Soccer moms. NASCAR dads. Security seniors. Pet lovers. Weekend jocks. Computer nerds. People use personas to identify themselves or groups where they maintain connections. For instance, I’m a football mom, a Jane Six-Pack (more diet ginger ale than pints of ale) and a latte-sipping bookstore lounger. Although these personas don’t describe all my activities, they do touch on some of my affinities and proclivities, and thus some motivations that trigger my buying impulses.
According to David Meerman Scott, author of The New Rules of Marketing & PR, “Successful online marketing and PR efforts work because they start by identifying one or more buyer personas to target…” As B2B marketers, it’s critical that we understand our business buyers’ mindsets and motivations to ensure our messages reach their inner needs and desires.
- What influences the B2B buyer?
- How important is reputation?
- Is he in a job or a career?
- What are her Web habits?
- How influential is the buyer regarding the buying decision?
- Where in the sales cycle is the buyer?
- Any pet peeves or pain triggers?
- What trade pubs does he read?
- Is she affiliated with any professional associations?
- Are the activities of the competition important?
When planning a B2B marketing effort, knowing your buyers’ personas can move you closer to a more precise message. Ardath Albee, author of eMarketing Strategies for the Complex Sale, suggests “…B2B personas must recognize that the prospect’s professional standing and priorities will hold additional sway over what catches his attention when it comes time to solve a business issue.” This awareness will help illuminate the motivations, the worries and the tendencies that are important to your customers.
Here are some tips for gathering the background to discover your buyers’ personas:
- Break down your buyers into distinct groups. In the B2B arena, it can be industry segments or job titles, for example.
- Select a few categories to further define your group, i.e., age, company type, key concerns, pain triggers, annoyances, professional activities and other profiling data.
- Interview the customers who fit the personas you have identified — a minimum of five groups, more if possible.
- Genuinely pay attention to the words they use, the emphases placed and the priorities ordered.
- Catalog everything you know and have learned about each groups attributes.
- Then step back and look at the patterns.
- Segment each group with a name. Rather than keeping your future customer as a nameless, faceless “prospect,” give the customer life with a name.
Use this information to get to know your customers’ personally and understand their motivations. You can now tailor your marketing messages to highlight how your product’s solution will meet their needs. The goal of the marketing persona exercise is to help you understand your customers better and focus your marketing endeavors cost-effectively, reducing wasted effort on both sides. We have found the exercise to be profoundly effective at our B2B marketing agency, MLT Creative.
Imagine you’ve been tasked with writing web copy for your B2B prospective customer base announcing the launch of the time-traveling flux capacitor. This time, consider the persona profile of Dr. Emmitt Brown, the brilliant scientist. As a technical expert, Dr. Brown wouldn’t be interested in fluffy product benefit brochures, but he would read a straightforward, practical and scientifically rich product analysis. By appealing to Dr. Brown’s motivations, your website and marketing efforts will produce better results.
Have you gotten personal with your B2B buyer personas? Can you categorize your buyer personas?
For understanding why you need buyer personas, how to create them and how to use them, check out this post: Why You Need B2B Buyer Personas and How To Create Them.