b2b_persona_cmxA buyer persona is essentially a profile that describes your ideal customer, enabling you to find, engage and convert prospects, as well as strengthen existing customer relationships. In conjunction with content marketing, knowing your buyers’ motivations and behaviors will help formulate the strategies you need to put in place to successfully connect with buyers.

While the process of creating a persona is basically the same for B2B (Business-to-Business) and B2C (Business-to-Consumer), the resulting personas will look very different. While not true in every instance, general differences between B2B and B2C are:

  • B2B persona is an entity/company; B2C persona is an individual
  • B2B is more relationship driven; B2C is more product driven
  • B2B has a longer sales cycle
  • B2B has a smaller, more focused target audience
  • B2B purchase based on business rationale; B2C purchase based on emotion

Therein lies the difference: marketing to an individual as the end-user is not the same as marketing to a business as the end-user. An individual purchaser responds on a more personal or emotional basis (needs and desires), the business customer’s priorities will be around what makes sense for his/her bottom line: profitability and enhancement of their own company.

“Today’s buying companies expect understanding of their businesses, how they operate, and what can be done to improve it.” – Tony Zambito

Who are your existing customers?

Perform an in-depth analysis of your current customer base to determine exactly what businesses are responding to your brand messaging and using your products or services. Are you effectively reaching the target audience you intended to reach? Have you waivered from your original targeted goal and stumbled into “uncharted territory?” (You may have organically carved out a new niche that you’ll want to get to know so you can better engage and expand that audience.)

Chances are there are multiple types of business buyers within your customer base and these will each become a separate persona requiring targeted content marketing efforts.

Why are your customers your customers?

Apart from, “they need what you sell to conduct their own business,” why do your customers choose to do business with you instead of with one of your competitors?  Contributing factors could include:

  • Price
  • Benefits
  • Sales team
  • Customer service
  • Product or service quality
  • Availability/convenience
  • Company trust and integrity
  • Unique product or service
  • Reliability
  • Information provider

Survey your existing customers to pinpoint why you are their vendor of choice. A survey can be an email campaign, a survey on you website, a direct mail piece, over the phone, or a direct face-to-face conversation by your sales force.

Find out what factors most strongly influenced the decision to buy from you and you should see customer buying patterns begin to emerge. What “tips the scale” in your favor when they are at the decision making stage in the buying cycle?

You will also see if your brand messaging is portraying your company as you want to be known.  Do customers see your business as you see your business?

Where are your customers connecting with you?

Finding out exactly where your customers hang out online should be a vital part of your surveys.  Wherever your customers and potential customers are online is where you want to be, too, building a community and creating relationships to thwart the competition.  If your customers don’t use Twitter, don’t waste time and resources by creating a presence on that social media channel.

Depending on how you market, you may have a blend of on-the-ground salespeople, plus an online presence.  Knowing how your customers connect with you is part of the persona/s you are creating.  Do you get walk-ins, phone calls or traffic from a company Facebook page? Is LinkedIn a profitable business connection? Twitter, Pinterest and YouTube generally are more personal social media platforms, but they could factor into your customer activity and brand awareness.

What do your customer personas look like?

The previously defined steps will provide sufficient data to compile customer personas.  As mentioned, the buyer persona is essentially a profile that describes your ideal customer/s. By knowing the “triggers” that move prospects through the sales cycle, you can design your content to meet each persona’s needs, as well as posting appropriate content to each social platform. Typical buyer personas could include:

  • The lowest price buyer
  • The must-be-on-the-cutting-edge of everything buyer
  • The crisis buyer – need it right now!
  • The features buyer
  • The quality-comes-first buyer
  • The make-me-look-good buyer

Once the personas are created, make sure this information is available company-wide– sales, marketing, customer service, etc.—so everyone in the company is on the same page and clearly understanding your target market/s.

What does this mean for your content marketing strategy?

Content marketing is the marketing and business process of creating and distributing valuable and compelling content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.

By establishing customer personas, you’ll be able to customize content to fit the specific needs that speak to your different customers and prospects.  All your content should strive to build brand awareness and visibility, demonstrate industry excellence, foster and build relationships, and drive behavior. Value-rich content will:

  • be relevant to your customers’ business decisions
  • help your salespeople sustain relationships with existing customers and generate solid leads
  • accommodate the nuances of your different customer segments and provide specific content
  • provide cutting-edge, interesting and trustworthy information
  • communicate as an understanding community member–not an outsider
  • clearly define your products/services/benefits
  • compile competitor comparisons to demonstrate your expertise

Knowing your buyers’ motivations and behaviors (the result of taking time to create customer personas) will help formulate solid content marketing strategies that will successfully connect you with buyers and potential buyers. These targeted strategies will produce higher-quality lead generation, improved customer engagements and increased sales.

Join the conversation:

  • How have buyer personas impacted your content marketing strategy?
  • If you have multiple buyer personas, what specific differences are there?
  • Can you suggest any other important elements as part of building a buyer persona?

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