Crafting the B2B Persona: 8 Essential Components
Posted October 14, 2016
Crafting the B2B Persona: 8 Essential Components
Posted October 14, 2016
If you have any interest in exceeding revenue and lead goals, your business needs to nail each B2B persona. There’s no way around it. We recently took a look at our own prospect personas, and this is what we learned.
As the team at Four Quadrant mentions:
“Over 70% of B2B organizations that exceed revenue and lead goals have documented personas…”
Businesses that haven’t defined their prospect personas have about a 35% chance to just meet their goals. And one-fourth of B2B organizations that fail to realize persona importance will miss their goals completely.
But most businesses already realize all of this. You likely have heard plenty about prospect personas over the past few years and have already developed one for your organization.
The thing is, developing your persona isn’t something that you can just do once and forget about. Instead, it’s something that you need to adapt and improve upon on an ongoing basis as you gather more information about your customers.
Those same companies that consistently exceeded their revenue and lead goals were over 7x more likely to update their personas every six months.
To put it bluntly; if you want to excel as a B2B organization, you need to have detailed prospect personas and you need to update them on a regular basis.
How do you do that? Let’s find out.
Focus Personas On Email Marketing
When creating a B2B persona, tailor the information you gather to something that can guide your email marketing efforts.
Focusing on more targeted and relevant email communication can make it much easier to lay out the information essential to creating a strong persona.
If you were to focus on creating your prospect persona for the sole use of your sales rep, for instance, you may miss information necessary to cultivate a long term, useful relationship.
Focusing on how to better serve your prospects through email, on the other hand, maintains long term communication while also helping you determine the prospect’s short term challenges, goals, etc.
But while developing a prospect persona is incredibly important for effective email marketing, its use certainly does not stop there. For maximum ROI, you want a persona that can be used by individuals across your organization.
The great part about focusing your persona on how to better communicate with your prospects through email is that it can do just that; it can serve an essential purpose for everyone from sales reps and content marketers to developers and marketing heads.
Now that we’ve established a guideline for how your persona will be created, let’s dive deeper into where that information will be found.
Mine the Data You Already Have
Nailing your B2B persona can seem like an impossible task. Where are you supposed to start? How narrow should your target be? Where do you get the information from to form your prospect persona?
Fortunately, it’s highly likely that you have much of the necessary information already available. As your business has grown, you’ve likely dealt with a wide range of different types of customers.
Understanding the data behind the customers that you’ve already earned is a necessary first step in determining what type of buyer you can expect to attract in the future. Now, while this may seem like a simple philosophy, there are some difficulties associated with this process.
For one, you need to know what information about your current and past customers should be used. And, if you’re dealing with current and past customers that come from a wide range of demographics, industries, and roles, you need to know which ones you should hone in on.
Secondly, you’ll need to know how to use this information. That’s what this guide attempts to do; show you what information you need and where you can find it.
Let’s get started.
Creating Your Primary Persona
When you first create a persona, your goal should be to define and detail your primary prospect. This should be the person/s that are currently the most common users of your product/service.
One of the biggest challenges for many organizations when doing this is that they don’t understand what information is and isn’t necessary while creating their primary persona.
Many times, marketing teams get stuck in the trap of trying to provide way too much, and too specific, information. The key here is to develop a primary persona that is specific about the things that matter and omit, or remain broad, about the things that don’t.
The role your prospect has in the company is something that you will want to be as specific as possible about. The amount of kids they have are things that simply don’t matter.
As Content Marketing Institute contributor Arbath Albee mentions about what matters when creating your persona:
“What does apply are insights to the work life, objectives, orientation, and obstacles your buyer faces that could be addressed by whatever you sell. I don’t care if he lives in a tent, a sprawling rambler in the suburbs, or a cramped apartment in the city. That’s not going to influence how he builds consensus with his team to buy cloud storage, beef up his network to enable mobility, or decide to virtualize his company’s call center.”
Don’t strain yourself debating over the things that don’t matter and focus on the things that will make your persona something that can be used effectively by marketers, sales reps, and content creators across your organization.
Importance of Segmentation
As you are creating your primary persona, it’s important to realize that this will generally not end up being the final aspect of your persona creation efforts.
While this primary persona will serve as your baseline, segmenting into secondary personas will almost always be necessary.
This is especially true if you have a product/service that can be used across several different industries.
Segmenting becomes incredibly important as it relates to email marketing, as you’ll want to be able to tailor specific email content to the right people for maximum effectiveness.
As you create your primary and secondary personas, it’s generally a good idea to start with the prospect’s personal background. Remember, be specific about what matters most (job title, experience, goals, etc.) and omit or be broad about what doesn’t (number of children, etc.)
Demographics & Firmagraphics
Demographics and firmographics — which, as a data based ABM platform, we have a lot of — are always the first aspect of persona creation. Fortunately, they’re something that you should already have detailed information about.
