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When B2B companies envision their target audience, it's natural for them to think first of the companies and industries they want to do business with. That’s a great way to start the process of defining your audience, but to add more depth to your understanding of your customers, you need to build audience personas.
What is a B2B Buyer Persona?
A persona is a fictitious character who represents an archetype of who you understand your customers to be. You assign attributes to the persona and create an identity that can inform decisions in your business strategy. If you are devising personas for your B2B company, there are some key differences to how you would approach this compared with B2C organisations. This is because the ‘buying’ process for B2B is very different from how B2C buying decisions are made.
One important similarity between B2B and B2C personas is that they must be based on people. This is particularly helpful for B2B companies, as personas help you drill down past the organisation level of your business customers to the individuals who make up that business. Who is the ideal decision-maker you are hoping will get to know your product or service? Who else is involved in the buying process in your target company? This should be Step One in your persona building exercise.
Buyer personas for B2B companies may have the same basic format as those for B2C, but the addition of some invaluable details can really narrow your targeting.
Follow these tips to create your B2B personas:
1. Build More Than 1 Persona
B2B purchase decisions rarely are made by a single person inside a business. You might need to reach multiple people in the company and address a variety of concerns and challenges during your pitch and communication process.
Decisions will often be made by a group of professionals, each of whom will think about your offering from the perspective of their own role in the organization, and in light of their skills and expertise. It's important to build a persona for each type of ‘customer’ represented in the buying process, in order to deliver tailored and targeted content throughout their different phases of decision-making.
2. Understanding the Person Behind the Persona
Make a list of traits that could impact the decision-making process of someone in your industry. At this stage, only include those traits which may affect the buying process. Some examples might be:
- What is their role in the company?
- How many years of experience do they have?
- What is their educational background?
- What type of content do they consume?
- When do they consume content?
- What social platforms do they use?
3. Demographics for Your Buyer Persona
Once you’ve considered the details of an individual’s work life (role, years of experience, etc) that would impact the decision-making process, it’s time to consider demographics. This can help you develop a more tangible sense of your customer. For B2C companies, demographics are a key aspect of devising marketing strategies. Factors like ‘age’ and ‘gender’ of customers would be considered extremely relevant and would be analysed in depth.
Perhaps demographic factors like age and gender are less impactful on the decision-making process for B2B products and services. However, when building a picture of a persona it can be helpful to flesh out their identity by assigning certain demographic features. You might consider:
- Their age
- Their gender
- Their family status
- Where they live
- What they do in their free time
Once you’ve assigned demographic traits to your personas, you can give the personas names and faces to truly personify them! Ultimately, your personas are there to help you visualise your ideal clients so that you can tailor your marketing activity accordingly. Giving them names and faces makes it a lot easier to think of them as if they are real people.
4. What Motivates Your Buyer Persona?
B2B purchases are not driven by impulse, and price is not always the deciding factor. Your target, the ideal client, is usually looking for a solution to ease a business pain. They may even be additionally motivated by the desire to gain visibility and recognition within their organisation.
Business pains come in all different shapes and sizes. Getting to know what type of problem your company is able to solve for your clients is crucial. If you understand what motivates your personas to choose your solution, you will be able to tailor content and campaigns to help them down the buying funnel.
5. Challenges for Your Buyer Persona
So your product or service solves a business pain for your client, hopefully making things better and easier for them. They’ll likely be delighted with the improvement, but it’s good to acknowledge that sometimes introducing new solutions impacts on existing processes within the company.
This can present a challenge for your buyer during the purchase decision. Your decision-maker may encounter various internal queries and objections during the process. They can be up against internal bureaucracy, industry regulations or even out-of-date misconceptions or long-used practices that your product challenges. Anticipating these difficulties will help you to address them throughout your communications and marketing strategy.
Using Your Buyer Personas
Building buyer personas is a great way to build a strong relationship with your target audience. Personas enable you to produce catered content and offer tailored educational pieces that assist your ideal clients through the decision-making process. They can even inform your future business strategy or new products or services that may serve your target audience.
When you have created a list of named personas, you can add these details in a column to your content calendar. This ensures that when you’re creating a particular piece of content, you are keeping the relevant persona in mind at all times.
If you need help designing buyer personas for your business, contact our strategy team to see how we can help.