Every single decision made by marketing must be traced back to the understanding of how it will resonate with the target audience; meaning that every inbound and outbound marketing strategy should be primed to answer the questions and address the challenges of your buying market.
But answering their questions early on the buying cycle before they engage with your business, relies on being able to anticipate the varying needs of your audience. Every organisation can provide a basic profile of the customers they are trying to attract and the prospects they are speaking to, but successfully generating high quality leads within your target market that progress into high value customers requires much greater insights.
Gathering these insights is often an ongoing process that starts with knowing your customers inside out. Understanding customer needs and expectations is critical in creating long lasting relationships with your existing client base but also in creating lead generation campaigns that will grow the sales and marketing pipeline. As a fictional representation of your ideal customer, your buyer personas are an invaluable tool for creating a comprehensive picture of your ideal customer, representing both your existing customers and your target audience.
What role do buyer personas play in B2B marketing strategy development?
Buyer personas provide the insight needed to create tailored content and distribute targeted marketing messages to the specific subsets of individuals who make up your buying audience. Ultimately allowing you to create B2B lead generation campaigns designed to target your ideal customers. Knowing the basic profile of your target audience is no longer enough and its now essential that organisations take the time to discover the characteristics that make good customers good, and bad customers bad. The process of creating buyer personas allows organisations to identify what motivates their customers to behave the way they do and buy when and how they do.
Separating the good from the bad
Some prospects may seem good on paper, but experience often tells us that there is something about them that will make them undesirable as a customer - it may be that they are potential customers who would just be too expensive to acquire because of a low average sales price, or their unlikeliness to build a lasting relationship.
When creating your personas, it is important to also identify the characteristics of your undesirable customers. These behavioural traits can then be compiled into negative personas. While it is impossible to completely prevent these groups of people from your lead generation efforts, these negative personas can be used by your sales and marketing teams to identify the leads which shouldn’t be progressed through the pipeline, and if your marketing campaigns are targeted effectively at your buyer personas the number of these leads should be limited.
Getting to know your customers
The most successful buyer personas are based on insights gained from your existing customer base as well as ongoing market research activities. By conducting surveys and interviews and other research tactics of both your target audience and current customers a detailed depiction of who your ideal customer is can be created.
The number of personas an organisation has is highly dependent on the organisation itself and its target audience; this could be as little as two or three or as many as ten. However it is important to note that your marketing campaigns will often focus on a few primary personas to ensure your content is as specific as possible to helping resolve their challenges .
Get to know your customers a little better with these 4 tactics:
- Review your customer database to establish trends about your content is found and consumed by your leads and customers
- Work persona segmentation practices into your lead generation efforts, this could include creating smart forms which will allow you to create and build out a profile of information as they move throughout your website
- Create a closed feedback loop between marketing and sales, who offer different insights as different stages of the buyer's journey, and make buyer persona development a collaborative effort
- Look beyond sales and marketing to customer care teams or other client facing departments and see what insights they can provide about customer behaviours
Using what you know about your customers
Buyer personas are an invaluable tool when designing and delivering B2B lead generation campaigns. The information they provide creates an easily comprehensible representation of the individuals that make up your buying audience; making it easier to design engaging content and choose the channels with the greatest potential for success.
Knowing the details of the challenges faced by your personas mean that your lead generation efforts can be tailored to each persona: answering their questions before they have even asked them; providing relevant follow up content before they need to look for it; and providing information to help them at each stage of the buyer’s journey.
Taking this one step further, the information on your personas day to day lives and business operations may even allow you to identify potential prospects before they have even consciously recognised the challenges they are facing. What’s more, this information will enable you to detect how environmental influences - such as legislative changes - may impact the roles of your target audiences, allowing you to pre-empt their need for information and move ahead of the competition.
Quite obviously, revenue can come from more than just new customers and the value of the buyer’s journey doesn’t end at the pipeline. This knowledge can be used to anticipate the needs and requirements of your customers, eliciting customer satisfaction and creating long lasting relationships built on trust and loyalty. Satisfied customers are much more likely to renew contracts, source new products or services or recommend your organisation to peers.
With a foot already in the door, the land-and-expand business strategy becomes possible, taking what you already know about your customers to create a targeted campaign for existing accounts offering additional services which you have scoped out to help them with their other challenges.
Knowing your target customer is key to business growth and nurturing long-term relationships with your clients. Buyer personas are a critical step in creating B2B lead generation campaigns which continue to deliver high quality leads which progress through the pipeline.
Already have your buyer personas mapped out? Take a look at out checklist for your next steps in creating an IT Lead Generation Campaign.