Buyer personas are the second most popular criteria for content segmentation according to B2B marketers yet only 44% actually utilize them.
The written characterizations that a B2B marketer creates about the buyers who make vital decisions regarding the product, service or solution that is being offered is known as a buyer persona. This persona development is extremely useful when developing and evaluating messaging, content and offers that will differentiate your brand from your competitors.
The persona that is developed becomes a foundation for any business that depends heavily on customer acquisition, conversion, and retention. The market is filled with a huge amount of messaging that an average user gets bombarded with on a daily basis and in order to ensure that your brand messaging is unique you need to reach those users at the exact moment they need to hear from you and this is possible through creating buyer personas.
Serving as blueprints, buyer personas help B2B marketers in writing, developing and distributing their content to the right prospects through the right channels and with the right resources. In the absence of this blueprint, a successful marketing strategy cannot be built.
The customer’s journey from awareness to making the final purchase decision involves multiple steps and people which imply that it takes a long duration to turn a prospect into a customer. This is where persona development plays a crucial role as it gives insight and data about what and how to appeal to each prospect at each stage of their journey.
When developing a buyer persona there are several key areas that need to be considered:
1. Demographic Data & Personality Attributes
As B2B marketers are selling to businesses, they tend to ignore this data but they need to remember that it is people who make the final purchase decision. It is vital to understand them in order to connect with them easier. Collect data like;
- Education level
- Behavior style
- Media preference
- Content consumed
2. Firmographic Data
If an Account-Based Marketing strategy is being implemented, the buyer personas need to be mapped to each of your target profiles. Data that needs to be collected for this;
- Industry/Industries the ideal account is part of
- Number of employees
- Average annual revenue
3. Company Position Data
Knowing as much as possible about your prospect or customer’s position is important in order to have an all-round understanding of their role in their company. Data will include;
- Job title
- Daily responsibilities
- Reporting manager
- Career background
- Career path
4. Goals, Motivations, and Challenges
Apart from knowing what the prospect does within an organization, it is essential to have an understanding of their goals and obstacles. Data like;
- Individual and team goals
- Metrics for goals
- Toughest part of their job
- Problems currently being faced
- Problems of the future
5. Preferred Sources
By identifying where prospects gather their data helps B2B marketers view what kind of data is being consumed and it allows for an easy insertion of relevant content into the prospect’s experience. Data like;
- Blogs being read
- Conferences or Industry events being attended
- Research or analyst firms being utilized
Steps To Building Persona
Through time, effort and patience, B2B marketers can develop the perfect set of buyer personas. It is vital that this process isn’t sped up as it would result in failed marketing strategies. In order to build your own audience, write more engaging content that helps resolve buyer problems and addresses their interests, there are a few steps that can be followed.
1. Initiate the process internally
For the purpose of creating a clearer picture for each buyer persona, it is vital that the perspective of the internal team be collected. Ask team members of various ranks about their current clients, new trends and other industry aspects that can have a possible impact on the final persona and help in creating a consistent message from beginning to end.
2. Key questions that need to be answered
When beginning the process of building persona profiles, the key factors that need to be known must be pre-determined. Questions regarding;
- Influence the persona has on the final decision maker
- Pain points that can be tackled so as to have an effective campaign
- Marketing messages that will be resonated with
- Media through which content is sought from by the persona
3. Study the collected data
Research the channels that the ideal prospect uses, the devices they access them through, the location of the prospect, and times when they consume the most amount of data. Also make a note of how they get to your website, whether it is organic, referral or some other source. Keep a check on the number of new visitors in comparison to repeat ones.
4. Existing customer information
Talking to existing customers gives you information that Google Analytics cannot. You can find out what succeeded and what failed when it came to your marketing and what is liked about your product, service or solution.
5. Importance of personal details
When working in the B2B sphere, it is easy to forget the importance of the personal side of things and get bogged down by just the professional and formal but it is important to remember that you will be marketing to people and not just businesses. Add details like hobbies, family, interests and other factors when developing buyer personas.
6. Constant revisions
It is vital to be prepared for any and every change. Personas that work today may not work a year from now so be ready to revisit and revise buyer profiles. The ideal prospects for your solution are out there and waiting to do business with you, so make sure you target them properly at the right time through the creation of effective B2B persona profiles.
Dangers of Persona Misdirection
With the great power of the buyer persona comes the added pitfalls that arise from persona misdirection. During the process of buyer persona development, keep an eye out for the following hazards.
1. Persona Deviations and Deferrals
As your business evolves it is vital that you mold your buyer persona accordingly. If you aren’t using the persona you have developed to inspire and guide you to create content that is more relevant then spend your time creating helpful information that is needed by your prospects and customers.
2. Content Overcrowding
Personas need to help improve your marketing efforts so that the right prospects get the right content but if you haven’t used strong branding to differentiate yourself from your competitors, you might end up targeting the same buyer personas with similar content.
3. End of the road
Buyer personas, even after careful creation, oftentimes go unused. Personas need to be at the front and need to be tweaked until perfect and relevant. To know how to refine your persona, you can use a variety of qualifying methods that we talk about here: The 5 Frameworks of Lead Qualification.
4. Defining Negative Personas
Trying to make your business solution work for everyone is not a successful marketing strategy and will end up losing prospects. For this purpose, it is vital that negative buyer personas be created and this has its benefits.
- Helps the prospect know what to expect from your company
- The prospect views you as knowledgeable enough to understand your own limitations and accept them
- Attracting the attention of only those prospects that are willing and able to pay for your solution saves you money down the road
Apart from content and messaging, there are other ways to put your personas to use. Those organizations that are exceeding revenue goals have found numerous applications company-wide, including sales training, product development, customer support, marketing automation workflows and more.
The buyer of today is in constant flux and it takes immense effort and research to address their pain points and needs. Buyer personas dictate every aspect of your organization from product development, to content creation, to customer service. Due to this methodical characterization and targeting, you will attract your best buyers and will successfully be able to contribute more revenue to your company’s bottom line.