Content Marketing Series Part 3
Each of your B2B clients and prospects is a unique company looking to address a specific need. But targeting individuals is not that efficient so instead you need to gear your marketing towards large segments that share common backgrounds, wants and needs.
B2B buyer personas allow you to develop a deeper understanding of your different buyer segments to customize your content to their specific needs, questions, and concerns. It helps you deliver the right content to the right person.
Where to Start Building Your Personas
Building personas isn’t a simple endeavor and requires time and effort to do the research needed to develop the source information to properly build one. Personas may be fictionalized representations of buyer segments, but they still need to be based on real data mixed with your understanding of the market and buyer motivations. The better the data the better the final result.
Some good sources to tap into include interviewing existing customers, salespeople in your company, support and customer service interactions and even prospects who did not choose to buy from you. You want to make sure that the list of questions you ask them are focused on the “what, where, how, and why” of their buyers journey. You will want to do 3-5 interviews with each persona segment to get started
The number of personas you will need to create will depend upon the size and complexity of your business and the products and services you offer. If you’re just getting started with building personas, then you probably want to limit yourself to 2-4 distinct personas. Over time you can add or edit existing personas as needed.
3 Steps to Create Your B2B Buyer Persona
Building personas is a complex process with multiple phases including data collection, interpretation, and analysis. Hubspot has an online buyer persona builder that will give you an idea of what’s involved in the process.
For our discussion we’re going to simplify the persona building down to three areas that will help us create and deliver relevant content: Who they are, What they want to achieve and Where they research.
Who They Are
Since your persona is a fictionalized representation of a person you need to build a background that will help you target content to. The first step is to humanizing your persona is to come up with a name that will resonate with your team. In traditional segmenting we use a title such as CFO, Marketing Manager, Owner, etc. But for our purposes we want something that’s going to be a bit more sticky such as “Financial Fred”, “Marketing Mary” or “Owner Owen”. As the details flesh out you’ll like find yourself referring to your persona’s simply as Fred, Mary or Owen.
With a name in place you need to build the background of there persona. What is their role in the company, what is a typical day like, what sort of tools do they use, what sort of associations do they belong to, what are they job responsibilities, how do they make purchase decisions, etc. Any question that provides insight to understanding the persona is worth asking.
You also want to develop information about the company. Are they a large, medium or small size business? How many employees do they have? What is their annual revenue. What industries do they work with? There are a lot more question you can ask if relevant. Even though you may know some of this information, asking open-ended questions may reveal additional information that you can use.
If you look at enough information on personas, inevitably you will see recommendations to also build a personal background. While that makes sense for B2C companies, for our B2B needs I really don’t care where they live, what school they went to or how many kids and dogs they have. Those are questions that are more specific to the individual and better left to the sales team to develop during the relationship development phase.
What They Want To Achieve
Each of your personas are dealing with day to day challenges to carry out their job. You’ve already determined that they have a need for your product or service, so now its time to learn more about their goals and objectives, challenges and opportunities, and any common objections or requirements.
You also need to learn more about how their company goes about making purchase decisions. Who are the influencers within the organization? Are decisions made by an individual or a team? What would make them hesitant to purchase, or more likely to make a decision? How long is their buying cycle? Is it seasonal or ongoing? Once again the list of questions you could ask is endless. The key is to ask the questions that will help you get a better feel for the segment and tailor your content marketing to.
Where They Research
Because we’re using a content marketing strategy, the questions we’re getting answered are designed to help us craft content that will resonate with the persona. It’s important to understand what types of information they consume and where do they go to find that information. Do they prefer blog posts, white papers, webinars or videos? Each person you interview will have their own preferred choice, but as a group what are the best types of content to produce? Additionally you’ll likely find that there are a wide number of resources that they tap into. What are the more common resources that we can use to distribute our content such as on our blog, via an email newsletter, on social media or in industry forums.
Once your research is complete you have the information needed to create and deliver content that will be relevant and useful to your persona. Your products or services no longer need to be the focus of your content. Instead you can create content that your prospects are actively seeking to address challenges, opportunities, goals and objectives. In other words you have the information at hand to deliver the right content to the right person at the right time.
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Check Out the Articles in This Series That Have Been Published
Article 1: Build A Better B2B Marketing Strategy
Article 2: Creating Your Comprehensive B2B Marketing Strategy
Article 3: Create Business to Business Buyer Personas
Article 4: The Ultimate Guide to Keyword Research
Article 5: The Stages of the Buyers Journey
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