“Who are you marketing to?” seems like a simple question, but the correct answer takes some work. “We are in the B2B space,” is accurate on the highest level and narrowing it down to technology buyers brings you a little closer to your goal. But the question still remains, who is your true audience? The best marketers understand who “people who need computer servers,” really are and how they spend their online day.
The Path to Personas
Keep asking questions about your customer to reveal the individuals to whom you market. Not the actual people, of course, but what are referred to as “buyer personas.” These personas outline very specific characteristics of the types of people you are trying to reach. Understand a target buyer persona and you greatly increase your odds of success. Ignore them, and, well… your competitors will gladly reach out to them.
You Don’t Know Jack
In our example of the computer server business, sales are made to company but you seal the deal by impressing multiple influencers within the organization. Jack is the server technician who monitors and manages all the company’s hardware. He’s looking for equipment that comes online easily and runs flawlessly. His boss has asked him for a recommendation. If Jack’s not onboard, you’ll have trouble closing the deal.
Christine is a mid-level finance manager driven by number-crunching power for her her data-intensive monthly reports. Reassure her that your product will help her achieve her goals and your proposal will get the green light. You get the picture – attract the gatekeeper and sell the bully with the juice.
The Persona Payoff
Researching and developing your buyer persona takes time and effort, but it pays off in a variety of ways.
- Engagement. Prospects who see and hear themselves in the problem/solution scenarios you describe are much more likely to request additional information.
- Insight. Understand what motivates each buyer type, provide helpful information on ways to improve their product or service, and fine-tune how you promote it.
- Focus. Knowing who your prospects are helps you understand who they are not, allowing you to concentrate on the right targets.
So, how detailed should your buyer personas be? As detailed as you can make them! Everything from documented purchase behaviors, to educated guesses on motivation can help bring this person to life.
Susan is a 45-year-old, Senior VP with a master’s in computer science. She’s a wife and mother fully committed to her career. She’s often torn between her loyalty to the operations side of the business and her desire to please the executive team. Susan is business savvy, but her real strength is her technology background, so she will recommend a product that improves process efficiency to directly affect the bottom line. You may even want to choose a stock photo to represent this person so that everyone on your team has the same image of your potential client.
Ultimately, the better you are at addressing the challenges of real people – as represented by their vividly imagined personas – the more successful you will be.