Content marketing and the traditional buyer persona trap

We need to redefine the traditional marketing concepts: minor updates are not helpful anymore

Marketing considers itself as an up-to-date forward-looking practical body of knowledge grown around a vast amount of research and experiences. However, taking a look at the evolution of marketing, you will see a conservative traditional set of outdated rules and recommendations, trying to impose themselves to the new market paradigms.The current audience persona is just a simple of the traditional buyer persona in marketing

Just imagine the classical marketing mix, often associated with four Ps. Many people have tried to expand the model with more Ps. But still no one dares to move from P to another letter in the alphabet!

Therefore, despite the fact that there have been many concepts which could be potentially included in the marketing mix, they had to stay out because they had not been lucky enough to be started with the letter P.

I’ve just mentioned this example to reinforce my forthcoming claim that, there are many obsolete concepts in marketing that have to be forgotten or radically updated to become applicable to the current marketing challenges.

The traditional buyer persona concept in product marketing is not useful in content marketing

There are still many content marketers who try to apply the traditional buyer persona concept to the content marketing:

Even, Content Marketing Institute has an article referring to the buyer personas. However, I’m a little optimistic in CMI case as the content of the article is far beyond the traditional concept of buyer persona and it seems that the title is merely chosen for SEO purposes.

Audience Persona (AP) is absolutely different from the Buyer Persona (BP)

Unfortunately, most parts of the house of content marketing are built with the broken bricks of the traditional marketing castle.

Therefore, content marketers took the buyer persona concept and imported it to the content marketing with minor adjustments and modifications. However, there are fundamental differences between the audience persona and the buyer persona which can not be neglected.

Buyer vs. Audience

Marketers deal with buyers. The person(s) or the business(es) who are paying the price for purchasing a product or service. But, content marketers deal with the audience.

The audience may or may not buy the product. The audience is not even necessarily a potential buyer!

The audience is just the target for the message. Most probably (S)he will transmit the message to the other people who in turn may or may not be the buyer of our products.

Virality and social sharing are just two of the many fundamental basis of content marketing that clearly differentiate between the concepts of buyer and audience.

Persuading vs. Helping for informed decision-making

َAlthough both in traditional marketing and content marketing there are flavors of informing and persuading, traditional marketing has a clear bias toward persuading.

But the content marketers are mainly feeding the influencers and message transmitters. Which mean the informing and shareable content has a higher strategic value than the persuading one.

Even when content marketers are creating the content for directly feeding the potential buyer, still informed decision-making is a more effective approach.

The buyer persona concept is clearly emphasizing on the buyer needs, but the audience concept has to go further and analyze the cognitive and affective processes in the audience mind.

This goal cannot be achieved through the simple traditional demographic approach of the marketers to the buyer’s persona.

Presenting benefits vs. Building and nurturing relationships

Marketers prefer to talk about the benefits of the products. Even when they talk about the relationships, they are just seeking more time for talking more about the benefits or making more deals.

However, content strategy is based on building and nurturing relationships. Therefore, you may invest in a relationship with an audience who will not convert to a customer in the short run. Or even, invest in a relationship with the audiences who you don’t expect them anything more that resharing your content.

Profiling the potential buyers and profiling the current audiences have not so much in common.

So, the concept of audience persona for content marketing should be built from scratch and will not be necessarily close or similar to the traditional approach to profiling the buyer personas in product marketing.