Buyer personas in B2B content marketing: a round-up of resources

B2B content marketing personas

It took us a while to come around to calling target audiences ‘buyer personas’ but we’ve grudgingly stepped on to the jargon train.

After all, a buyer persona is much more than a simple target audience description — done right, each one should be a rich profile that captures the most important dimensions of a given target audience sector. The result is a powerful guide for writers, designers and content strategists.

As a writer, I rely on a clear buyer persona to give me a specific image of the person I’m writing for. And building a buyer persona development stage into any major content marketing project flushes out any differences within the team about exactly who the target audience is — the kind of differences that can kill a project if exposed too late.

Check out these buyer persona resources

With that in mind, here’s a round-up of our favourite persona-related resources from around the web. I hope it helps you clarify your approach to buyer personas and gives you new ways to capture your target audience dynamics:

The Buyer Persona Institute blog is Adele Revella’s excellent site all about personas. Her Five Rings of Insight — Priority Initiatives, Success Factors, Perceived Barriers, Buying Process, Decision Criteria – really help you nail the dimensions that will guide your content marketing. Jeff Ogden did an excellent interview with Adele on Mad Marketing TV.

Buyer Personas – Where and How to Start an excellent post from Jeremy Victor of B2B Bloggers. I like this quote: “A buyer persona enables you create marketing content that is for someone and not everyone.” I also like his Buyer Persona Questionnaire on Slideshare .

An interview with Tony Zambito – by Stephanie Tilton of Savvy B2B Marketing. Tony is one of the pioneers of the buyer persona so he’s got a good view. He feels that, “buyer personas have been oversimplified and have lost touch with their original intention….the static snapshot of a single buyer is a key problem with buyer personas today.”

SpotOn Vision’s Persona Marketing slide deck this is an excellent introduction to buyer personas, with examples and rationale.

What Purpose Do Your Buyer Personas Serve? – A short, insightful post from Ardath Albee of the Marketing Interactions blog. Including a sweet picture of her dog, Bella.

Four Tips for Improving Web Personalisation – Maria Wasing of EPiServer posts on the always excellent Econsultancy blog about buyer personas specifically for targeting web content.

A nice, simple buyer persona sheet – In this post, Martine Hunter of MLT Creative shares this nice, crisp way of capturing a buyer persona:

MLT creative's persona sheet

Know any other content, posts or insights into B2B buyer personas or target audience descriptions for content marketing? Drop them in the comment box.

UPDATE — Ryan has published this EXCELLENT post on personas and emotion and empathy. Do check it out.


Hello Doug,

Thank you kindly for the reference. Since I pioneered the modeling of buyers and the concept of a buyer persona a dozen years ago, the idea of a buyer persona has continued to evolve. More and more B2B marketers are looking beyond the simple concept of creating a templated buyer persona and moving towards a true understanding of modeling buyers in today’s complex environments. It has been a tremendous journey working with organizations who have embraced the idea of research-based modeling of buyers and how buyer personas are a form of communicating as well as illuminating buyer research that informs critical marketing strategies.

Many thanks!
Tony Zambito

Thanks Tony — honoured to have you drop in and contribute to the topic no one knows better!

I’m so pleased to be included in your round-up Doug, and even happier that we’ve managed to convince you that personas are an essential aspect of content marketing.

The idea of knowing one’s audience is certainly not new, but the specificity of these few insights into how and why buyers choose a particular solution has a profound impact on content quality, plus just about every other aspect of marketing. Marketers are discovering that they can conduct a very specialized kind of interview and learn facts that the buyers haven’t shared with anyone else.

I really appreciate your help with spreading the word buyer personas. Let me know if there is anything I can do to return the favor.

Thanks Adele.
You’ve done fantastic work helping marketers understand just how important buyer personas are and how to make them better.
It’s like so many things in marketing, you get out what you put in.
The kind of rich profiles you advocate really do pay dividends.
Thanks for dropping in!

Thanks for mentioning us Doug!
It is indeed an extremely important element of content marketing strategy, however ik keeps surprising me how many companies in B2B don’t use it (despite realizing the importance of it). I guess the process is really scary:)

I think you’re right, Shimon.
Or maybe people think they know their buyer personas instinctively so don’t have to take the time to capture them and get buy-in from the team.

Hi Doug,

Thanks for the mention! Buyer personas offer marketers who use them to inform their content strategies a huge benefit.


    Thanks Ardath — your book is one of the things that got me into personas!

I am the owner of a small and specialized German inbound marketing consultancy. Persona modelling is very important for my consulting approach. And it takes always quite some bit of explaination. People ask: “Why not simply sticking with a target group definition?” For me such reactions proof that it will take some more time – at least in Germany – till we all understand what the rise of social media and the power of search means for businesses.

Howdy! This post couldn’t be written aany better! Looking through this post reminds me of my previous roommate!

He continually kept preaching about this.
I most certainly will send this post to him. Pretty sure he’s going too have a
great read. Many thanks for sharing!

How to do personas when my customer list is big and segmented by verticals and industry .I cant go and create personas for every one, one by one right ? How to tackle this ?

    We’ve seen companies who go ahead and create personas for every industry and job title – adding up to… LOTS.

    And we’ve seen companies who group them up, doing the key job titles, then adding ‘spins’ for key industries.

    I’d say do as many as you need to do to actually guide your marketing – and no more. If they’re helpful, do them, if not, stop!

    Not sure that helps…

The fact that this post continues to attract traffic and comments is a testament to the quality and presentation of its creators.

Congratulations to all involved.

I discovered it following links from your 2012 Content Marketing Strategy Checklist.

    Thanks Roger! Content is evergreen indeed…

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