To make sure you capture every little detail about who your customers are, what they do, what they stress over, what their pain points are, and how they make decisions, you embark on a study that includes any or all of these discovery techniques:
- Personal interviews
- Online research
- Focus groups
- Social media monitoring
- Data analysis
- Sales debriefings
- Internal brainstorming sessions where you make up stuff based on what you believe (you know it’s true)
Good job. Now you know who your customers are and what makes them tick. Based on that knowledge you’ve written a few dazzling buyer personas.
Haven't written any buyer personas yet? Use this buyer persona template.
Even though developing buyer personas has become a common practice in B2B marketing, they have not solved all B2B challenges. A Cintell benchmark study found that the top challenge facing marketing professionals who build buyer personas is that their organization as a whole does not value them.
What are you missing by not effectively leveraging personas?
A lot. Buyer personas should be incorporated in your marketing strategy to determine how you create, distribute, and repurpose content for demand generation campaigns. In fact, any materials that do not address a specific buyer persona are likely to be too generic to produce results.
The same Cintell study found that companies who exceeded lead and revenue goals were 2.4 times as likely to use personas for demand generation than those who missed lead and revenue goals. It's in your best interest to ensure the work you've put in towards buyer personas is effectively leveraged. What follows is a step-by-step guide showing how a B2B company can put buyer personas to work in their marketing strategy to ensure successful growth.
Step 1: Identify and rank buyer personas by significance.
When companies first start using personas in their marketing, some have a tendency to go persona-crazy. That is, they create more personas than they have the resources to attract and engage. You need to decide which buying groups and personas are most important.
Ask yourself — are some of your personas for target prospects that are not your ”ideal customer?” Rather than chasing “anything that breathes,” hone in on the personas that members of the buying groups of your perfect customer. This will help you whittle down the field.
When you have identified a core of important personas, rank them by purchasing significance to determine how much you will market to each persona.
Step 2: Develop content for your most significant personas.
For each persona you should have two sets of information.
- Career path
2. Pain points and decision making criteria
- Reasons for seeking a solution like yours
- Barriers to action
- Success they hope to achieve
- Resources they trust to make decisions
Create a simple table with personal information running down the page and pain points/decision making criteria running across. You will see how each persona is unique and how to approach each. This is critical to know if you are reaching decision makers and influencers in various capacities within buying groups.
- IT directors might respond best to data-centric content
- First adopters might prefer to receive content via a brand new content service
- Sales persons might prefer a visually impactful presentation they can download
Step 3: Create calls-to-action oriented towards alleviating each of your personas’ pain points.
For any buyer persona you target, the best way to grab their attention is by proving that you can alleviate their pain. And for each persona, the visual and textual representation that will appeal to them could be completely different.
Perhaps for one persona the CTA background image should be a graph, while for another it’s a race car, and for a third it’s a cottage by the sea.
Whether the CTA appears on your website, in social media, or an ad, make sure it is relevant to your persona.
Step 4: Rinse and repeat.
You’ve created content for the buyer personas you’ve ranked highest by purchasing significance. Now, repurpose that content for your remaining personas. This means going back to the table you created in Step 2 to determine what changes need to be made to the existing content to address the pain points and decision making criteria for these other personas.
What needs to change? How should your vocabulary change to speak to this persona? Does the infographic you made for one persona need to be a video for another? Did you come up with a brilliant tweet that would be perfect for another persona if only they didn’t hate Twitter?
Step 5: Personalize
With technology such as HubSpot’s Smart Content, you can now deliver the right content to the right persona via your website, landing pages, and email. Is it worth it? Consider this.
Hubspot looked at the data for more than 330,000 calls-to-action created using their tools over a 12 month period. What did they find? Calls-to-action targeted to the user performed 212% better than calls to action that were generic.
Web content personalization is a leading edge capability — and many providers are rolling out features geared towards personalizing digital assets for individuals. It has the potential to significantly ramp up your demand generation and make your buyer personas even more important than they already are.
This blog was originally published in 2014 and was recently updated with more relevant statistics and information.