Every experience someone has with your brand should feel like it was made just for them, and that includes your content. Personalization makes prospective buyers feel understood, and the more your brand’s content resonates with your audience, the more likely they are to engage and ultimately buy your product or service. Buyer personas are a powerful tool in helping you create this pitch-perfect content.
Creating content that resonates in a personal way with your target audience isn’t easy. It first takes understanding your audience on a deep level and knowing what makes them tick. The alternative—creating content with no target audience in mind in hopes of casting a wide net and appealing to everyone—runs the risk of being so generic that it appeals to no one. Complicating matters, many brands have more than one target audience because they sell to more than one type of buyer, each with their own demographic and psychographic particularities. To personalize your content to your target audience, whether you have one or many, you need buyer personas.
No matter what you’re selling or whom you’re selling to, buyer personas are an effective tool to guide and hone your content marketing efforts to ensure you’re sharing the right message with the right people at the right time. With buyer personas, you are able to empathize with and relate to your target audience, allowing you to tailor your content to their specific needs, wants, values, and communication style. This leads to stronger, more resonant messaging, which facilitates the interest and engagement needed to nurture a prospective buyer through the sales funnel.
Whether you’re just getting started with buyer personas or want to polish up an outdated set, we’ve got you covered with a full breakdown for your B2B needs—from why buyer personas work to tips for creating effective buyer personas for your brand.
What is a Buyer Persona?
In simplest terms, a buyer persona is a semi-fictitious profile of your brand’s archetypical ideal customer. A buyer persona reflects what they value, think, and feel, what motivates them, and how they approach purchase decisions. It should include detailed information such as demographics, buying habits, lifestyle, values, pain points, media consumption habits, likes, and dislikes, all backed by relevant quantitative and qualitative data and market research. If your brand has more than one target audience, you can create different buyer personas for each of your audience segments. Having multiple buyer personas is especially important if your audience segments have opposing characteristics.
Brand personas should be written as if they represent living, breathing people. Essentially, you need to employ a mix of reason, ingenuity, and storytelling to transform the information you have on your target audience into well-rounded characters with the psychological complexities of actual humans.
Using Buyer Personas
Once written, buyer personas will inform how your brand communicates with your audience by giving you detailed information on the people to whom you’re marketing. From there, you can build a compelling content strategy that considers your buyer persona’s professional struggles, addresses their gaps in knowledge, and provides information that mitigates or solves their pain points. By doing so, you’ll establish your brand as an industry expert, building trust you can leverage to sell your product or service.
As an example, let’s say you’re a staffing firm, and your buyer persona is a hiring manager at a large corporation. First, consider your persona’s goals and motivations as a hiring manager (e.g., to attract and hire the most qualified, best-fit candidates possible), alongside the pain points, challenges, and barriers that might prevent them from achieving these goals. You’ll also want to consider where and how they get their information. Then, develop branded content that speaks directly to their goals and challenges and distribute it in a way that makes it likely that they will consume it. In this example, you might create and share a white paper that educates hiring managers on innovative hiring strategies, and you might promote it on LinkedIn, where they are most likely to be active in a professional capacity.
The goal is to continuously position your brand as a trusted resource that your target audience can turn to when looking for solutions or opportunities. The target audience represented by your buyer persona will find value in your branded content because it helps them stay informed about their field, gain knowledge about how to embrace opportunities, and overcome barriers standing in the way of their goals. In turn, their affinity for your brand will grow, increasing the likelihood that they will champion your brand within their company and eventually convert as a customer.
How Buyer Personas Are Different for B2B
It’s important to know how B2B buyer personas are different from business-to-customer (B2C) personas. The most notable variation is that B2B buyer personas speak to both the targeted business and that business’s decision makers. You need to understand the values that drive the companies you’re trying to attract as well as the behaviors and personalities of those calling the shots. Your personas should account for both.
In addition, B2B decision makers are often bound by an approval process and/or are keenly aware that their purchase decisions can impact an entire organization, so they are less likely than consumers to make an impulse purchase. That’s worth noting, because it means your B2B buyer will have a longer buyer’s journey. For that reason, it is even more important to build trust and establish credibility through a range of content during the awareness and consideration stages of the buyer’s journey.
With these points in mind, it is crucial to develop detailed buyer personas that highlight any barriers that could prevent a final purchase during their drawn-out buyer’s journey. With buyer personas, you will be able to create content that convinces your prospective buyer of your brand’s value and helps them get other stakeholders on board to ultimately close the deal.
Getting Down to Business
When conducting your own buyer persona development exercise, remember these seven tips:
- First identify the industry and/or types of businesses you’re targeting, and then determine the key decision makers with purchase power. Gather information on them. Start by interviewing members of your internal sales and business development team for their perspective—they can be a trove of anecdotal data. Next, you can gather social media or customer service data specific to the industries or business types you’re targeting, and research comparable and opposing brands. Social listening is also a great way to gather further data and anecdotal evidence. By gauging the conversation around your brand and brand category, you can develop a better understanding of the wants and needs of those in your audience and the questions they have that are relevant to your product, service, or industry.
- Stay focused on the segment of your target audience that generates the most revenue, as this will help you direct your efforts to where it will have the greatest impact. If multiple audience segments comprise your top revenue-generators, don’t worry about choosing just one. You can always develop multiple personas to represent your key players.
- When researching your personas, ask yourself the following questions:
- Where do my target businesses operate?
- What do I know about that region(s)?
- Where do the decision makers in my audience live?
- What work responsibilities do those decision makers have?
- How do they consume information?
- What are the biggest professional challenges facing those decision makers?
- How are businesses learning about my product (e.g., word of mouth, social media, billboards)?
- What competing brands do they like?
- Under what circumstances would they buy my product?
- What matters to my buyer when it comes to my product?
- What does my buyer value?
- What obstacles could prevent my buyer from making a purchase?
- What language does my buyer use when talking about topics relevant to my product or service?
- What motivates my buyer?
- What does my buyer find offensive or off-putting?
- Be sure your profile includes detailed information like age, income, background story, expectations (as they relate to your brand), goals, needs, interests, and buying habits. The answers to your questions above will help you inform these areas.
- Don’t gloss over their faults. People aren’t perfect, and your personas shouldn’t embody an idealized version of your audience. Instead, try to envision their quirks and challenges (e.g., financial constraints, time, fears).
Like all good things, developing compelling buyer personas takes practice. By refining this technique, you’ll foster a stronger understanding of your audience, making it easier to create resonant content that speaks directly to their professional pain points and offers beneficial solutions that orient your brand as a trusted subject matter expert. This enables you to more aptly shepherd prospective buyers through the awareness and consideration stages of their buyer’s journey and into the decision phase, bringing them closer to buying your product or solution.