One of the first steps of selling anything is identifying who would pay to use your product or service. While you may have heard of buyer personas as a tool direct-to-consumer businesses use to inform advertising and product development, marketing personas are just as important in B2B marketing and sales.
Crafting B2B marketing personas helps maximize your marketing campaign reach and ensures your content reaches the right audiences and decision-makers. In addition, they can help you better understand the people engaging with your content and allow you to optimize conversion rates towards any desired action.
Here, we’ll discuss why B2B marketing personas are so important for marketing teams and explain how to craft them effectively for your business.
What is a B2B marketing persona?
First, let’s clarify this term. A marketing persona is a customer description based on important information you know about your actual customers, like demographics, behavior, lifestyle, motivations, and challenges. A B2B marketing persona represents the decision-makers who have access to the corporate pocketbook rather than an individual shopper.
Each B2B marketing persona you make represents a segment of your target market. Using customer data and market research, you can identify important aspects about the people most likely to buy your product and cater your marketing materials to encourage them to take action like purchasing a subscription, scheduling a call, or signing up for a newsletter.
Why should you create B2B marketing personas?
In a B2C context, marketing is often a quantity over quality game. However, B2B businesses operate with a much more defined audience: Business decision-makers who could use your product. Quite simply, there are far fewer businesses than individual consumers, so it’s crucial to hone your marketing efforts to be as tailored to your target customers as possible. Otherwise, you’re wasting valuable time and resources.
Studies show that 72% of business decision-makers expect personalized engagement tailored to their needs. Creating B2B marketing personas allow you to segment your audiences to make sure you’re reaching specific people with the right message, whether they’re exploring innovation or actively looking to buy. That way, you can shorten sales cycles and amplify your lead generation.
Besides helping you better market to your target customers, B2B marketing personas also help you identify personas you shouldn’t be marketing to while helping your entire organization — from sales to customer service — to better understand and support customers. They can even inform future product development.
How to create B2B marketing personas
The process for creating B2B marketing personas will vary based on how much data and insight into your customers you have. But we’ll break down the process to give you an idea of what you can do with the resources you have available.
1. Pick buyer attributes
First, identify what is most important about your prospective buyers. What information is most relevant for you to best cater marketing materials to a B2B marketing persona? Some things you may want to know include:
- Company: What is their company’s industry? Who are their end customers? Where is their company based?
- Role: Is a buyer an executive or mid-level management? What is their title?
- Status: How long has an individual been working in their position or industry? What is their buying power? What hurdles must they cross to be able to make a purchase?
- Objectives/Goals: What drives their buying decisions? What business goals do they have — both individually and for the company?
- Brands: What brands or products does their company already use? What do they like or dislike about these products?
- Frustrations/Challenges: What problem do they need to solve? What challenges stand in the way of meeting business goals?
You may not be able to answer all of these questions depending on the data you have available.
2. Research your buyers
Speaking of data, it should inform the most important step of setting up your B2B marketing personas: Research. After picking out the attributes that matter most to your personas, you’ll know which industries and companies your product or service should appeal to most.
Then, you’re ready to start digging and narrowing down personas. When doing your research, you should use both quantitative and qualitative data. So, where can you find valuable data? A number of places:
- CRM data: Your customer relationship management (CRM) tool naturally has tons of information about your customers. A well-managed and maintained CRM should already ask many relevant questions to build a B2B marketing persona. Assuming salespeople keep the CRM updated as they pitch, you should be able to find meaningful information about both prospects and clients in the pipeline, allowing you to draw insights and connections between both potential and active clients.
- Prospecting and social data: Your CRM should have some prospecting data, but other lead generation tools are also valuable data resources. For instance, your email marketing lists or social media followers offer information on people who have already opted into your messaging. Those people are very likely high-quality targets for future marketing campaigns and, thus, valuable to know more about. LinkedIn is an especially valuable resource for this.
- Web data: Tools like Google Analytics offer performance indicators like sessions, bounce rates, and conversions to help you better understand your existing marketing. You can also analyze success through various demographics and create multiple segments of your audience.
- Qualitative data: Finally, talk to your customers! As you build your B2B marketing personas, speak to some of the decision-makers who already use your product to understand what they like about your product, what they use it for, and what influenced their decision to become a customer. You can do this anonymously through digital surveys, salespeople relationships, or scheduling time to speak with them directly.
3. Create your personas
Now you’re ready to create your B2B marketing personas. These personas should focus on business motivations, challenges, and objectives, but they’re still representative of individuals, not companies.
As you discover patterns between different types of buyers in your research, you can begin to segment them in ways that make sense for your business. Ultimately, you should try to create anywhere from two to six B2B marketing personas.
An outstanding B2B marketing persona will break down a little like this:
- Company size
- Job title or seniority, and whether or not they are a decision-maker
- Primary job responsibilities
- KPIs for their position
- Highest level of education
- Preferred method(s) of communication
- Buying power
- Frustrations and challenges
- How your product or service helps them
As paradoxical as it sounds, B2B marketing personas should be “generally specific.” Each persona should aim to hit a sweet spot of being general enough to apply to thousands of individuals yet specific enough to only require a few versions of similar marketing materials.
It’s a good idea to get creative with how you present your buyer personas internally. Make your buyer personas come to life by designing visually-appealing personas that depict a clear image of the individual. Then, share them throughout your company to keep everyone aligned and updated over time as your product and messaging evolve.
4. Use your B2B marketing personas
Finally, remember actually to use your B2B marketing personas. You may have to adapt your marketing strategy, but it’s worth the more personalized, engaging experience. The whole point is to target your marketing strategies to segmented audiences better.
One common use of personas is in content marketing. It’s easy to create content based on each persona, tailored to where they are in the sales funnel and what their objectives or challenges may be.
Likewise, tailor your email, social, and other marketing channel efforts to cater to the personas you know prefer those mediums. Then remember to keep your personas up-to-date and ensure the entire company is aligned on who these personas are.
Crafting B2B marketing personas is essential for optimizing your marketing campaigns. In a hyper-competitive B2B marketplace, personas offer a way to streamline and personalize your marketing campaigns to reach the right decision-makers at the right time, leading to higher conversion rates.
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