“The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits them and sells itself.” (Peter F. Drucker, ‘The Power of Really Knowing Your Target Market’)
Understanding your audience is the first step in a successful B2B marketing campaign. If you don’t know who you are directing your messaging to it is unlikely to grip anybody. Likewise, if you try to be all things to all people, you will find your message will mean nothing and reach no-one.
Whilst it is common for marketers to establish a target audience, oftentimes these demographics and numbers seem too impersonal to inspire any proper communication. As an exercise, creating buyer personas gives you a tangible person to present to.
In the following article, we are going to evaluate the benefits of adopting buyer personas in your strategic planning, and the way to create a thorough representation of your target audience.
What are Buyer Personas?
Buyer personas are fictional character portraits that are specifically made to represent different segments of your audience. Each fictional persona is personalised and fleshed out until they seem like a real person to you.
A buyer persona allows you to solidify in your mind what motivates your customers. It is much simpler to tailor targeted messages through buyer personas than just working off generalised observations of your target audience.
Creating a Buyer Persona
Creating buyer personas is not difficult to do, however, it can be hard to know where to start. Below we have broken down the process of creating buyer personas into easy to follow bite-size chunks.
Step 1: Research
Good buyer personas are founded on quality research gathered from information about your existing customer base. Don’t allow yourself to get too bogged down in the details; likewise, don’t start creating a persona without having a thorough set of data to work from.
Segment your target audience accordingly and decide who you are looking to target in your campaign. For example, you may find that your customer base is divided into two separate demographics. Gather what information you can on both of these two groups, as this will inform what you come up with in the next step.
Below are some tactics you can employ to gather the research you need.
Talking to your customers is one of the best ways to gather ideas for your buyer personas. Not only will you get invaluable insights from them, you will also have the opportunity to draw inspiration from them later in the second phase of developing a buyer persona.
Conduct a Survey
Surveys can be conducted via email or through online survey sites. This data will give you an insight into what it is that motivates your target audience.
Use Analytics and Social Media
Google Analytics and insights from your social media channels are very valuable resources in deciding your target audience and developing your buyer personas. LinkedIn’s Analytics will allow you to determine who your customers are with great accuracy.
Talk to your Sales and Support Teams
Your sales and support teams will know the most out of anybody in your organisation about your customer base. By taking time to talk with them, you likely find out things you never would have known from a survey or analytics.
Step 2: Imagine
Here comes the fun part; identifying your buyer persona’s traits! Get out all of your data and resources in front of you and start writing down ideas for the following questions.
What is their name? Do you have a picture in your mind?
The first step to personalising your buyer persona is to give them a name and face. One good way to come up with a name is to ask your sales manager for the first name that pops up in their head. Then do a Google image search to identify a person that can play the role of avatar.
Example: We are looking to sell insurance to small business owners. After asking our sales department manager, the first name they came up with was ‘Liz McGregor’. With a quick Google search we found a picture of what we imagined Liz might look like.
What is the their character background and history?
Now we get into the details of the character. Yet again, use the data you have collected to identify the following key points: age, gender, job, education, location, family situation and archetypal personality type.
Example: After consulting the data, we have decided that Liz McGregor is a 35 year old, female, small business owner running a restaurant in Prahran, Victoria. Liz has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Melbourne University, but was born in Aberdeen, Scotland. Liz McGregor is single and a passionate entrepreneurial business person.
What quote summarises their personality?
Coming up with a statement that summarises who this person is, is a great way to articulate the perspective of your audience. This statement can be anything, it doesn’t have to be a famous quote.
Example: “My business is my life. I’ve invested years managing other people’s businesses. I am determined to see my business succeed, and run it my way. I don’t like people who waste my time. I am a pragmatic person.”
Why are they interested in your businesses’ products or services?
There are different things that motivate the purchase of products and services. Some want to get a promotion, whilst others are looking for tools to streamline their business. In B2B marketing there are various key decision makers, each with different motivations that need to be accounted for.
Example: “I need a basic insurance plan that will cover my business at an affordable rate. I want a quick and easy solution.”
What are the biggest problems in their life?
Understanding what fears and day-to-day problems your fictional character has to contend with gives you deeper insight into their motivations. By identifying the issues that concern them, you will be able to better target your messaging to address those concerns.
Example: As a small business owner, Liz’s business is very stressful and although the business is stable at the moment, it has suffered recently. She spends many hours per week working overtime to make sure that the business is running smoothly.
What values do they align with?
What values does your character hold dear? Do they have any strong political or religious beliefs? What do they value most in their life?
Example: Liz is open-minded and values hard work and pragmatism. She values friendship and family most of all.
How do they go about making a buying decision for their business?
Different people go about purchasing products in different ways. Some like to read journals and others appreciate advice from close friends. Who influences your character’s buying decisions? What motivates them? Price? Quality? Also, do they adopt new ideas readily or are they more conservative in their choices?
Example: Liz McGregor does not like any risk, and believes in being well prepared. She researches all her purchases online and will phone up several businesses for quotes.
Buyer personas a useful way to develop the right strategies and messaging for your campaigns. These one-page documents can be distributed across your company and help everyone in your organisation adopt a clearer understanding of who they are targeting.
According to marketer and strategist Mark Schaefer, “3 to 4 Buyer Personas usually account for 90%+ of a company’s sales”. In our experience, this is fairly accurate.
If you enjoyed this article and would like to learn more about targeting, read this article on Targeting Your Marketing Messages To Your Audience.
If you are interested in Buyer Personas and looking for assistance employing it for your B2B business, please contact The Lead Agency using the form below. Our speciality is in generating leads and prospects for your business and building strong, resilient ties with them.
For more information on B2B Value Proposition read our article on What Makes An Effective Value Proposition: A Marketing Companies Melbourne Perspective