Here’s Everything You Could Ever Want (or Need) to Know About B2B Buyer Personas...
How do you make sure, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that your marketing will hit home?
Learn to understand your customers at their core and speak to them accordingly.
As B2B marketers, we all know that your message lives at the core of every piece of marketing that you put out as a business, but the first rule of good messaging is to know your audience.
Whether you’re selling to businesses or consumers, it all comes down to understanding who your customer is and how they make buying decisions.
This all starts with developing a detailed buyer persona that nails down who your customer is and defines the different unique ways to appeal to their purse strings.
Buyer personas can impact your brand messaging in a myriad of critical ways, but they’re not always as widely known or used as they should be.
Believe it or not, many business owners think they know who their ideal customer is, but haven’t taken the time to sit down and put together a detailed persona snapshot.
To help you get the most mileage out of your marketing, we’re going to help you understand and develop a snapshot for your primary customer base in this article.
First Of All, What Is A Targeted Buyer Persona?
In short, a targeted buyer persona is a snapshot of who your ideal customer(s) is, what sort of things can impact their purchases, and how that can impact your bottom line.
This detailed snapshot should detail:
- The age range of the person(s).
- Dominant gender of your demographic.
- Their marital and familial status.
- Their profession and current income.
- What sort of things interest them.
- How they typically make their buying decisions.
- Where they tend to spend their time, both online and offline.
- What sort of challenges they are faced with on a daily basis.
- How they typically overcome those challenges.
- What potential objections they may have to working with you or buying from you.
There are a ton (a metric ton) of potential details that you could learn about your ideal customer that will be important when it comes time to create marketing content to appeal to them.
Honestly, this is one of the few situations in life where you really cannot have too much of a good thing.
So, when you’re creating your buyer persona, dig deep and spare no detail.
Why Do You Need A Buyer Persona As A B2B Marketer?
Let’s be real; knowing who you’re selling to is more important than breathing.
Well, maybe not. But, close.
So here’s a quick rundown….
Targeted Buyer Personas help you tailor your messaging and marketing to better attract, engage, and inspire your audience to perform the action you want them to.
Every business needs to know who they’re catering to. Unfortunately, more often than not, your understanding of your customer may be a little off the mark.
Taking the time to work through a detailed customer avatar snapshot can help you uncover how to deliver on the deeper benefits of understanding your customer:
- Create A Buyer-Driven Experience
- Personalize Your Marketing Message
- Generate More Qualified Leads
- Maintain Message Consistency
- Align Marketing & Sales
- Optimize Ad Targeting
To drive this home a little further, here are a couple of really heavy stats that may put things into perspective:
Buyers are 48% more likely to consider solution providers that personalize their marketing to address their specific business issues. (Source: ITSMA)
A MarketingSherpa case study found that buyer personas added the following value:
- 900% increase in length of visit,
- 171% increase in marketing-generated revenue,
- 111% increase in email open rate,
- 100% increase in the number of pages visited. (Source: Act-On)
Behaviorally targeted ads are 2X as effective as non-targeted ads. (Source: HiP)
In the case of Thomson Reuter, buyer personas contributed to a 175% increase in revenue attributed to marketing, 10% increase in leads sent to sales, and a 72% reduction in lead conversion time. (Source: DemandGen Report)
What Role Does A Buyer Persona Play In Your Business?
A buyer persona can impact nearly every aspect of your business, from conception to marketing, and everything in between.
Developing a strong customer avatar should be the first thing every business does, even before developing a business plan. The truth is that you can’t truly determine product-market fit without taking the time to take a good, hard look at your ideal customers.
In fact, a quality customer avatar can mean the difference between a successful sale and a blow-off, especially in business-to-business engagements.
Here are just a handful of business-critical processes that can be affected:
- Go-to-Market Strategy
- Operational Processes
- All Marketing Copy
- Business Plan
- Sales Scripts
- Product Placement
- Marketing Channels
- Marketing Message
The list could go on, but the point is simple: skipping or undervaluing your customer avatar is a mistake that you can’t afford to make.
Who Will Benefit Most From A Buyer Persona Within Your Company?
So, with a keen understanding of your ideal customer, who will benefit the most from that information?
The short answer is; everyone.
Marketing Department – Website and ad efforts are more effective and generate more raw traffic and leads, resulting in better marketing efficacy.
Sales Department – Leads are far more qualified leads before they are sent to sales, resulting in more closed sales.
Leadership – Revenue and overall ROI is higher and customer churn is lower, resulting in a happy board of directors.
Now that you know what a buyer persona is, it’s time to figure out how to build one specific to your unique audience and market.
How To Build An Accurate B2B Buyer Persona That Works
Building a functional persona is not as simple as outlining the age and profession of your ideal customer and calling it a day. Unfortunately, while that information is useful for general ad targeting, it doesn’t help you tailor your message to meet the customer’s needs.
Instead, you have to dig deep and get into the personal nature of making purchases. The truth is that most humans make buying decisions based purely on emotion, not logic.
So, to help you build an accurate buyer persona from scratch, we’ll walk you through all of the critical steps to building an avatar; from the types of personas to where to get the info you need:
What are the different types of B2B buyer personas?
