers are going to find it.

According to the B2B Content Marketing 2017: Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America, 70% of content marketers were planning to increase their amount of content from 2016-17. But only a third of the 88% of marketers surveyed said they had a documented content marketing strategy in place.

This is a problem. Derek Halpern of Social Triggers recommends spending 20% of one’s time on content production and a whopping 80% on promotion. To do that requires a very structured promotion plan—built within a robust, larger content marketing strategy. You will need a distribution strategy that allows you to automate the process—sending out the content at the right time to the right platforms, and connecting with the right readers every single time. And that entire process begins with knowing who your audience is.

Here’s how to do it:

1. Recognize the benefits—and sheer joy—of distribution

Before we get to the audience, let’s start with you, dear content creator.

To get this right requires a fundamental mindset shift. You need to learn to not only like to distribute—but love it. If you’re anything like me (and a lot of folks apparently are), you may have stumbled your way into content marketing via journalism. Perhaps you spent your early days working in newsrooms where physical walls were built between editorial and advertising departments. I spent my 20s working as a writer in Hong Kong at the now-defunct but rather legendary HK Magazine. In those days, editorial lived on the fourth floor, advertising lived on the second floor, and never would the twain meet.

Yet after a couple years of entertainment writing, I drifted down the hallway and joined the marketing department. It was here that I met the magazine’s distribution manager, a spreadsheet wizard—let’s call her Sammy—who spent long, focused days massaging and updating her list of hundreds of venues where the free weekly magazine would be placed. Every day that list would be optimized.

I’ve been channeling Sammy ever since I moved into content marketing; I’ve realized that we need to embrace her persona to do this job well. We need to wear a few hats, and be sure to spend part of our week being the careful distributor—a list-making, tool-wielding maverick, who knows with certainty that the content is finding its readers. In short, we need to build a distribution strategy. And the first step to doing that is knowing your audience.

2. Do market research

Who are your current customers and what are their core interests? What do they want to read about? It sounds obvious, but you’d be amazed how many marketers can get stuck in an inward-looking, brand-obsessed headspace. Focus on your reader instead. Where do they spend time on the web to elicit information and inspiration about the very product or service you are selling? Spend time with your sales team to get to know these readers. Find out what questions come up often in conversations, what issues are top of mind.

3. Build buyer personas

Now build accurate buyer personas. This is your key, critical resource—your editorial and distribution compass. It will inform not only what you write about, but how to promote it.

Give each persona a name, job title, and why not throw a photo there so they start to feel like real humans? List their pain points, responsibilities, and the issues they are grappling with. This is your empathy-maker—it’s how you will build trust and relevance and make sure every piece of content connects with its reader.

Then ask: Where do they spend their time? Are they usually on LinkedIn or do they head to Facebook to find their info? Look at the groups they are relying upon, the types of content they prefer to access at lunchtime—blogs or reports? Analyze this alongside your buyer journey, tracing where the content and business strategy and reader align.

4. Target, target, target

This will allow you to commission copy that is perfectly formed for the readers you have identified—and it will give you the data to slot into a distribution plan. This is a plan that is entirely targeted. You will use organic tools such as searchable hashtags and place the content in all the right reader groups, and uploaded to social media in scheduled blasts. You will schedule in paid promotion methods with segmented audiences on Facebook or LinkedIn according to their interests, location, job title, and so on. You may use Google AdWords and ad retargeting to promote the content further.

But crucially, to keep you from getting overwhelmed doing all of the above each time you roll out a new piece of content, you will create a distribution list you will use for every piece of content you create—from blogs to eBooks and SlideShares. This list will help you to make distribution a natural part of your workweek, woven into the very fabric of your content schedule. When this happens, you’re working like a publishing house, it’s effortless, continuous—and readers will find you.

To learn how to do this, download our eBook.

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Clare Tyrrell-Morin

Clare Tyrrell-Morin brings 15 years of international marketing and editing experience to Eucalypt Media. Born in the UK, she spent a decade in the Asian media industry as arts writer for the South China Morning Post newspaper, founding art editor of Time Out Hong Kong, and marketing and events manager for Asia City Media. She moved to Maine in 2009 with her husband and has been enjoying the pristine air ever since.

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