It can be daunting to approach a diverse audience without narrowing down the members who make up that audience. Not to mention, any content marketing you do without profiling your audience is bound to miss its intended mark. This is where creating customer profiles or buyer personas comes in. By profiling your customers and working with personas, you narrow down your audience into workable groups.
What is a Buyer Persona?
A buyer persona is a model of the customer you wish to target. Personas represent the needs, goals, behaviors and concerns of the audience you intend to reach. They are an indication of how your audience thinks, what drives them to buy and why they buy in the first place. Personas are important for the following reasons:
To Ensure High Quality Lead Generation
Creating a buyer persona tells you who is likely to buy your product. This is the first step to attracting high quality leads. With quality leads, you can increase conversion rates, shorten sales cycles and minimize marketing spend.
To Customize Your Content Marketing Campaigns
Conceptualizing your optimum buyer before creating content for them makes it easier to create content that:
- Addresses specific persona concerns/pain points
- Is relevant to each buyer stage. If creating multiple personas will help with lead generation, you should do so and then customize content for each one.
Once you have your content, position it on sites and platforms that your personas consult when buying.
To Create Alignment Between Sales and Marketing
Marketing plays a key role in the early stages of the lead generation process. When marketing and sales are aligned, better leads are generated and nurtured. But this is not always the case. In fact, a survey conducted by Hubspot on 6200 sales and marketing professionals across the world shows that only 26% of them were aligned on sales SLAs. More so, the highest quality leads are either referrals or are sourced directly by sales.
However, marketers with clear alignment to SLAs are likely to nurture high quality leads.
Figure: sales and marketing alignment improves chances of generating quality leads
Teams can improve more alignment through practices that support creation of accurate personas such as:
- Better communication by holding frequent meetings
- Pursuing shared goals
- Closed-loop reporting that enables transparent data sharing with other departments and makes lead generation less top-of-the-funnel and more middle-of-the-funnel.
- A lead scoring system to help classify persona behavior, goals and demographics.
7 Components of a B2B Buyer Persona Description
A b2b buyer persona should capture the following information:
1. Current Job Title and Decision-Making Powers
Start by defining what your target does for a living. Knowing your potential lead’s job title is essential for your lead generation campaign efforts at every stage. A junior employee may be useful in the early stages of lead generation, but not so much in the later stages where purchase decisions need to be made. In the closing stage, you want to talk to a senior member who is capable of making decisions.
Professional social media platforms such as LinkedIn are a great place to learn about people’s roles in their company, as well as their skill level and the department they belong to.
2. The Persona’s Goals
What does your persona want, now or in the future, and how will your product help them to achieve these goals?
3. Their Typical Day
This can be anything that rounds up your persona’s day such as:
What time do they wake up? What’s their schedule like? What interests them? Do they browse the news or keep up with their professional organizations? What social media platforms do they frequent? What type of news interests them? Are they members of any professional organization? What content most interests them?
4. Attributes of Their Organization
Organizational attributes matter in B2b sales where profiling is influenced by a company’s size or the industry they play in. You should capture details such as:
- Company size
- Company or departmental goals
- Challenges in the industry
5. The Persona’s Pain Points
All purchase decisions are motivated by the need to solve a problem. Problems could be difficulty meeting sales goals, lack of systems, among others. To identify pain points, find out:
- What triggered their search for a solution and what were their frustration levels?
- Will your product solve their pain? That is:
- Will the customer increase efficiency or experience better quality of work?
- Will the product make their lives easier?
- Can you quantify these experiences?
6. Barriers to Doing Business
As mentioned above, talking to the wrong person in the organization can make the process of generating b2b leads unnecessarily long. As such, it is important to identify factors that may affect closing, such as:
7. Purchase Decision Criteria
What compels your persona to buy? Is it features? Benefits of using the product? Prestige of being associated with your brand? Reviews and testimonials? Because a friend recommended it? Because there is no better alternative in the market? They were too in need to do further research?
How to Develop Accurate Marketing Personas
Buyer personas should be accurately created for them to impact the sales cycle and save resources spent on marketing. To develop accurate personas:
- Use accurate data. The more you find out about your persona’s details, the more you will find information that will shorten the sales cycle.
- Make persona development ongoing. Keep updating your personas as their behaviors change.
- Don’t deviate from your persona. When creating marketing campaigns or developing products, your primary concern should be:
- “Does this speak to my persona?”
- Avoid confirmation bias. Don’t make yourself a point of reference when creating a persona. Even if you may use the said product, create with your customer in mind.
- Don’t re-use your personas. It’s always best to create from scratch, especially when the scope of a campaign is very granular.
Market research is a key factor in building accurate buyer personas. Social media is a great place to find out the answers to the questions above. You can also talk to:
Your Sales Team
Being at the forefront of the sales process, sales understand the people who buy from your company. They know their pain points, what motivates or excites them and what informs their purchase decision. Sales teams are also in touch with influencers.
People who have bought from you can give you first-hand information such as: the challenges that led to the purchase, what made them buy from you and not your competition, and how the purchase has changed their lives. You can collect this information through a survey.
These are people who haven’t bought from you, but are considering it. Find out their demographics, how they heard about you, their current needs and what led them to seek out your brand. The best way to reach prospects is through your marketing automation tools (via lead gen forms) or through a CRM system.
We recommend bringing in a consulting firm to conduct this kind of research for you. This will remove any element of bias and give you clean data. It will also free your time to focus on your marketing campaigns.
One of the reasons why the buyer persona doesn’t get enough appreciation is that marketers fail to push their importance in meetings and discussions, so that they are the focus of every marketing campaign decision.