When it comes to evaluating your customer base to define the right persona for your market and products, there are three specific types of B2B personas to consider:
Direct – A direct persona is typically going to be the final decision maker in the business’ buying process. This might be a departmental head, CEO, or even the accounting department.
Indirect – An indirect persona is going to be a user who happens to be on the front lines but has no true decision-making power. This person recognizes that they have a problem and need a solution, and will do a ton of research on their own to find and vet options. Then, they’ll send the info up the chain to the powers that be.
Medial – This particular persona is basically a unicorn. They are both on the front lines and recognize the problem AND function as the primary decision-maker. This type of persona is more likely to be present in smaller, tight knit companies or startups running a lean business model.
Depending on your industry, you may have any variation and combination of direct and indirect personas. Chances are, you will have a couple of indirect users who will do the grunt work and then send the info up the chain for a purchasing decision.
If you’re lucky, you may have one unicorn persona that ties it all together and makes your job easy. But, if that’s the case, your persona will likely change as the market evolves and your buyer persona will need to be adjusted regularly. Startups don’t stay startups for long!
How many buyer personas do you need?
This question is best answered with a little research. Realistically, you should have one distinct customer snapshot for each unique customer type or each person in the decision-making ladder.
Typically, three is a good place to start.
But, you may find that you only have one distinct persona, or you may find that you have six.
The 7 Critical elements of a strong buyer persona.
Developing a functional snapshot of your ideal customer has many moving parts to take into account; seven, in fact.
Each of these elements directly informs the personality and actions of the persona you’re developing and helps you understand how to really speak their language.
General Demographics – This includes basic targeting elements like age, gender, location, income level, marital status, profession, and education.
Role Responsibilities – When it comes to B2B relationships, outlining exactly what your customer is responsible for in their profession can open up many lines of communication and provide insights into their unique pain points.
Goals – Find out what the customer’s underlying goals are as they relate to their job and positioning your product or service as the solution to help them reach those goals.
Challenges – When it comes to the intersection of their goals and daily responsibilities, what sort of challenges are they facing? This directly relates to how you can solve their problems and the kind of verbiage you can use to appeal to them.
Information Sources – Where are your customers spending time or getting information, online or offline? This could be books, magazines, blogs, or specific gurus that they trust to answer their questions or help them get ahead on their goals.
Possible Objections – What are all of the possible reasons that your customer could find to say ‘no’ to working with you or buying from you? These objections may be obvious, or they may take a little digging to uncover.
Personal Motivations – Now, push the technical details of the customer’s day aside and take a look at their personal motivations for achieving their goals or overcoming the challenges. What is their deeper reason for looking at a solution like yours?
Here’s an example of a complete B2B buyer persona:
This particular persona happens to be one of Inke Digital’s primary personas.
Top 6 reliable sources to find your customer data.
Now that you know what you’re looking for, how can you find the customer data that you need to build a solid persona?
While there are a ton of good sources for customer data, we find that these six are the most reliable and easiest to access:
- Testimonials and/or Reviews
- Social Groups
- Q & A Forums
- Industry-related Amazon Book Reviews
- Competitor Testimonials
- Customer Surveys
- Customer Service or Support FAQs
How do you decipher your customer data?
When you’re digging through all of the potential sources available for customer data, what exactly should you be looking for?
Well, each of the sources has their own slight caveat, but the overall gist is to look for commonly occurring words or phrases.
- Start with one source and search for a broad keyword or one of the primary questions that you believe your customer might ask. (ex: Amazon)
- Check out the top reviewed result.
- Take a look at the title, description, and customer reviews for the result.
- Look for commonly repeated phrases, questions, feelings/emotions, keywords, and interests.
- Look specifically at both the really good reviews AND the really bad ones to find commonalities and what NOT to do.
How Do You Implement & Use Your New Buyer Persona?
With a new buyer persona burning a hole in your pocket, how do you put it into practice?
Well, there are a couple of things that affect how you can use a persona, such as:
- The number of personas you’re working with.
- The size of your company.
- The number of team members you have available to implement the changes.
- The overall volume of existing marketing materials to be revised.
Obviously, it will be a bit more complicated to implement several buyer personas into a relatively large company, but you’ll need to take everything into consideration when planning your implementation.
To put your new buyer persona into practice, you’ll want to:
- Perform a full content audit so you know what you’re working with and can take stock of pieces that need more attention than others.
- Organize your content into priority sections. Content that receives the most traffic should be highest priority.
- Distribute a documented buyer persona guide, preferably in conjunction with a brand voice and customer journey outline, to all relevant team members.
- Schedule edits to your content in order of priority. Do this in waves, rather than trying to push it all at once.
How to make sure it’s working properly.
To ensure that your buyer persona is on point and has been implemented properly, you’ll want to schedule regular reviews of both the persona and the related content.
We recommend quarterly reviews for the first year after implementing a new buyer persona and/or messaging strategy.
After that, reviews are up to you. Go with your gut and review as needed to solve any issues with your marketing engagement.