Let’s explore what level of persona development can help you accomplish your demand generation goals.
Developing B2B buyer personas is an essential first step to successful B2B marketing. However, there are many methods for collecting this mission-critical information.
As marketers, our ultimate goal is to engage prospects and customers with relevant dialogue to develop and maintain long-term profitable relationships.
To engage B2B buyers in a relevant manner, we have to know:
Who they are
This is the most basic level, identifying targets by role and general demographics. It’s not so difficult to collect data on who the decision makers, influencers, and amplifiers (advocates for a solution) are within any given industry, or the size of their company. The difficulty is that B2B marketers often stop here to—let’s just admit it—guess what motivates them to buy.
What they care about
This is the heart of persona development and its value. It means probing beyond the title to figure out what makes them tick: their daily and long-term concerns , their level of technical experience and understanding, their measure of success, their professional aspirations, their work habits, and even their social status.
This vivid picture of each type of buyer saves us from the common pitfall of basing messages on our own personal preferences—often euphemized as our gut feeling.
How to talk with them, not at them
Initiating and maintaining a relevant dialogue means putting the target’s information needs first. Not only must we understand what they need to know, we must uncover their preferred ways to find and consume content. Do they research your type of solution online? Via smartphone? Are they more receptive to webinars, demos, or white papers?
Part of this knowledge can be revealed through persona research and development, but we must also be careful to align these findings with each stage of the buyer cycle.
Ideally, we’d always have the time and budget to commission formal persona research, complete with focus groups and well-targeted online surveys. But you can also collect information to inform personas by:
- Reading the blogs and other media your audience reads
- Joining the LinkedIn groups they are active in
- Talking to your salespeople—they are the closest point of contact with your audience, after all
Then boil the insights you gather down to a two-paragraph story that highlights who they are, what they care about, and how they prefer to engage.
Give them names! Add pictures that give you an idea of their environment and what they look like. Make posters of the personas with their info and stick them on the wall as a vivid reminder to put their concerns first in all your demand generation programs.
How have you used personas (or wished you could)? Please comment and share your experiences—I may be able to help.