An essential step in developing a B2B marketing strategy is identifying your target audience. In the marketing world, we refer to these different audiences as “personas.” A buyer persona is a fictional, generalized representation of your ideal customers. Depending on your business, you could have as few as one or two buyer personas or as many as 20.
The information gleaned from creating buyer personas gives you powerful insights about your customers. Using both qualitative and quantitative research, you can get a better understanding of your buyer personas and create content that addresses their specific needs, behaviors, and concerns.
Buyer Personas help you answer the following questions:
- Who is my customer?
- What type of information are they seeking?
- How do we best communicate with them?
- How do they make buying decisions?
- What problem does our product solve for them?
- When are they most likely to make a purchase?
Answering these questions will help you develop a content strategy that focuses on your target audiences and addresses the problem they are trying to solve. So how do you gather this information? Let’s take a look at research methods.
Company Information – Your CRM holds a plethora of information, and if looked at carefully, you can begin to identify trends in that data. By running a few reports, you should be able to find similarities in company profiles such as industry, company size, or the number of employees your clients have. This information is ideal for identifying particular challenges in that industry or business size. SMBs and enterprises may use the same products or services, but their buying cycles and motivations may differ dramatically.
Decision Maker Information – To complement the company information, gathering data about the decision-makers within the enterprise provides a deeper understanding of the actual person or people that are looking for a solution. CFOs and sales managers have much different job roles and will use different criteria to evaluate certain products or services. The CFO is likely looking at the financial impact your solution will have, while the sales manager is critiquing usability and feature functionality. Understanding the difference in evaluation metrics will allow you to craft content that speaks specifically to their job function.
Qualitative Research Methods
Customer Surveys – Surveys with open-ended questions provide valuable information about your client’s motivations and goals. What prompted them to seek out a solution? What problem did your product or service solve? What hesitations or evaluation challenges did they encounter? The answers to these questions allow you to get inside your customer’s head and create personas based on actual data, not just your perception of what they think. Phone & In-Person Interviews – Talking to your existing customers gives you the opportunity to gain further insight into their buying habits, motivations, and their perception of your product. While a survey allows respondents to provide as much or as little information as they like, interviews enable you to take those responses one step further and dig deeper on specific issues. Yes, these can be more time-consuming and expensive, but the data you collect here is invaluable.
Ex-Customer or Lost Deal Surveys – It’s never fun to lose a customer, but they can give you insightful (and often brutal) feedback on why they left you or didn’t choose you in the first place. This information is powerful in that it reveals their motivations to seek alternative solutions. We tend to avoid these surveys since they are rarely positive. But no matter how painful the feedback, the information you gather here can help you not only identify how to gain the customer but also how to keep them.
Things to Identify
Once you have collected your customer data, it’s time to analyze this data and start forming some solid conclusions to help formulate your buyer personas. Here are a couple of things to look for:
Motivational Drivers – Your customers are all seeking to solve a similar problem, but their motivations may be different. As previously mentioned, C-level buyers and managers have different obstacles to overcome. While the product or service may be the same, the reason they chose the product is quite often very different.
Purchasing Hesitation – Look to determine any preconceived notions or doubts regarding your services. In some cases, a customer’s uncertainty may prompt them to walk away from your service before they get a chance to evaluate it thoroughly. Identifying these concerns can help you change how they view your product or service and develop content that will help ease those fears.
Evaluation Criteria – If possible, try to identify how your customers evaluate you against the competition. There are likely specific pieces of content that can help them quickly evaluate your services compared to others in the industry. If you can make the evaluation process easier for them, they will certainly value the assistance in making the process easier.
Personas allow you to personalize or target your marketing strategy for different segments of your audience. By creating strong buyer personas and tailoring your message accordingly, you can create a marketing strategy that is sure to win.
Our team of experts has the industry experience and a wealth of data to help you build your unique buyer personas. Give us a call or contact us for more information.