If you build a product they will come, says no one. In today's hyper-competitive scenario, if your plan is to succeed, your selling and marketing needs to be targeted, relevant and personalized. And the way to do that is to build a solid marketing foundation by defining and understanding your buyers better.
One of the challenges while developing sales and marketing strategies that I see is when clients do not take the time to get to know ‘who’ they are marketing to. They think they know their customers just because they know their target vertical, but the two are different and knowing the industry doesn’t mean they know their prospects well.
Building a buyer persona is truly about delivering Respect to your customer. How so? Because by knowing your customers better and what matters to them, you can serve them better in an unobtrusive, frictionless way.
For you, as a marketer, buyer persona is a critical piece of your marketing efforts. It impacts all aspects - product development, messaging, sales enablement content, ads and email, lead generation and customer acquisition efforts.
So What Is A Buyer Persona Exactly?
Buyer persona or customer persona is a research-based ideal buyer representation based on your actual customer’s challenges, needs, motivations, priorities and behavior. It’s a way for you to get into your ideal prospect's heart and mind to know what to say, when, where and how to say it, so you can influence their purchase decision in meaningful way.
In a B2B setting, where you target accounts instead of individuals, it’s not possible to develop personas of every single prospect on every buying team, so they are grouped based on customer segments.
What To Keep In Mind While Developing Buyer Persona
While developing personas keep your customers front and center as well as their buying realities. You would think this is obvious but would be surprised to learn how often teams and businesses forget this. They make their own product lines the center instead.
It's important to keep in mind that you are developing personas to learn how your buyers make purchase decisions, what motivates them to pull the proverbial trigger and what you need to say or do so you can influence them in your favor while delivering a superior buying experience. It's not just about how innovative your technology platform is but about you positioning yourself as an invaluable partner to the. members of the buying committee.
Personas must be authentic and objective not include your personal biases and inferences
They must be useful and actionable, so you can utilize them in your initiatives and share with internal teams
They must include actual stories, comments and quotes from actual buyers who have made technology purchases before
They must not include interview sales, in-house team members or non-customers irrelevant to your business
They should include buyer insights based on 5 factors (as defined by buyer persona institute)-
Priority - What pain points and priorities causes buyers to invest in making a change?
Success - What success do they hope to achieve once they implement your solution?
Barriers - What are their percieved barriers to change or doing business with you?
Decision - What criteria is most essential for buy as they evaluate vendor options?
Buyer's journey - Who on the buying team and what factors influences decision?
Cut The Fluff
As critical as buyer persona is, only 44% of marketers actually have a buyer persona. And only 83% of them find it somewhat useful. One big reason is because a lot of the time, the persona isn’t built the right way. It includes generic information and lays emphasis on things that aren’t really very important in the grand scheme of things.
Let’s look at some ways you can trim what is unnecessary -
1.Personas are built in isolation and findings aren’t shared - Often marketing who develops a persona does so alone. And the worst is when they don’t share their insights and findings with others. They sit somewhere, in a file, which beats the whole purpose of why they were developed in the first place.
2.Apparent information that isn’t actionable - The goal of the buyer persona is to go beyond the obvious and uncover what isn’t. So by including things such as -
CTO is interested in innovation
CMO is interested in better conversion rate
CIO is responsible for enterprise-wide transformation
It doesn’t really help.
3.Unhelpful Pictures - The goal of a buyer persona is to create a semi-fictional representation and bring it to life. And a picture definitely ties all the data together. I am all for it , what is unnecessary is using a picture of Buddha just because the CTO is spiritual and likes to meditate.
4.Useless Information - Does it matter that the CEO has a PHD or that he went to Harvard? Or that he/she doesn’t like to watch Superbowl? Or that he/she has a calm demeanor. Details such as this might be great to know in sales conversations but when it comes to planning marketing campaigns for your product and services, they wouldn’t serve any real purpose.
5.Don’t factor in the Buying committee - Modern buyers make purchase decisions as a team not individually. How do they share information between each other? What kind of information do they share? These are all vital points that shouldn’t be ignored.
What To Include In A Buyer Persona
A buyer persona should include every useful information that you can use in your sales and marketing initiatives. You want to know your B2B buyer’s job related highlights and lowlights. You want to take into account - firmographic, technographic, demographic and psychographic data while developing these.
Let’s look at what to include -
1.Job title and profile - A title is necessary in knowing who they are and what their job responsibilities are. It also helps you determine what role they will be playing within the buying committee. You want to know who they report to and manage. Also the size of the company they work at.
2.Media, Information and Technology Preferences - What they read, where they consume content (social platforms) and what tools and sources they trust is important to know for your messaging and content marketing.
3.Goals and Objectives - What are their personal and professional aspirations, goals and objectives? Why are they wanting to invest time, money and effort into making this changes? What are their organizational priorities and values? What outcomes do they hope to achieve once they implement the change?
4.Challenges and Concerns - What are their current problems, daily struggles, pain points, frustrations and challenges. What are their perceived barriers - a prior bad experience with you or someone else? Why will they invest in status quo? Why will they not pick you as their choice? Why would they pick your competition?
5.Motivators - What drives them? What motivates them personally? What do they really care about at their job? What matters to them professionally? How will achieving success impact their job ? What will it mean to them personally? All these questions can help you learn about their internal drivers.
6.Fears - What are their fears around their job? Is there something that keeps them up at night?How will your solution alleviate their job related fears?
B2B Buyer Persona Example
While you can develop your own buyer persona questions and template, here is one I liked extensively showcases all the information needed to get to know your prospects better.
What you are really trying to do by gathering all this information for building your buyer persona is to go past the surface details and get a peak into your prospective buyer's mindset. Once you demonstrate you understand them well by acting on these insights, you not only gain competitive edge but also build trust that isn't really replicable.