Despite the continued rise in content marketing, it’s surprising to discover how many B2B marketers don’t use buyer personas to guide their activities. This is a missed opportunity!
Understanding your prospective customers’ wants, needs and goals is critical to creating an effective content marketing strategy. This knowledge should form the strong foundation on which all other activities and materials are built. Developing a buyer persona is the best way to truly understand your target audience at a deep level.
What are buyer personas?
Think of a persona as a fictional character that represents your target customer and gives you a detailed look at who they are, what they want, and what drives them.
For many businesses, of course, a single buyer persona doesn’t work. Different segments often require different personas—though you don’t want to get carried away, either. For most organizations, creating two or three detailed buyer personas is sufficient to help guide the marketing process.
Key areas of a buyer persona
So how do you go about creating an effective buyer persona? While there are a lot of potential areas to consider, here are five key elements of a strong buyer persona:
- Demographics: The best way to tailor a marketing message is to know who you’re talking to. Ask yourself, “Who is my buyer?” For buyer demographics, you need to consider two core areas: personal demographics, such as title or role and age range, as well as company demographics, such as business size, industry, and geography.
- Psychographics: While buyer demographic information describes who a buyer is within their company context, psychographic information describes why they buy. This includes critical information such as values, spending habits or patterns, aspirations, and more as relevant to your specific product or service. For more on psychographic information, please see my recent post [link].
- Goals: What challenges are your buyers looking to address—and how can your product or service address that need? This is an area that many B2B marketers understand well, at least at a high level. But, in creating your persona, dig down deeper. What are your potential buyers hoping to achieve? What are the effects of achieving this goal for the company and for them personally? What are the consequences of failing to achieve these goals?
- Influences: What forces are acting on your buyer to affect their buying decisions? This can include external individuals, such as key influencers with high-profile platforms, or internal individuals, such as bosses, team members or subordinates. Remember, rarely in a B2B setting is one person solely responsible for buying decisions—so who are the other individuals influencing the buyer’s decision, and where will they impact the buying process?
- Objections: Keeping all the above information in mind, try to see your company and product/service from the buyer’s point of view. What objections or reasons to hesitate will your buyer find when considering your product or service? Are you a new company competing with established competitors? Does your new product seem risky when compared to “tried and true” alternatives? By understanding these potential issues and their root causes, you as a marketer can address these objections and develop marketing messages that resonate.
Using buyer personas in your marketing process
The process of creating personas is in itself valuable. To create a detailed and believable persona means looking deeper for answers, seeking patterns in past customer behaviour, and viewing your products or services with a more critical eye.
However, the long-term value comes from the personas themselves. Buyer personas create a structure for your marketing strategy and influence your messaging. Personas also operate as a “true North” document for your team. By revisiting the written persona while creating communications materials, team members can ensure that they stay aligned with the strategy and hone their messages for the right audience.
The result is better marketing materials that are aligned with your target customer’s true goals.