Buyer personas serve many purposes for your B2B technical company.
During the marketing planning phase, it’s important to know the different personalities that make up your target audience, what they care about, and what they need so you can communicate with them in the most relevant way possible.
As a technical marketer, you should keep your buyer personas in mind as your plan and implement your marketing strategy.
If you only generate a few leads a month, this is easy to do manually by looking up the company’s website, finding the person on LinkedIn, and making your best judgment about the optimal approach to follow up.
But as you attract a greater audience using content marketing, you can no longer do this manually. Since you’ll be generating many more leads, your time will need to be focused on creating new content and following up on your growing pipeline of sales-qualified leads.
You need an automated way to bucket leads by common care-abouts, so you can more effectively nurture them using marketing automation, or do what some call “mass one-to-one marketing.”
To do this, you need to create buyer personas.
What are Buyer Personas?
Buyer personas are fictional representations of your ideal customers based on real data pertaining to customer demographics, online behavior, and your educated speculation about their personal histories, motivations, and concerns.
With B2B buyer personas, you can put faces to your customer segments and can better customize your marketing efforts – from messaging to activity selection – and make a greater impact with your prospects.
For example, you may define one of your buyer personas, Oil/Gas Engineer Ethan, who is a senior-level engineer whose main concern is system reliability. His goal is getting the right solution the first time.
Here's an example buyer persona.
- Who are they?
- Demographics such as gender, age, and education
- What is their job?
- Data such as title, company size, industry, and general job responsibilities
- What is a day in their life like?
- Describe what an average day is like for them, who they are dealing with, and what decisions they are making
- What are their primary pain points?
- Describe the primary challenges they are trying to overcome that relate to your products and services
- What do they value most and what are their goals?
- Explain what they value most in making a purchase decision (price, support, etc.), what they are trying to accomplish in each application
- Where do they go for information?
- Identify the primary sources they use to gather information in their research and purchase decision process
- What’s important to them in selecting a vendor?
- List what is most important, such as being a technology leader, having proven experience, being a domain expert, etc.
- What are their most common objections?
- List the reasons you hear most often for why your solutions won’t meet their needs
When getting started, it’s best to limit the number of personas to three. This sets your foundation to build upon to further refine your personas and generate new ones as needed.
Dig Deeper with B2B Buyer Persona Portraits
Having a profile of your buyers is a great first step, but ideally you take the time to go deeper and develop a Buyer Persona Portrait.
Think of it as having a correlation between the amount of information you have about your technical buyer and the effectiveness of your marketing to them – the greater the information, the greater the effectiveness. It makes sense, but it’s not easy and it takes time.
At TREW, we approach customer interviews as a qualitative research project.
By analyzing the results of customer interviews, you can better define your buyer personas including job roles represented on customer buying teams, decision-makers vs. influencers, buying triggers that lead a buyer or buying team to begin searching for a solution, and the outcomes or benefits they expect to realize from their purchase.
Using informed data, outside research, and your collective experience when creating your personas, then gaining buy-in from company leadership, can result in significant efficiency gains and employee confidence. When your buyer personas start to become part of your regular language and references to "Engineer Ethan" lead to heads nodding in agreement and understanding, you will experience the true power of B2B buyer personas.
For in-depth resources about all-things buyer persona, check out the valuable resources Adele Revella and her team offers through the Buyer Persona Institute, including research studies, tools, and her book.
Here are a few recommended steps to efficiently create your buyer persona portrait:
- Start by defining your higher-level buyer persona profiles
- Choose one to create a deeper dive persona portrait
- Identify 10-15 customers you believe match the persona who would be willing to be interviewed for ideally up to an hour
- Create an interview script with questions tied to each of the portrait focus areas
- Allow interviews to take their own direction as needed to gain the most value from each one while keeping in mind the key areas you’re defining
- Define themes for each area and consider creating a “top 5-10” findings
- Complete 75% of your interviews and then share the draft findings and themes with a few on your internal branding or leadership committee to get reactions. Compile questions to inform how to best use the final 25% of your interviews.
- Draft your persona portrait and find an opportunity to present the findings more formally to your sales, marketing and leadership teams
- As part of your presentation, use this captive audience to begin a brainstorm around 1-2 topic clusters this persona
- Create sales cards for your sales team and placards to post around meeting and department spaces to serve as an active reminder of your technical buyer
Map and Develop Content for Each B2B Buyer Persona
Once you have your B2B buyer personas defined, you can be much smarter about your monthly content calendar planning and lead nurturing efforts.
A new lead generated from a white paper or other premium content isn’t necessarily ready to speak with sales or make a purchase from you. You need to nurture that person over time, building trust and credibility between your company and the lead as he or she gains knowledge of your products and services.
Brainstorm content that will lead your persona through each stage of the buyer's journey.
Evaluate Your B2B Buyer Personas Once a Year
Just as your company grows and offers new products and services, your B2B buyer personas should grow and develop.
Once a year, be sure to review your personas. As you spend more time with clients, you'll notice new things about them and what types of content help influence their buyer's journey.
Discuss this with your sales and marketing teams and update personas to reflect new discoveries.
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For more information on how buyer personas play a role in your brand, download our guide Smart Brand Positioning and Messaging for Engineers to dive deeper into the brand positioning and messaging process.
TREW is a marketing agency dedicated to reaching engineering and technical audiences through a range of marketing initiatives. Contact us today to learn more about the services we offer.
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Morgan believes that the process of brand positioning and messaging powers companies by aligning corporate leadership, building a story that fuels staff and engages customers, and creating a foundation for consistent content – and she’s seen these results come true for TREW clients time and again over the last decade. She holds degrees in Public Relations and Spanish, with a minor in Business from The University of Texas at Austin. Morgan, her husband, and three kids recently moved from Austin to downtown DC, where they enjoy walking the city, visiting the local museums, and playing a guess-who-is-in-that-motorcade game.
TREW Marketing is a strategy-first content marketing agency serving B2B companies that target highly technical buyers. With deep experience in the design, embedded, measurement and automation, and software industries, TREW Marketing provides branding, marketing strategy, content development, and digital marketing services to help customers efficiently and effectively achieve business goals.