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Content Development: The Game of Buyers

Inbound Marketing | | 5 minute read

Would you be willing to read something you didn’t understand? Let’s say I worked for a security company – would you read my case study about the connection between home security and insomnia? You would most likely scan the body of the text first, keeping an eye out for tone of voice, reading level, bulleted lists, and a form of media. What your audience enjoys reading is in-line with their buyer persona and what type of content they are searching for is parallel to their buyer journey.

<https://shareasale.com/r.cfm?b=1291521&u=1357485&m=41388&urllink=&afftrack=>No one wants to read content that isn’t enjoyable and doesn’t offer the valuable information they are looking for. When there is so much interesting content available to read – like Game of Thrones – you have to make your readers want to visit your blog or your website by appealing to their interests and their needs. By realizing what your audience wants and needs, you can grow your followers into a loyal fan base, much like George R. R. Martin has done. Take these beginning steps to realize your customers wants (buyer persona) and their needs (buyer journey).

Know Your Characters Before You Begin The Journey

Knowing who your audience is and what they want is the hardest part of developing content in the buyer journey. You must be able to obtain information about your audience such as:

  • Their demographic information (age, gender, etc.)
  • Their interests
  • Their financial status
  • Their likes and dislikes
  • Where they find their information

This information creates a buyer persona. A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your company’s ideal buyer. The persona should be based on a real person, but modified to represent a specific type of person. For instance, let’s say you are the content developer for a large security firm that creates in-home and corporate security systems and provides security personnel. Your customers are scattered all throughout Westeros, but your biggest customers are the “higher-ups,” including the king and queen. Your largest competitors are The King’s Guard, the High Septon’s army, and the knights in service to the lords and ladies of Westeros.

Once you gather the information you need, your buyer persona should be developed into a short story, like this:

Game of Thrones Buyers JourneyIron Andy

Iron Andy is between 16 and 40 years old and is aspiring to be the new King of Westeros. Most of his time is spent rallying his armies and gathering his people to his cause. He often finds himself struggling to win people over because they are currently loyal to another Lord or Lady contending for the Iron Throne.

While concerned with war, he is very loyal to his family, and will seek revenge on those who have harmed or killed any member. Sometimes he is seen as very kind, and he earns the loyalty of the Lord’s under him easily. However, he can also be very short-tempered and will often condemn others if he believes they are trying to take his crown or harm his family.

While he is very religious, he is confused about which God or Gods he should follow. In his down time, he worries about the location of his enemies, and enjoys making plans for the next castle he plans on taking. He learns most of his information from ravens, his fellow Lords and Ladies (though they can be unreliable) and court appointed “whispers” who know a lot of information that can ruin his enemies and himself.

It’s important that you name your persona in a way that is easily identifiable. Since many of the lords and ladies are competing for the Iron Throne in King’s Landing, we’ve named our persona "Iron Andy.”

This will be called your primary persona. From your primary persona, you can create secondary personas that better fit some niche markets within your primary persona. These secondary personas are usually more specific in areas such as position (or job title), resources (where they find their information), and age. In the land of Westeros, secondary personas may also include specific Paramounts (a form of hierarchy) – the North, the Vale, the Riverlands, the Westerlands, the Reach, and the Stormlands. A secondary buyers persona that is specific to one Paramount may further break the persona down into ruling families; for instance, in the North you have House Stark, House Karstarck, House Bolton, and more, all with different moral codes, interests, and personality traits.

Game of Thrones Content DevelopmentThe Game of Thrones series would never have appealed to such a massive readership if it didn’t have characters and – on some level – topics its readership could relate to. That’s not to say that Martin’s audience battles for their lives or plots murder – but the underlying feelings are relatable. Jon Snow struggles with his identity the way a reader may struggle with being adopted or having a different parent from their siblings. Cersei appeals to readers who may struggle with a need for power. As a content developer, your job is to appeal to your readership in the same way Martin’s characters appeal to his.

So, you’ve identified your buyer persona and you’re ready to head down the King’s Road – what’s next?

The Journey for Dragons

Once you understand your audience, you’ll need to move them along the buyer journey. The buyer journey consists of three stages – awareness, consideration, decision. The purpose of content development is to help guide your audience through the buyer journey, and eventually get them to complete an action like downloading a guide or signing up for a newsletter. Each stage has different characteristics and buyers in each stage will have different questions that need answered.

  • Awareness Stage – your persona has just become aware of a problem and are seeking information about that specific problem. Compelling content in a non-marketing style works best at this stage.
  • Consideration Stage – your persona is researching multiple solutions to the problem. Content that both identifies the problem and discusses possible solutions to the problem. Lightly brand oriented.
  • Decision Stage – your persona has decided on a solution to the problem and is now looking for the best value for his or her money. Offer a solution to the problem. Very detailed, heavily brand oriented, and equals the value of what you are asking the customer to spend.

Game of Thrones Buyer PersonaAs perfect and cookie cutter it would be for your leads to always begin in the awareness stage of the buyer journey, it doesn’t always happen that way. Just like Martin’s POVs shifts randomly with every chapter, leads can show up anywhere and disappear for a time before returning in a different stage of the buyer journey. One moment Tyrion Lannister is speaking to the mountain clansmen about the quality of their weapons, but the next time we hear from him, he is at the inn at the crossroads to meet with his father.  Plenty of events could have happened in that time, but when we hear from him again he clearly has another goal in mind, or is seeking new information – which is why it’s important we have content available to satisfy his next stage in the buyer journey.

Think about your product – security systems for homes and corporate offices. What type of content could you produce that persuades your audience to take the next step, and then a step after that? How do you convince all of Westeros that your favorite character should be made king? Or, better yet, try convincing Martin to not kill off your favorite character.

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Brittany Jackson

Brittany joined Pittsburgh Internet Consulting in November 2014 after graduating from the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg. Brittany is PIC's Social Media Specialist and one of our Content Developers.

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