Buyer Personas – Get To Know Your Buyers

This post from Mike Kichline was live-blogged from his talk at the Growth Hacker 2014 in Seattle, WA

Why is it important to build a buyer persona? You need to know how and why a buyer is interested in your product.

In today’s B2B space, businesses are focusing heavily on content marketing to attract buyers. Content marketing is great, but your content needs to be relevant, engaging and actionable to attract potential buyers. By building content marketing around a buyer persona, marketers can help empower salespersons with helpful and actionable sales intelligence on prospective buyers. Buyer personas will help you understand how a buyer found your business and why it was interesting to them.

Additionally, when it comes to marketing, B2B buyers are becoming more critical. Buyers are researching your product before you have a chance to speak with them.

Some quick stats about B2B Buyers:

  • 93% of B2B buying decisions start with online research according to Marketo

  • An average of 9 informational assets are downloaded during the purchase process according to IDG

  • Almost 95% of recent B2B purchasers said the solution provider they chose “provided them with ample content to help navigate through each stage of the buying process” according to DemandGen

  • Industry research indicates that buyers are 2/3 of the way through their purchase process before they even engage with a salesperson according to Forrester Research, Inc.

In order for you to effectively sell your product, you need to understand who your buyers are and what makes them think the way they do about your product. Building buyers’ personas will help you determine what is convincing your customers to buy your product.

So what is a buyer persona? A buyer persona is a composite picture of the real people who buy, or might buy, products like yours, with detail about:

  • Their Problems

  • Their Points of View

  • Their Behaviors

  • When and how they make decisions

To be clear, however, a buyer persona is not demographics or job titles. For example, a director of marketing in one business may have vastly different roles and responsibilities in a different business.

Successful businesses build their buyer personas from several sources, including:

  • Interviews with prospective buyers and customers

  • Reaching out to sales teams

  • Talking to customer support

  • Reviewing win-loss reports

  • Monitoring select social media channels

  • Drilling into campaign data

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Buyer personas are created through awareness, research, evaluation and consideration. You want to know: what motivates your buyer? What does success look like? What are common disqualifiers and communication channels? What are your buyer’s roles in the buying journey?

To conclude, here are some additional tips I’ve learned in my time building buyer personas:

  • Interview your current customers so that you are aware of what they like in your business and your products. Remember their time is extremely valuable and respect that. One way to do this is by having face to face interactions with your customers.

  • Interview your prospective buyers and what have their experiences been like to know why they were considering in you. You’re going to hear different perspectives, so always be open to their opinions. Have two people, one person to ask questions, listen, and respond, and the other person to record information. This will help detail your research. After gathering this information, talk to your sales person on how to sell your product.

  • If you are able to sell to a buyer, talk to them after you’ve sold to them. What did you over-sell? What are they frustrated by?

  • Finally, review win and loss reports. Why did we win? Why did we lose? A great CRM system should help figure out why your tactics were successful or not.

Remember, the more you know about your customer, the better you will be able to sell to them. Here is a helpful table to help you map out personas discussed during the presentation.

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Mike is the President and CEO of Projectline Services, Inc., a global marketing consultancy with offices in Seattle, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Toronto and London. Projectline Services was recently named by the Seattle Met, Seattle Business Journal, and Inc. Magazine as a top business to work.

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