How to Use Content Mapping to Resonate With Your Buyer Personas
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To navigate from point A to point B, regardless of the mode of transportation, a map is a critical tool that can help illuminate the path of least resistance. In this same sense, a content map can depict the best routes to reach core buyer personas throughout the sales cycle in order to help them move forward in their journey with an organization.
By mapping content, go-to-market teams can better understand how to resonate best with their key buyers at critical points in time through the use of content. Meanwhile, the act of mapping can reveal gaps in existing content that marketing and enablement teams can collaborate on to fill in order to develop more effective content strategies.
“We can become the loudest voice in the room… or the other path is to figure out how to be the most relevant voice in the room, how to find the people that need what we have to offer and be of service to them,” said Henry Adaso, author of “Content Mapping”. “When we do that successfully, we have a better chance to engage and resonate with the right audience.”
The primary ingredient for success in any content mapping strategy is to ensure it is built with the specific buyer persona at the center. By breaking down the needs of each buyer persona across specific sales stages, practitioners can best identify how to personalize content to ensure it helps build trust and loyalty with the buyer. To build an effective content map that aligns to buyer needs, follow these five steps and download our template at the end of this article.
Understand the Stages of the Buyer’s Journey
The exact journey a buyer takes in their exploration of whether to partner with an organization is personal, and will vary depending on the individual and their preferences as well as their relationship with the rep working with them. However, in the practice of content mapping, it can be beneficial to group content within general phases that buyers are likely to experience on their journey. These stages include:
- Awareness: In this stage, buyers are often aware of their pain points and the need that they have. Here, they crave clarity around questions they have discovered from their own research or experiences.
- Consideration: When buyers begin to express initial interest in exploring an organization’s product or service, they can be classified within the consideration stage. In this stage, they seek further evidence that the organization can help solve their specific needs.
- Decision: At this point in the buyer’s journey, a buyer is seriously considering moving forward with purchasing the product or service from a specific organization, and are looking for final validation to prove value.
The types of content and messaging within that content will often vary across each of these stages due to the growing level of personalization and detail needed as a buyer progresses through their journey. With the needs of each stage in mind, practitioners can better determine the content that best serves the buyers’ interests at a point in time.
Define the Buyer Opportunity
Before the right content can be identified, specific buyer needs have to be parsed out as they relate to each stage in the buyer’s journey. By thinking through the core problems or pain points a buyer persona might be experiencing at a given moment, and what they might need from an organization’s product or service in order to solve it, practitioners can better understand how content can provide value to the buyer at that key point in time.
“We need to listen to the needs of our customers and understand what they need from us so that we can better serve them,” said Adaso.
To gain insight into the buyer opportunities, practitioners can utilize a few strategies:
- Gather feedback from reps. Since reps speak to customers and prospects within each persona every day, they can funnel critical real-time insights from their conversations. This can be done informally through periodic requests for feedback and day-to-day conversations with reps, or more formally through surveys, advisory councils, or one-on-one interviews.
- Interview buyers directly. While this step is a critical piece of creating buyer personas, it can be useful to conduct while mapping content to ensure needs are refreshed and up to date.
- Research industry trends. Practitioners can also keep an ear to the ground to stay on top of trends and pressing priorities within key buyer personas by reading trade publications, attending industry events, and consuming reputable research reports.
In listening for buyer needs, it is important to also balance this with an eye toward market innovation. While reflecting what buyers in each persona are actually saying and doing as it relates to an organization’s products and services, content mapping can also significantly benefit from forward thinking and anticipating potential needs that might arise. As content is leveraged and data is gathered to show how content is resonating, these hypotheses can continue to evolve to further refine the content map.
Identify the Right Content
Based on the opportunities identified, practitioners can source existing content that builds trust and credibility on each need or pain point. Often, the right content building blocks have already been created, and may just need slight updates or reframing to ensure teams can leverage it properly. Rather than reinventing the wheel, start by auditing the content existing for reps to use, including content created by other teams, to determine what can be refreshed or repurposed to fit the buyer opportunities.
“Any team that creates content for the sales org really needs to be in alignment with any other team that’s creating content for sales,” said Renee Tily, vice president of sales enablement at TechTarget. “It’s just to ensure that there’s consistent messaging and make sure that there aren’t any gaps in terms of what the sales team needs.”
Once existing content has been audited and the most relevant content pieces across each stage are identified, it can also become more evident where potential content gaps exist and where new content may need to be developed to fill these gaps. These planned content pieces can also be included in the map so that all key stakeholders involved in the creation, distribution, and use of sales content can easily understand how content will deliver value against the defined opportunities.
“It’s up to us to create, organize, distribute content in a way that fits [the rep’s] workflow,” said Tily. “It’s not necessarily what’s easiest for us as individual departments, but it’s really important to put the rep workflow first.”
Establish a Content Mix
The message and purpose of content are essential to resonate with buyers, but the format of the content can be just as important to ensure it lands effectively. Different people often consume content differently and may have varying preferences based on their seniority level, job function, performance measurement, and more.
Similarly, different content types may work best in various stages. For example, introductory brochures or competitive battlecards may work best in earlier stages, while technical video walkthroughs on particular solution features may work best in later stages when a buyer already has foundational knowledge. As such, it is important to include a variety of content formats to ensure a wide variety of preferences can be met.
“Multiple people have different things that they find appealing,” said Adaso. “In some cases, it’s numbers, it’s analytics. In other cases, people are drawn to the story, or they’re drawn to how this product can help them solve a problem. We need to be able to map our content to each of those individuals and their roles based on what it is that their job gets measured on.”
Set Clear Goals
In any content strategy, it’s important to monitor the performance of content with a critical eye to ensure it is generating the intended engagement. This means that goal-setting is essential in order to define and track the impact of content on sales performance.
By setting goals that focus on the quality of content, practitioners can continuously refine content strategies to focus only on content that helps move the needle for reps. In fact, the Sales Enablement Maturity Report 2021 found that organizations that are highly effective at ensuring sales content drives tangible business outcomes experience win rates that are 12 percentage points higher on average than those that are only effective.
“Part of what we need to do is to figure out how to increase the value of the work that we’re doing, and not necessarily turning up the volume and trying to send more emails than the competition,” said Adaso. “That means constantly reviewing and evaluating our content strategies to make sure that whatever we’re doing is actually working.”
Content mapping is an evolutionary process, and it’s important to continuously monitor content performance and revisit the strategy periodically to ensure that it is still generating the desired results.
“Our content strategy will need to be re-evaluated from time to time as we receive inputs from the marketplace,” said Adaso. “As we receive input from the organization, the brand, or the customer, we need to pivot just like we’ve done recently to make sure that we’re still able to resonate.”
By creating a comprehensive map of existing and planned content that aligns with the buyer’s journey, sales enablement practitioners can help arm reps with meaningful and purposeful content that entices buyers to take action. To start building your own content map, download our template today.