You’ve heard of “buyer personas” (aka ideal client profile, or avatar etc.)
You might even have a few of those sitting around – an outcome of some marketing exercises that’s collecting dust on your hard drive.
You’ve been told it’s critical for your content marketing, yet you’ve still yet to find a use for it.
Is there something wrong??
There’s nothing wrong with constructing a buyer persona. It IS an important first step.
And you aren’t doing anything wrong.
You’re missing the next two pieces of the puzzle… because, somehow, many marketing training and programs make you do the persona exercise and leave you hanging.
After working with businesses of different sizes selling both products and services, I find the most useful and impactful piece of content strategy deliverable to be the Content Mapping document.
I’m not creating these smart-sounding documents just to sound smart.
As a coach, consultant, solopreneur or small business owner, you need a strategy document you can act on, not an elaborate PowerPoint to present to the boss who’d take it to the boss of the boss.
Parsing through pages of documentation is counter-productive.
In this article, my goal is not to show you how to create the most comprehensive content strategy document that’s ever existed, or one used to market a Fortune 500 company.
I’ll show you how to capture the most pertinent information and streamline the research and best practices into something digestible and actionable. Your Content Mapping document will be succinct and useful — it’ll be something you can pass onto any freelancer or contractor to ensure consistent content creation and promotion.
The Content Mapping document is made up of three components and it’ll show you exactly what content to create for your business:
1. Buyer Persona
Yep, you need that.
However, many cookie-cutter buyer persona questions are BORING and less than helpful.
If you aren’t getting any inspiration from the run-of-the-mill templates that ask you to fill in age, race, income and marital status, try this:
Tell a story about the persona to describe her situation in relation to how your product or service is relevant (if you have different offerings, tell a story for each) –
What’s she thinking, how’s she feeling and what’s she doing? What’s her desired outcome, and how would it make her think, feel and act?
What has she done to try to solve her challenges? What worked, what didn’t, and how is your approach different from everything she has tried?
Congratulation, you just figured out why you’re relevant to your ideal client, how you can uniquely position yourself and how to get through to her from an audience-centric angle.
2. Customer Journey
Your customers or clients will go through a “lifecycle” with stages from first encountering you to making the decision to purchase from you.
Together, they make up the customer journey. To make it more organic, consider it from a storytelling perspective: explore your ideal client’s hero’s journey and how you can deliver transformation at each stage for them.
Typically, the three stages are Awareness, Consideration, and Decision.
At each stage, your potential clients are looking for different content, tools, and resources to help them. For example:
In the Awareness stage, they’re searching for solutions to a problem, but they don’t know that you exist. You could attract these people to your website by creating content that presents a solution to that challenge.
(For practitioners with a unique approach or esoteric modality, I often recommend adding some extra educational or “initiation” content to introduce a set of vocabulary to help your audience articulate their challenges and desired outcome, while positioning your expertise’s ability to deliver the results.)
In the Consideration stage, your potential clients are weighing different options to solve their problems. Let’s say they’re trying to lose weight – they could work with a health coach or they could go for diet pills. They’re searching for content to help them understand the pros and cons of their options.
In the Decision stage, they’ve selected a solution and looking for someone to provide that solution. They’re looking for content to show them why they need to choose one provider over the other one.
Content targeted to customers in each stage speaks to what they need answers for – telling them what they need to know about themselves, you and your products or services – in order to move to the next step.
3. Content Mapping
After you’ve gotten clear on your buyer persona and the customer journey, you can create a grid like so and fill in the blanks:
As you can see, you’re mapping out the different stages progressed through by each persona and you have the structure to come up with content ideas that address any particular stage for a specific persona.
But why stop here? You have to promote your content for it to be effective. You can make a note on where you want to distribute the content for it to be most effective.
For awareness stage, you’re more likely to be driving cold-ish traffic via social media posts, ads or PPC. For the later stages, you may put email marketing and retargeting ads into the mix because you’d be addressing an audience who already knows something about you.
This may take a little research on the audience or a bit of digging into your existing data. Don’t get to hung up on getting it perfect… you gotta start somewhere and when you start implementing you can always come back to fine-tune your strategy.
The channel of content distribution can, in turn, inform how you deliver the content. E.g. if your persona hangs out on Instagram or Pinterest, you’d probably want to put some focus on visual content.
4. Additional Ideas
While you’re putting this document together, you’ll probably come up with ideas that you’d want to elaborate on yet don’t fit into the content mapping framework.
You can capture theses ideas or information as an appendix to your document – e.g. promotional channels, content formats, title brainstorming, brand voice, graphic elements etc.
Last but not least, make this a living, breathing document so your persona and content idea evolve as you and your business grow.
Didn’t even take me 1,000 words to walk through this process. And I like the simple logical elegance of it.
Of course, you need to be asking the right question in order to map the right stuff because inaccurate or excessive information on the document can send you down the rabbit hole or make you run in circles.
If you want my help to get this done, I have a (possibly limited time) new service and you can check it out here.
Ling Wong :: Intuitive Brainiac | Creativity Mentor | Copywriting Alchemist. Author of Copywriting Alchemy: Secrets to Turning a Powerful Personal Brand Into Content that Sells.
Through her unique blend of marketing coaching, content experience design and copywriting process, she helps the maverick-preneurs uncover, articulate & transform their WHY into content that connects, resonates and converts — by way of an intuitive yet rigorous iterative process born out of her Harvard Design School training and 15 years experience in the online marketing industry.
Ling is Inbound Marketing, Content Marketing, and Email Marketing certified. Through her writing engagements with various SaaS and marketing companies with the goals of driving organic traffic, building readership and increasing conversion, she’s well-versed in topics including online marketing, content marketing, eCommerce, conversion, UX, social media marketing, and more.
She helps coaches, consultants, service professionals, solopreneurs and small businesses apply these best practices to their specific business models and circumstances.
Ling is an avid cyclist with OCD (obsessive climbing disorder,) runner and chocoholic.
Join her Content Marketing in Plain English webinar series here.