In technology marketing, speaking to your customers and prospects as individuals is crucial if you want to cut through the noise. The reason for this is simple…Engineers are humans too with all the quirks and idiosyncrasies of other target groups!
With the emergence of social media and other digital platforms, it is more difficult for brands to guarantee their message will resonate and reach the right people. In what has become an increasingly competitive space, it’s no longer enough to take a generalised approach to marketing and ‘hope’ that you will be seen.
It is all too common for Tech B2B companies to focus their messaging inward – on their features and benefits a.k.a. ‘Speeds and Feeds’ – instead of looking outward and putting themselves in their customers’ shoes. That is why it is incredibly valuable, before initiating a new campaign or product launch, to build a persona profile of your typical buyer. By taking the time to understand the motivations and pain-points of your existing and potential customers, you stand a much better chance of producing messaging and content that will address their challenges and position your technology or service as the answer.
This work will ultimately ensure that your campaigns are highly targeted, which reduces wastage on marketing spend and leads to better lead generation and ROI. Let’s explore how building personas can optimise your B2B marketing campaigns.
What is a persona?
Before we dive into the benefits of creating persona profiles, it’s essential to outline what a persona is. The simplest definition is that they are fictional representations of your customers that will help you understand them better and tailor messaging and content to their specific needs, behaviours and concerns.
Think of customers and prospects as individuals
It’s not enough to build a single, generalised picture of your typical buyer. Although it’s valuable to identify what unites your buyers, it’s also important to consider that every existing or potential customer is unique. Therefore, it helps when building a persona profile to think of the people you are targeting as individuals and work out what differentiates them.
So, a persona development exercise will usually produce several profiles of different types of buyer. It helps when conducting this type of activity to think about a range of questions your typical buyer might answer, such as:
- Who am I?
- What makes me tick?
- Why am I important?
- Where will you find me?
- How can you influence me?
- What are the barriers to engaging with me?
- What are the best tools to communicate with me?
- What do you want me to do?
- What does success look like?
The answer to these questions helps us craft persona stories unique to each target audience. These persona stories not only help focus campaigns to produce optimal results, they also serve as short-hand for your marketing and agency team members when planning activities. “This campaign is for Henry” is a much quicker way to communicate with team members than listing out all of the demographics and targeting approach.
Five reasons why personas are valuable
By building a persona profile of your typical buyer, identifying their roles and responsibilities and understanding what motivates, challenges, unites and differentiates them; you can realise the following benefits:
- Highly targeted messaging and content
By developing messaging that speaks to your customers and prospects as individuals, rather than broadly and generically as a sector, you stand a much better chance of producing content that will appeal directly to them.
- Personalised marketing for different segments of your audience
Instead of sending the same lead nurturing emails to everyone in your database, you can segment by buyer persona and tailor your messaging according to what you know about those different personas.
- Pinpoint the needs of your customers
This makes it possible to identify their principal business or technical goals, understand their unique challenges; and establish what is likely to make a potential buyer take action.
- Negative personas aren’t a bad thing
They enable you to segment out the ‘bad apples’ from the rest of your contacts, which can help you achieve a lower cost-per-lead and cost-per-customer (and see higher sales productivity).
- More effective Account-Based Marketing (ABM)
Creating personas that are specific to your key accounts will enable you to focus your messaging and produce content that is specific to their requirements.
Segment further for greater success
Even if your ABM campaign is targeting just a handful, or even only one, specific account – for instance, the three biggest utility companies in the UK – taking the time to build a profile of your typical buyer persona, which might be an energy or change manager, can be incredibly valuable. You can also use this type of particular exercise to research a specific account in-depth and consider its strategy in the area that relates to your products and services.
How to build persona profiles
In our experience, the most cost and time-effective way to create persona profiles is to conduct an interactive workshop involving the senior internal stakeholders in your business who are involved in regular interaction with prospects, existing customers and key accounts – this personal knowledge is invaluable and by distilling it through open discussion the real nuggets that will enable your brand to cut through the noise can be found.
We start by working together to identify pain points, challenges and unmet needs for each persona. We then determine which value propositions you can offer to address those pain points and challenges. Finally, we take a hard look at how those value propositions can be differentiated from your competitors. Post-workshop, we weave those three elements into compelling, persona-based messaging that is sure to resonate with your customers.
For more information about the process, and to discuss how personas can optimise your B2B marketing campaign, get in touch with us.
Building personas = more productive marketing campaigns
Ultimately, taking the time to get to know your prospects and customers – by building and continually refining personas of them – will benefit your business. Indeed, as Drayton Bird wrote:
“If you have enough knowledge about somebody, you can approach that wonderful situation where the product fits the customer and sells itself.”
Commonsense direct and digital marketing, Drayton Bird, 2007 – Page 23.