Should Content Curation Use Personae and Customize for Verticals? If so, How Much?

Content curation is a way of using content marketing, which in turn is a way to gain thought leadership and cement relationships with a variety of buying influences in the information technology business, you might argue. And the types of content ideally should match the interest “hot buttons” of key interest to distinct influencers.

At SAP, for example, there are traditional influencers, such as industry analysts, traditional industry media, but also social media influencers (bloggers), as well as customers, members of user groups, business partners and developers.

“Each of those groups have some influence on the technology buying process, so content efforts have to be aligned accordingly,” says SAP global communications vice president Michael Prosceno.

A key issue, though, is just how much to customize content marketing or content curation efforts to distinct personae, such as targeting distinct buying roles within a target organization, or distinct roles within a buying ecosystem.

The argument is simple enough: A board member has a different view of the world than a junior manager. A test engineer has a different set of challenges than a sales director.

A hospital administrator cares about different things than a high school administrator. An existing customer has a different view of you than a cold prospect.

In principle, targeting makes sense. But time and money are constraints for any business-to-business marketer trying to work with distinct audiences and content requirements. SAP, for example, has 2.3 million customers and partners alone, not to mention potential prospects.

Additiionally, SAP “goes to market” in 26 different industries. “The retail business is completely different from mining,” says Prosceno, but SAP has to create and curate content relevant to all 26, with real constraints on resources to do so.

As a practical matter, that has meant focusing on just 200 to 300 discrete enterprise software influencers all in an English language context. Practical measures can help, but some might argue that most B2B content curation or content marketing efforts will have to simplify.

In principle, great content is built on targeting to specific personae. In practice, few B2B marketng budgets, for firms serving big and diverse markets, are large enough to do much of that customiztion, one might argue.

Some will suggest signaling to potential content consumers that a particular brand content marketing or curation product is “for them, or not for them.” That could mean customizing for  a range of audiences that are quite technical, or mostly business focused; including prospects and customers and channel partners; software developers and well as line-of-business executives. As a practical matter, few B2B firms, marketing to many types of business verticals, will have resources to do so. One approach might be to create content vehicles for some key business verticals.

That is the approach Oracle takes, for example. But not every B2B marketing department will have the resources to do that.

With the exception of content that is “highly technical” and content intended for a “business” audience, Prosceno says he “does not make distinctions” by job function or role,  in terms of developing content or curating content. “All the audiences are really similar, with the exception that some are highly technology focused, while others are business focused.

For B2B marketers with resource constraints, a content curation effort should probably not specialize too much, concentrating instead on content of broader interest to potential buyers, existing customers and partners.