Often with our noses to the grindstone, one of the concerns we have as marketers is forgetting the reason we get up in the morning. Namely, our customers (prospects or leads).
That’s why the Buyer Personas stage is essential: we step into the shoes of our customers: what are they looking for, what do they want and how can we help them?
Here is a complete guide that can be applied any B2B marketer who wants to define and, above all, use Buyer Personas!
In this article we’ll tackle:
- The definition of a buyer persona
- Why define your buyer personas?
- How do you create a persona with B2B?
- How do you use personas in a marketing strategy?
01. What is a buyer persona?
A) Definition of a buyer persona
A buyer persona refers to the ideal target customer. It is a detailed, fictitious portrait of marketing targets: who they are, their tastes, habits, needs, problems etc. This helps you better target your communication and offering.
To achieve this, you need to consider current clients (yours and those of your competitors), understand how they work, know their online habits in order to understand what type of content is likely to appeal to them, the questions they ask, their motivations, their objectives and their influences. And above all, the real pain points to which you’ll be able to respond.
Buyer personas are not real people, target markets or positions in the company and do not depend on your products and services.
A marketing buyer persona mainly concerns the intentions of your prospects, their motivations, the questions that they want to answer and their behaviour.
It’s a kind of representative sample of a specific target, in relation to a product.
C) B2B or B2C: what is the difference when it comes to personas?
In both B2B and B2C, buyer personas are detailed profiles of each type of buyer of your solution.
However, there are notable differences between the B2B and B2C buying processes which will undoubtedly influence the way in which you construct your personas.
In B2C, purchases are most often based on an individual decision. They are more emotional, less logical and can be impulsive.
In B2B, the decision to buy is generally collective. Several stakeholders weigh up the advantages and disadvantages of the solutions to their problem. In principle, there’s no impulsive purchase. Decisions are based more on reason and less on emotion. Consequently, B2B buyers are more likely to rely on relevant content to help them make their decision. Purchasing cycles often being longer, it is necessary to build a relationship of trust upstream.
What are the consequences for buyer personas?
In B2B, the decision is made collectively. It is taken by a group of individuals within an organisation. You’ll, therefore, need to construct your personas on two levels: company and individuals within this company.
You will then have distinct personas for each type of business and for each sector. But you will also have types according to employee roles within the company. Indeed, your first contact (the influencer) will not necessarily be the decision-maker. Additionally, you will undoubtedly need to work on several personas in order to implement actions that reach the final purchaser.
02. Why define buyer personas?
This is a key part of a successful inbound marketing strategy. The real goal of persona marketing is to make contact with your ideal customers, where they are connected. In other words, to add value using content at the different points of contact.
If we know what marketing personas want to achieve, we will then know how to help them achieve their goals by providing the right products and services, at the right time.
Personas enable you to:
- Define your different client profiles;
- Know which type of content to produce to attract them;
- Know at which moment to publish your content;
- Know which sensitive areas to tackle;
- Define the right keywords (SEO).
- Have a clear idea of the problems that your prospects want to solve, giving you a degree of certainty concerning which subjects to tackle in your content.
- Know their sources of information and the influencers that they follow, allowing you to develop a content distribution plan suited to their behaviour.
All of your marketing team’s actions must be carried out for one of your personas. If you can’t associate the subject of your next blog article with one of your personas, you’ll need to revise it.
Not developing buyer personas risks creating a content marketing plan that won’t have any return on investment: it will be too far from the needs of your prospects and your value proposition, maybe generating traffic, but very few prospect conversions.
03. How do you create your personas?
In order to help you create your personas, we’ve created an example of a questionnaire to help construct your buyer personas including:
- A questionnaire with questions to ask your target market, which you can easily supplement with your own questions.
- Here’s an example of a persona to inspire you.
- A persona template that you can duplicate as required.
First step: identify which questions to ask (yourself)
If you ask general questions, you’ll get general answers. If you want specific answers, ask specific questions.
Each time, you need to ask yourself if the answer to the question will really help you better understand your audience and allow you to better respond to their problems.
- Male or female?
- Career path
- Business sector
- Type of company (Start-up, micro-business, SME, listed company etc.)
- Number of decision-making levels
Role within the business:
- The person’s seniority (senior, junior)
- Typical day
- Degree of expertise required to carry out their role
- Decision-making level
- What tools do they already use?
- What strategies are relevant to them?
- What are their main objectives?
- What are their obstacles (ecosystem, internal, financial, R&D etc.)
Sources of information:
- How are they informed?
- What websites/blogs do they read?
- How frequently?
- How present are they on social media?
It is also helpful to list what does not correspond to them. This will be your negative persona:
- They may be too expensive to acquire as a customer
- They will never buy your product or service
- They are too advanced for your product or service
- They are students and are interested in your product or service
Second step: determine the research channels
Even if you can often respond to the questions yourself, creating personas requires qualitative investigation to avoid making often risky assumptions. In this phase of creating the persona, you will need to multiply your research channels.
Listen attentively by going to where your customers and prospects are. For example, take inspiration from their LinkedIn accounts:
- What type of people belong to their network?
- What groups do they belong to?
- Are they active? (publication of news or social media articles)
Through researching keywords on social networks, take a glance at comments on your sector’s blogs, and don’t be afraid to ask questions on social media, in dedicated LinkedIn or Facebook groups, for example.
Next, ask each of your employees to express their view of customers. It is particularly relevant for those in sales who are in direct relationship with your customers. Feedback from sales staff on the objections they encounter will be a rich source of information when constructing your buying persona profile.
As a marketer, you can also listen-in on sales calls to better understand your target market’s pain points.
Finally, pad-out your personas by interviewing real customers and prospects and/or conduct client surveys.
You can also use intelligent statistics from your various web-marketing tools (Analytics, Twitter, LinkedIn, Buzzsumo, Facebook, Plezi etc.) to refine your understanding of different profiles.
Third step: Compile the responses and research
Having data is great. Having organised data and bringing it to life is better. To set out your data clearly and precisely (but in a way that can evolve over time) you now need to compile this precious information in a concise way in order to bring out the very best analysis.
04. How do you use personas?
You have now created a concise table for each of your personas. How are you going to use these in practice?
Buyer personas set a course that you must stick to religiously for all inbound marketing actions that you put in place.
When constructing personas, you’ll detect their pain points. It is through your online content that you will respond to these problems.
In terms of creating content, your marketing personas will help you address your prospects/customers’ pain points. By using personas, you’ll avoid making the mistake of only talking about yourself, your products and your services, and sinking into sterile self-promotion.
Once you have revealed your personas’ problems, complement this with SEO analysis to check the volumes on different keywords, and then prioritise them.
Next, personas are also essential to constructing your conversion mechanism. Without a clear understanding of your personas’ buyer’s journey, it is impossible to create content sequences that allow you to progress them through your conversion funnel and to build an effective marketing strategy.
Above all, don’t forget that personas are like a marketing plan: they are living and actionable so you can use them in marketing campaigns.
Now that you’ve defined your personas, what do you do?
- Starting out on your marketing automation benchmark
- Switch to inbound marketing in just six weeks
- Finding content ideas with SEO