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Alistair Norman

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Alistair Norman

Feb 3, 2017

How to develop buyer personas for B2B marketing


Creating buyer personas is a powerful way to build the audience understanding every B2B marketing department needs for success, and an essential part of your campaign research.

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When researching promotional marketing campaigns, a marketer’s goal should be to learn everything they can about their customers. Prospects expect personalisation in this new era of marketing. They want to be spoken to directly, with content that addresses their precise business pains. By understanding the individuals you’re targeting and creating incisive buyer personas, you are able to really hone into their wants and needs - and an effective way of achieving this is to put a face to all the information you gather. Despite this, research shows that only 29% of marketers are confident that most people in their organisation can identify their buyer personas.

Content is king - but only if it is relevant to each and every prospect. Otherwise, it's just noise.

Creating a set of buyer persona profiles gives you something to hang promotional campaigns off without losing sight of what the end goal is. Most businesses find their audience is best represented by at least three, and no more than five, persona profiles – enough to cover the majority of your customers, yet small enough to add value by being specific.

Fed up of marketing campaigns that don’t deliver? Read The CMO's definitive  guide to high-performing promotional campaigns >>In order to define your personas, it is essential to start from data, not assumptions.

  • Analyse your database and pull together a list of your existing, lapsed and potential customers.

  • Curate into different types of customer, pulling together pertinent and common themes about each so you can create a basic buyer persona profile.

  • Don’t ignore lapsed or unengaged customers - identifying personas who aren’t currently engaged with your products or services could reveal where your messaging is going wrong. It will suggest ways in which you can re-engage with them.

Once you have a list of buyer personas in place, it is time to flesh them out into full, rich profiles. The most effective way to do this is to listen - listen to your customers, listen to your sales team, listen to your customer services team, and listen to the conversations your personas are interacting with online. Run telephone interviews, feedback surveys and conversation audits to gather quotes and information, and use these insights to overlay your data and bring your profiles to life.

Entries such as age, gender and backstory may seem unnecessary, but they are ideal for making your persona “real” in the minds of you and your marketing team, someone that can be identified with more easily.

5 Essential Components of a Persona Profile

To maximise the power of your buyer personas, think about the following 5 components:

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1. Do I understand my target personas’ needs and interests?

By knowing your customers’ concerns, you can ensure your promotional campaigns cater to their interests, wants and needs. Identify the topics most important to your audience and create content to meet that demand. This can be achieved through a variety of primary and secondary research methods, including conducting interviews or desk-based research.

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2. Where do my personas spend their time online?

Once you know the background of each of your buyer personas, you can better understand where they spend time online – where they get their information, for example, and which social networks they use – to better target, and promote, your promotional campaign. Conducting social listening exercises and conversation audits will help you to understand the topics of greatest interest to your personas - informing your overall content strategy. It will also be instrumental in identifying terminology and specific phrases to develop your keyword strategy.

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3. Should I prioritise my personas?

Persona profiles are about shared traits and common goals that unite different sections of your audience, some of which will be of greater potential value to your business than others. Use the information you collect to make a personal connection with the highest value buyer personas through email marketing – personalising messages will enable you to more effectively build leads, and you will get better customers from stronger leads.

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4. How should the rest of the business use personas?

Persona profiles enable you to create a consistent and specific understanding of each different target group within your audience that is quickly and easily understood by everyone across your business.  Targeting your approach to each buyer persona will allow your sales team to tailor their pitch before making first contact. Identifying which persona will lead to your most ideal customer will enable you to prioritise time and effort spent on each, reducing waste and improving the efficiency of your marketing campaigns.

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5. When should I add or drop a persona profile?

Continue tracking your audience closely over time to add new buyer personas when needed – for example, when you see a new common pattern in your lead and customer data. This might be a trend in business size or type, job level or role, or specific customer need, or it could be when your own business introduces a new service or product. Expect to tweak and change your personas as they evolve - and to cull them if they become less relevant as market conditions change.

 

Well-defined buyer personas can provide significant structure and insight when developing B2B promotional campaigns. They can help you focus resources, guide the scope and reach of your activity, and inform tailored content and communications most likely to persuade your target audience to buy. 

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Fed up of marketing campaigns that don’t deliver?

Persona research is the first stage in our foolproof 5-step methodology for promotional campaigns that deliver. Find out how to build & optimise promotional marketing campaigns that drive performance in our definitive handbook. Read The CMO's definitive guide to high-performing promotional campaigns

 

Topics: CMO's definitive guide b2b promotional campaigns buyer personas

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