Understanding and identifying firmographics is especially important for B2B organizations, as you’ll likely need to qualify leads according to size or industry.
There are a few main pieces of demographics and firmographics that you will want to hone in on here.
- Professional background
- Age range
- Skills, abilities
- Company size & location
When determining demographics, there are several options for finding the most accurate and useful information possible.
To ramp up your efforts, and get as detailed as possible, it’s best to utilize a combination of social media demographics and data you’ve accumulated via your CRM or email marketing campaigns.
Do Demographics Really Matter?
There seems to be a notion brewing in the B2B marketing world that demographics don’t really matter when constructing a buyer persona.
While there is some demographical information that won’t play a major role, research shows that many of the things that many marketers say don’t matter, such as age and gender, actually matter quite a bit.
For instance, you’re definitely going to interact with a Millennial much differently than you would a Baby Boomer. And you’ll especially communicate differently with a female Baby Boomer than you would with a male Millennial.
So, yes, demographics do matter.
A Deeper Look at Firmographics
Identifying and understanding your target customer’s firmographics is right up there with demographics when it comes to its role in constructing a strong B2B persona.
This is also something that will differ from organization-to-organization, depending on whether you serve multiple industries or provide a more singular solution.
If you do serve multiple industries, you’ll likely be better off laying out information regarding company size. Things like company revenue and number of employees are most applicable here, as that allows you to really hone in on the type of buyer you’re after.
But identifying, for example, that your customer works in the finance or IT industry isn’t the hard part. The hard part comes when you’re forced to segment and develop personas based on a lead’s role within the company, unique pain points, goals, etc.
That’s where we’re headed next.
Role Within the Company
A prospect’s role within the company is vitally important, as it will play a significant role in how your email content is worded.
You’ll want to start with simple information like job role and title. Once you’ve got this information laid out, dive a little deeper by determining whether they’re an individual contributor or if they’re responsible for managing other people.
Determining who this buyer reports to, and who reports to them, is also crucial when constructing a B2B persona. Understanding all of these things makes it much easier to create content that your prospects will find useful and relevant.
What Metrics Are Used to Determine Their Job Effectiveness?
Maybe even more important than your prospect’s role within the company is what metrics are used to determine their job effectiveness.
Knowing and understanding this allows you to better show how you can help improve these metrics, and therefore make your buyer become more effective at their job.
After all, who doesn’t want to become more effective at their job?
What Does a Day in Their Life Look Like?
Having an understanding of what a day in your prospect’s life looks like is also essential. Things that you’ll want to know include:
- What are they doing when they’re most productive?
- What skills are they using to do their job?
- What tools are they using to do their job?
- What products/services do they use on a daily basis?
While this information may be a bit more difficult to find than the other things listed here, understanding it can really take your persona to another level.
In most instances, your prospect’s goals are related to the metrics used to determine their job effectiveness. If their job is to meet a quarterly leads quota for their sales team, for instance, then this could also be defined as a goal. When determining this, be sure to also lay out goals that are more ambitious than simply meeting their quota.
Developing an understanding of what makes your target buyer look good will set you up for much more effective communication than simply knowing what they need to do their job.
Pain Points & Challenges
This is where your buyer persona really begins to take shape. By identifying your target’s pain points and challenges, you can better position yourself for showing them exactly how you can help them.
If you’re a SaaS or DaaS company, aligning this information with the problem that your product solves helps drive a more productive sales conversation on every level.
Time, money, and resources (people, tools, etc.) are obviously the most common challenges that you’ll find with your target buyer.
But just laying out these issues isn’t the important part here. As you layout the challenges that your target deals with, try to develop an illustration of how that problem makes them feel.
If your prospect is constantly dealing with tight deadlines, they’re likely feeling overwhelmed.
If they’re constantly dealing with a lack of budget, they’re likely feeling stressed about meeting goals with limited resources.
Some of the more pertinent information to identify includes:
- What are the trigger-points that cause your prospect to start looking for solutions?
- What specific problem does your product/service solve for the prospect?
- What is the frustration/stress level of someone that is now forced to reach out for the solutions you offer?
When you understand how they feel, you can create content that lets your prospect know that you truly understand them.
What Might Prevent Them from Buying?
In order to put your sales team in the best possible position to succeed, they’ll need to understand the things that stand in the way of prospects making a purchase.
Some of the most common barriers include things like:
- The actual decision makers don’t see it as a need
- Pricing and budget
- Challenges related to organizational structure
Knowing what barriers stand in the way of your prospect making a purchase will make you much more prepared when objections occur.
Creating, developing, and continually improving upon your B2B personas will play a major role in the future success of your business. Ideally, your B2B persona becomes as close as possible to the quality leads that you generate for your business. In a nutshell, transforming your data into actual people.