How to Create B2B Personas for Effective Marketing?

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By Jillian Frager

Imagine that you’re making a sales pitch to a roomful of what you think will be college-aged students, but then you see a group senior citizens instead. You’ll undoubtedly feel uneasy knowing that you’ve tailored your entire presentation to the wrong demographic. And it’s just as likely you’ll be walking away without a single sale to show for your efforts.

Several B2B advertisers today don’t even think to check that they’re advertising to the wrong audience. Thankfully, creating a buyer persona can help B2B advertisers avoid barking up the wrong tree.

Read on for everything you need to know about how to create an effective B2B persona.

What Exactly is a B2B Persona?

Creating a B2B marketing persona is the process of thinking of the people who comprise your unique target audience as one individual. Then gaining a firm, data-driven understanding of what makes this “person” tick.

This process entails being able to answer important questions about the target individual, such as:

  • Demographics – What is the age, gender, and race of this person? Do they live in a city or suburb? House or apartment complex? What’s their annual income? Their educational background?
  • Firmographics – This is the term used for demographics as they apply to a business. In which industry does the individual work? What are the company’s daily operations? Which brands do they already use to facilitate this? How many other employees work there? Where is this company located? How does the company’s bottom line and other meaningful analytics compare to those of its rivals?
  • Individual’s Business Profile – Understanding the individual’s place both within the company, and the industry at large, plays a crucial role in helping you determine what content you send them. In addition to how much instruction should accompany it.

What are the individual’s specific skills? What is their job title and role at their current company? Are they an executive who calls the shots on business decisions? A lower-level employee who reports to upper management? Or perhaps an IT Department member tasked with making decisions about their company’s computer system and data storage plan? 

  • Day in the Life – How is success measured in the individual’s role at the company? What are their daily goals? What motivates them to achieve these goals? And what are their pain points? For instance,  what are the typical obstacles that interfere with them accomplishing these goals? Lastly, what past challenges have they encountered when using a product or service similar to what your company offers?

You should also consider the person’s habits while they’re at their place of work. When do they tend to check their email? What type of emails do they bother to read, and which ones are destined for their spam folder? Do they use social media? If so, on which platforms are they most active? Where on the Internet do they seek out content?

  • The Purchasing Process – Perhaps the most critical information you can establish about your buyer’s persona is how the purchasing process works at their company. Under what circumstances does the company make a purchase? Does your target individual have the final say over the purchase, or do they need to get approval from their superiors before pulling the trigger? What is their budget? What factors may present a barrier to the purchasing process?

Also, consider the person’s buying habits. Would they prefer to receive information about your services via email? Over the phone? Or are they type of businessperson who prefers shaking hands at a convention before sealing the deal over a classic wine-and-dine at a nearby steakhouse?

An Additional Note About the Purchasing Process

Keep in mind that, in recent years, the way businesses understand the purchasing process has changed dramatically. Back when cold calls ruled the day, sales were thought of as a do-or-die proposition. The prospective buyer on the other end of the phone either bought what you were selling or hung up the phone.

Today, however, popular belief dictates that buyers won’t make a purchasing decision until a business has made at least six points of contact with them. And some buyers don’t pull out the credit card until the fifteenth point of contact!  These statements show that the purchasing process is far from a single endeavor, and instead, a vast funnel marked by three major tiers:

  • Lead Generation – This is the top of the funnel in which you introduce yourself to potential buyers and make them aware of the services you offer.
  • Lead Nurturing – At this point, your prospective buyer is considering your services and researching how your competitors stack up. Your goal is to continue strengthening your relationship with the buyer, often through sending them helpful, pertinent content.
  • The Final Sale – This is the part where you attempt to reel in the prospective buyer by convincing them that your services outshine rival businesses.

This marketing funnel entails curating your sales pitch so that it’s relevant to not only the individual buyer but also their phase in the buying process.

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Why is it Important to Know the Answers to These Questions?

According to a 2018 report with in-depth insights on consumer trends, a whopping 84% of buyers are more likely to make a purchase when they feel as though the sales pitch is tailored to them personally. And, trying to cater a sales pitch to an individual means trying to get to know them. 

Here are the steps you should take to pinpoint your target audience and ensure that you avoid making potentially deal-breaking mistakes in your sales pitch:

Step One: Research

Work with your fellow sales team members to find detailed answers to each of the questions listed above.  The following tactics can aid this research phase:

  • Check Out LinkedIn – Look at several LinkedIn profiles for various companies who might benefit from your services, and take note of the common trends among people who work there. Pay attention to articles the company has shared with others in their community, and see where that path takes you. It just might guide you toward additional leads you weren’t expecting.
  • Look at Other Social Media Accounts –  LinkedIn is the supreme source for learning about people’s skills, education level, professional background, and all things related. However, Facebook and Instagram are becoming increasingly prevalent in the corporate world. See what you can glean from each company’s other social media accounts.
  • Analytics are Your Friend – Google Analytics offers invaluable SEO insight into the keywords people search for when they come across your site. Facebook and Twitter offer similar Analytics for their respective platforms. Try to study as many of these analytics as possible. Sometimes they’ll tell you what your buyers’ pain points are in the buyers’ own words.
  • Stick the Landing Page – Also known as a lead capture form, a landing page is an inbound marketing tool on company websites that asks visitors to fill out information in exchange for free content, usually a downloadable eBook. These forms can teach you a lot about both individual companies and their industries.
  • Follow up with Past Customers – Assessing your past B2B triumphs and mistakes can help mold your approach to sales in the future. Try to get in touch with past buyers—everyone from your most loyal returning buyer to the one who scorched you on Yelp—and gather as much feedback as you can. Feedback has the twofold effect of strengthening your relationships with current buyers and boosting your chances of attracting new ones.

Step Two: Consolidate Your Research

Now that you’ve researched your buyer, concretize your research by creating an attention-grabbing visual buyer persona. This visual persona should be filed digitally in a desktop folder that your fellow team members can access easily and forward as needed.

In order to bring the visual to life, it should include the following:

  • A photo of an actual person
  • A fake name like “Edna Executive” or “Carl Computer Whiz,” etc.
  • Bullet points indicating their bio, background, and current job title at the company
  • Longer blurbs depicting their company measures success in their current role, their daily motivation, and their pain points

Step Three: Integrate Buyer Persona into Future Marketing Efforts

Refer to your newly created buyer persona to dictate how you craft your future emails to prospective buyers. You can also use your new persona towards how you’ll use various marketing materials to nurture a relationship with them.

And remember that business trends evolve constantly, which means that buyer personas will change with them. Update your buyer persona to ensure it remains current and “with the times,” so to speak. 

Conclusion

In the arena of B2B sales, failing to know your audience is one of the quickest ways to slap the “out of business” sign in your window.

Not every pitch will result in a sale. But creating a business persona helps ensure that, at the very least, you’ll be pitching to the right audience.

 

Resources

1) “State of the Connected Customer – Second Edition” by Salesforce Research https://c1.sfdcstatic.com/content/dam/web/en_us/www/documents/e-books/state-of-the-connected-customer-report-second-edition2018.pdf

2) “Demographics” by Jim Chappelow

https://www.investopedia.com/terms/d/demographics.asp

3) “7 Popular Marketing Techniques for Small Businesses” by Andrew Beattie

https://www.investopedia.com/articles/financial-theory/11/small-business-marketing-techniques.asp