Just to make sure we’re all on the same page, a buyer personas is a research-based profile of your ideal customer designed to give you insights into the factors that shape their purchasing decisions.
Over the past year, we’ve seen a proliferation of “deep” personas that practically tell the life story of characters like “CFO Jane” or “VP Steve”. But the primary purpose of this so-called depth is to justify a gigantic price tag because it’s really of no use in designing an effective B2B strategy.
In fact, if anyone tells you your personas should include details like number of pets, favorite food, or the car they drive, you can go ahead and disregard everything else they have to say on the topic because they’ve already gone off the rails.
A solid B2B buyer persona will give you actionable insights on your target’s decision-making process and context. This includes:
- The factors that cause them to start looking for a solution like yours
- What they do and do not understand about your area of expertise and what they need to know
- What they will find when they begin their search and how you can provide a better experience
- The resources (media, publications, influencers, discussion groups, etc.) they trust on the topic
- Who else is part of the process and what motivates their decisions
- Key decision points along the path to purchase and how you can deepen engagement at each step
With a persona like this in hand, it’s time to take a fresh look at your current sales and marketing plan and see how well it delivers what your prospects need when they need it.
Time and time again we’ve found that a solid buyer persona sparks a cascade of clear, practical tactics and a major overhaul of the old strategy.
The revised strategies generally share four common themes:
1. Messaging: Once you have a clear vision of exactly who you’re talking to and what makes them tick, it becomes readily apparent what to say, how to say it, and what materials (blog posts, infographics, white papers, etc.) you need to most effectively deliver it.
When looking at existing content, including website and sales collateral, through the lens of the persona, it usually ends up getting trimmed down substantially to eliminate distracting messages, and a bit of revised content is added to keep attention focused on what actually drives buyer decisions.
2 Marketing Channels: It’s easy to get your message out into the world, but it’s another thing to land the right message right where your prospects happen to be looking for it. A good buyer persona will map this out though and show you where your messages will be most effective at moving your audience from one stage to the next.
As you adjust your strategy to your buyer persona, you’ll see pretty clearly why some channels such as Twitter, Facebook, your website, or even cold calls, were underperforming and how to fix them. You’ll also see why other channels were doing well and how to make them even better.
3. Measurement and optimization:
“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is I don’t know which half.“
Those words have been an enduring marketing truism since John Wanamaker summed it up back in 1905. In the digital era though, there’s really no excuse for not knowing what’s working and what’s not.
A core element of an effective persona is the buyer’s path to purchase. Of course, this isn’t the precise path they all will take but it is a framework that can be measured and modified to align with the customers you want the most.
As you start coordinating your messaging and channels, you’ll notice numerous points where you can measure how each component is performing and identify ways to make them work more effectively together.
Even the best buyer persona should not be seen as gospel. Rather, it should be treated as a set of testable hypotheses that improve with experience and adapt to the ever changing customer base and business landscape.
And, of course, you can and should develop a new buyer persona for each of your major buyer types. For each one, it is critical to tailor the strategy and messaging to the targets, but you’ll find that once you have one persona locked down, it’s rather easy to customize it to connect with new audiences.