Content Marketing: The importance of a ‘buyer persona’
By Edie Reinhardt
Law firms are always looking for better ways to get their content to stand out and attract clients. Research like the 2022 Greentarget/Zeughauser State of Digital and Content Marketing Survey makes clear that corporate clients (and arguably, any type of client) seek content that is useful, relevant, actionable, and specifically tailored to their needs and interests. Most firms think they are already producing that kind of content, but in fact they are failing at it because they are not properly researching their target audience to learn as much as possible about them. Firms are relying on assumptions or developing content that tries to attract too many types of clients. Instead, they must develop a “buyer persona” – that is, a detailed fictional representative profile of the ideal client the firm wants to attract.
The point of creating and documenting a buyer persona or ideal client profile is to ensure that any content being developed specifically addresses the topics and issues most relevant to that buyer and delivers it when, where, and how they want that information. In this way, time and money are not wasted on content that is not likely to help the firm. Importantly, law firms may have one or more buyer personas for each practice area or industry they serve and there may be overlap.
Developing the buyer persona
The more detailed the profile the better, but some of the key data that should be collected about the buyer/client include:
- Demographics (age, gender, job, education, income, location, etc.)
- Company size, revenue, stage (start-up, growth, etc.), and competitors/competitive position
- Type of industry and outlook (performance, trends, forecast, key players)
- Job title and responsibilities of company decision-makers and/or gatekeepers
- Budget to address the problem and competing priorities
- Interests, concerns, and pain points
- Decision-making factors and process
- Information sources (publications, organizations, etc.)
- Level of knowledge about their problem and possible solutions.
Researching the buyer
There are numerous ways to gather information on the firm’s target buyer, including the following:
- Existing data from clients/prospects. Firms can analyze data captured in their CRM, email, and billing databases as well as speak with attorneys about their experiences with clients. They should also consider conducting surveys and interviews with clients, prospects, and other relevant contacts.
- Appending data. Companies exist that can help fill in gaps in the data using public sources, proprietary databases, and the internet.
- Marketing reports from Google and social media platforms. Firms can gain insights into the types of people interested in the firm and how, when, and where they find and engage with the firm online. For example, Google Analytics can reveal what keywords were searched by website visitors, identify third-party sites referring traffic to the firm, and track user behavior on the site.
- Industry/consumer sources. Firms should research and review publications, conferences, and other information resources that are used by the target audience.
- Social listening or monitoring. Tools are available to help firms monitor mentions of their brand and competitors’ brands on social media. They can also provide information on companies in their target market, topics of interest, news and industry developments, and other details. Some companies offering tools include Hootsuite, Mention, Sprout Social, and others.
- Competitive intelligence. Firms should also research their law firm competitors that are successfully targeting the same audience. How are they positioning themselves? What tactics are they using? What lessons can be learned about what buyers care about?
Documenting the buyer persona in writing
While it may seem obvious that understanding what buyers want is essential to developing effective content, many firms gloss over this step and rely on anecdotal information about their clients and prospects. Doing the research and then putting it in writing is the key so attorneys and marketers are on the same page with respect to who they are targeting and what that audience wants and needs. In this way, everyone is working together to ensure that every piece of content and communication is specifically designed to attract the right buyer.
Edie Reinhardt, Esq. is principal of RDT Content Marketing, which specializes in helping attorneys showcase their expertise and target their marketing to attract more clients. She can be reached at [email protected]