Considering developing buyer personas to effectively market your business and bring in new clients? You should be. A buyer persona is an essential part of your marketing efforts. If you don’t have accurate buyer personas, you will most likely fail to address the right audience.

So far, so good, but not all personas are alike. A buyer persona for B2B is markedly different than one for B2C. And even if you’ve successfully separated B2B from B2C, you can still end up focusing on irrelevant information. To make sure you’re on the right path from the very beginning, it is important to keep the following things in mind when creating your B2B buyer personas.

What Was a Buyer Persona Again?

Let’s go over the original definition from 2002 by Tony Zambito, before we go into the differences between B2B and B2C. It goes as follows:

“Buyer personas are research-based archetypal (modeled) representations of who buyers are, what they are trying to accomplish, what goals drive their behavior, how they think, how they buy, and why they make buying decisions.”

As he adds at a later date, this definition should also include where buyers buy and when they decide to buy.

Confusing B2B Personas with B2C

With this definition in mind, let’s look at the importance of making a clear distinction between B2C and B2B personas. The former include a lot of personal(ity) information, related to where personas live, what they do when they’re offline, what their dreams and interests are, etc. All of this may be highly relevant if you’re trying to offer your products to end consumers but makes absolutely no sense if you’re targeting businesses.

Sample User Persona Drake Motors Ltd
Image source: Flickr

When you’re marketing to a business, you have someone on the other side who’s a representative of the business but it’s the business’s needs and pains you’re targeting, not the person’s. In other words, the business is the persona. Obviously businesses don’t go out for dinner, so no sense in asking if they like pasta…

Of course, your content needs to address the person in the business who holds the decision-making power. But these decisions are always related to what’s in the interest of the business. Information to include when creating your B2B buyer persona would be:

  • Information about your persona’s industry, the company’s position in the industry, its size and revenue, etc.
  • The persona’s objectives as well as the obstacles and threats to achieving those objectives.
  • How your product can relieve the ‘pains’ related to these obstacles.
  • How they make decisions, what they value, what kind of information they are receptive to and looking for.
  • What they need to know in order to make up their mind and choose your product.

In other words, your B2B buyer persona needs to help you identify how you can help in creating a desired change for your client’s business. Once you know what you’re going for, it will be easier be convincing.

Insufficient or Made-up Buyer Persona Information

Now that we’ve agreed that you need relevant info, we need to understand how to acquire it. When working on your B2B buyer personas it is important that they represent your client’s interests and goals.

In order to avoid information which is not useful, it is best not to gather it from mere hypotheses. Going back to the definition, personas are “research-based archetypal (modelled) representations”. What kind of research are they based on?

One of the best and most reliable forms of persona research are interviews. To create a really thorough buyer persona, it’s best to have a number of different interviews. To start with, you should interview your salespeople. Some companies even go as far as hiring professionals to come up with the questions and perform the interviews.

Next, you should try to extract as much information as possible from interactions with customers. Anything you have at hand which can be analysed in relation to the questions stated above is of use. Your customers’ questions, needs, wants, concerns. Also – how they make decisions, how long it takes for them to decide, what ultimately pushes them in the right direction, etc.

Finally (or mainly, actually), interview clients! Getting long-standing, loyal customers to speak to you is not hard at all, since it will ultimately be in their favour. The more they tell you, the better your service will be.

Too Many Personas

When you segment your B2B personas according to their industries or the size of their business, you’re also running the risk of creating too many personas. It’s a balance you have to strike. Too few personas and you’ll end up missing opportunities, too many and you’ll be overwhelmed by the details and probably give up on the whole thing.

Silhouette 2
Image source: Flickr

Ideally, your buyer personas should be distinct enough, so as not to overlap in too many areas. Taken together, they should also cover the market you are ‘catering’ for. Finally, as a reality-check exercise, make sure each of your personas corresponds to a real company out in the world.

When you look at a specific persona, do you see someone you’ve done business with? If you have no idea who that person is, you might want to go back to the drawing board.

Conclusion

Once you have your personas – use them, don’t lock them up in the closet. Make sure everyone is aware of them, include them in marketing documentation, make them part of training new staff, and have your salespeople study them in-depth. Also, go back every couple of months and revise them. Since people and businesses are not static, neither should your buyer personas be. Keep them up to date.

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