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The Ultimate B2B Buyer Persona Guide Made Simple

Posted by Pamela Keniston

B2B buyer persona guide made simple.

If only all buyers were as easy to figure out as characters in a movie or novel.  The good news is that you don't have to guess what your prospects are looking for; Not when you use buyer personas. Let's check out how this works. 

What are Buyer Personas? 

 

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Buyer personas have become a hot topic hand-in-hand with the growth of content marketing. Buyers no longer want advertising. They want information. This is especially true of B2B buyers.

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In fact:

66% to 90% of the buying journey is complete before prospects even contact a vendor. 

 

This means you need to be in sync with your buyers' needs. How do you do that? That's where buyer personas enter. 

Buyer personas are fictional characters based on actual data from current customers and leads, field market research, and data collected from your sales team.

The data is used to build a picture of your typical customer. And since not all customers are cookie cutter, you'll probably want to create several buyer personas. 

For instance, let's say you sell software to illustrators. Now, Bill may illustrate children's books, and Rachel may illustrate for tech magazines. Even though they both make good use of your product, their buying habits and personas will be quite different.

One may be used to working solo and the other may work with a team. One may illustrate in black and white only. You get the idea.

The concept of creating buyer personas is to understand these differences so you market your product with a personalized touch.

 

Why Should You Use B2B Buyer Personas?

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Did you know that according to ITSMA:

Among the 73% of companies who use, or plan to use, buyer personas, 85% are not using them correctly?

Many companies get caught up in irrelevant details when creating personas, such as what type of car the buyer drives or what fake name to give the persona. Those details don't matter. 

If you've traveled to a foreign country where you don't speak the language, you know what a sense of relief you feel when you find someone who understands you. It's really no different for you customers. They want to be understood, and creating buyer personas helps you do that for them. 

When used properly, buyer personas yield greater leads, and increase customer retention because you already "get" them. No translation needed. 

You can then proceed to create content that they want, marketing offers that appeal to them, and products and services designed to fit their needs. 

 

 

How to Build Useful Buyer Personas

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1. Gather Information

The first step to creating useful buyer personas is to gather information. Here are some things you'll want to find out about your buyers: 

  • Their job title and description
  • Their industry
  • The size of their company
  • What their typical day looks like
  • Which tools they use the most
  • What success in their role means
  • What challenges they face
  • Where they turn for industry information
  • Which social media platforms they utilize
  • Personal details (married, children, education)
  • How they research a product or service before making a decision
  • How they prefer to do business (phone, internet)

If they are a current client, you can also ask:

  • What they love about your product or service
  • What they would like to improve about your product or service

You'll likely think up many more questions tailored to your industry, but this boiler plate will get you going. 

When do you know that you have enough information? When you start predicting what your potential buyers will say next. 

 

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2. Organize the Information

Next you'll take all that juicy information you've uncovered through phone interviews or email surveys (don't feel shy about offering a small incentive for people's time), and organize it into your buyer personas. Between three and five personas are usually good to start with, unless you are a large company offering diverse products or services. 

Here are the first few steps in organizing all that data:

  • Give your buyer a name and a job title
  • Give your buyer a face by downloading a stock photo
  • Narrow down the details to those that are relevent and common to your buyer
  • Assemble them on a template, such as this one, from our partner Hubspot. 

3. Share the Personas with Your Sales Team

Now that you've gone through all that work to create b2b buyer personas, don't allow them to become relics in the back of the file cabinet. Share them with your sales and marketing teams to help them learn the language of your buyers. 

4. Update B2B Buyer Personas 

If the last time you created buyer personas you had a juno email account, it's way past time for some updates. Buyers' habits change and even job titles can become rare or even obsolete (data entry keyers and travel agents come to mind). 

 

Pitfalls of Creating Buyer Personas

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The bottom line is that you want you buyer personas to contain relevant information. Don't waste time creating personas that are not based on actual data. You may think you know your buyers, but until you get out there and start listening, you cannot provide a definitive persona that will be useful. 

You also want to avoid getting caught up in the little details. It's likely not relevant that the buyer of your automation software drives an American, or foreign-made, car. Stick to the information that relates to their purchasing decisions and how the product functions in their everyday lives. 

Many companies have good intentions of using buyer personas, but they never turn the page on using them. Not only do you need to share the personas with your sales and marketing team, but you need to explain how to use them.  

Forms should be tailored to each buyer persona targeted in a marketing campaign. You won't send the same email to Sally, who has been with your company for years, as you will to Sam, who just downloaded your ebook. The buyer persona will help you to custom design your marketing campaigns.

 

What to do Next

  1. Read about How to Rock at Content Creation so that you can provide your buyers with engaging content. 
  2. Download the Buyer Persona Template.
  3. Take the 60-day Content Creation Challenge to see how to turn your content marketing into a results-driven marketing machine. 

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Sep 15, 2015
 
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Wendy Marx

Wendy Marx is the founder and president of Marx Communications, a boutique inbound marketing and public relations agency. An award-winning B2B public relations pro, she has helped many small- & medium-sized firms (SMBs) become well-known industry brands and transform their businesses, going from Anonymity to Industry Icon™.

Her business articles have appeared in The New York Times, InformationWeek, Inc., Advertising Age, & Fast Company, among other outlets. 

View all posts by Wendy Marx