A key element of B2B marketing success is to truly understand whom you are marketing to.
In other words, you want to know your buyer persona like you know your oldest friend. Building a great buyer persona goes beyond just understanding customer demographics. It is understanding who your target persona is as a person. By this I mean really understanding who they are, what they want, and how they feel.
A thorough buyer persona dives into questions such as:
- What would they say to a friend about their job, goals, and career?
- How do they want to be viewed within their company and industry?
- Do they want to be viewed as the thought leader, the person who gets things done, and/or the technical expert?
- Do they want greater reliability from their existing solutions so they can rest easier when they are away from the office and focus on other matters?
So how do you understand your customers? Check out these five steps that will help you build that comprehensive buyer persona and understanding of your customer base that will set your marketing efforts apart from the masses.
Step 1: Be Inquisitive
The first step is to actually care to understand your customers. This can be easier said than done. It requires a genuine desire to understand as much as you can about your target customer. If this does not come easy to you, start practicing now by asking more questions to friends and colleagues about their interests, goals, and challenges.
Step 2: Be Engaged
The next step is to engage with your customers to better understand them. In an ideal world, you can have lunch or dinner with customers or even meet them for happy hour.
Some great questions to ask them include:
- What are your goals for this year?
- What are you biggest challenges?
- What do you like to do outside of work?
- What prevents you from accomplishing more?
Listen to what they say, how they say it and which topics spark the most enthusiastic responses. These will be the keys to unlocking your marketing potential for their buyer persona.
Pro Tip: If you have difficulty getting the sales team to facilitate facetime between you and the customers, take the initiative to call to your prospects. Let them know you are trying to be a better marketer and want to understand what their goals and needs are. Scary? Maybe, but you will earn some serious credibility from the sales team for doing this.
Finally, engaging in coversation with the sales team is an often overlooked marketing asset. It will not only strengthen your internal professional relationships, but it will also deepen your understanding of your clients. Since the sales team spends the most time actually talking with the clients live, they may have more valuable insights into their persona.
Step 3: Be Sensitive
The third step is to picture yourself in the shoes of your target persona. A colleague and I recently met with a customer in person. We had a very nice meeting and talked about both our work and personal lives. I asked our customer a lot of questions to get to know what she wanted from us and what her business goals were. After the meeting, I asked my colleague what he heard her say. He took great notes and captured what she said very well. However, he missed a key part of the conversation: how she felt about what we discussed.
She held some ideas and plans with strong conviction and she needed to convince her executives on the merits of investing in her ideas. She was frustrated because her firm was not investing in her ideas and wasn’t taking advantage of her knowledge and skills. I could feel her underlying frustrations with this when I spoke to her and could picture what it felt like to be in her shoes. Helping her with this challenge would be far more beneficial than any tactical problem we could solve, both for her personally and for her company.
Step 4: Be a Pattern Finder
The fourth step is to determine the commonalities between your customers. You may find some areas with wide divergence of interest within your customer base, but most well thought out personas have strong commonalities. If you think about it, most people want to be valued, to be successful, to have certainty, and a bit of adventure. Most people enjoy spending time with family and friends and enjoy things like sports, travel, or food. People in the same target persona tend to have even more similarities, as they often have similar backgrounds, ages, and even geographic locations.
Step 5: Applying Your Findings
Once you have built your target persona to include who they are as a person, make sure your marketing content and approaches are tailored to those specifications. For example, if your target persona cares about being a thought leader, market to them with materials about being an expert on their desired subjects. If your persona wants to be the technical expert, market to them with technical, data-driven materials. Don't worry about every single tactic speaking deeply about your persona's personality, but do ensure that your overall approach is built with a deep understanding of your persona.
Bonus Tip: Pay close attention to how "The Greats" market and communicate with their customers. As B2B marketers, we can learn a great deal about personal marketing from our big-name B2C colleagues.
Now, get to work by scheduling some time with your customers! Want to learn how to create great content based on your customers' unique personas? Check out our white paper, How Great Content Dresses Your Company for Success: