For B2B content marketing campaigns to have the greatest chance of success, you need to know exactly why the companies buying from you choose your company and its products and services. You need a B2B buyer persona – preferably a few of them.
B2B buyer personas make the content marketing you produce far more relevant and personal to the decision makers you’re targeting.
This makes the likelihood of generating strong leads from potential clients much higher because, compared with B2C sales, the stakes are a lot higher on B2B purchases.
What is a B2B buyer persona?
A buyer persona is a document which describes in detail the specific type of person who has a budget and the responsibility for buying the products and services you sell for the company they own or work for.
B2B buyer personas tend to be more in-depth than B2C buyer personas because, in addition to describing the person you’re targeting, they also describe the hierarchy around them and their place within that hierarchy.
Why are buyer personas important? Why use personas in marketing at all?
Buyer personas are a way of trying to understand your target on both a professional and personal level – much like your sales reps who really get to know the person they’re pitching to increase their chances of closing the deal.
This is why we would strongly recommend that, whether you perform a content marketing campaign in-house, use an outside agency, or a mixture of both, your sales team should be heavily involved in the compilation of your buyer personas.
Buyer personas are of particular importance to any B2B content marketing campaign.
More than seven in ten companies cite the creation and use of B2B buyer personas for their external marketing campaigns result as a primary reason why they’re able to meet or exceed their revenue targets.
More Than Words note – a B2B buyer persona is sometimes referred to as a marketing persona, an audience persona, managing director based persona, business to business persona, controller buyer persona, or a customer persona. All variations of the term are interchangeable.
Most companies need to create more than one B2B buyer persona because they’re targeting different markets with each of the different products and services they sell.
In this article, we take a look at:
- what exactly a buyer persona is,
- the four key considerations you need to take into account when creating your B2B buyer personas,
- the three main reasons a business selects one company over the others,
- key questions to ask when creating your buyer personas,
- why it’s important to understand how your target client researches the products and services you sell as well as the potential suppliers they shortlist,
- what your target customers’ pain points are stopping them from purchasing your products and services
- understanding the impact that a wrong decision can have on a business and the future of the people involved in making that wrong decision.
Do your business sell to other companies? Do you want to improve the results you achieve from your marketing by understanding your target B2B buyers better?
Get in touch with our content marketing team to let them know about the businesses you sell to, the products and services you offer, and who your main competitors are.
To speak with us about creating a portfolio of B2B buyer personas with a view to creating a new or improving an existing content marketing campaign for your company, please call us on 0330 010 3495 or you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and support.
B2B buyer persona questions to ask for content marketing campaigns
On every B2B campaign, each piece of content marketing you create and distribute must try to establish the beginning of a personal relationship of trust between you and your prospective client – that’s because people buy people first.
Decision makers and influencers must feel that that your company is credible.
They must feel that the staff working for your firm are the type of people they like to deal with, especially after the sale has taken place in case there are any future problems.
Compared with consumer spending which is often driven by impulse and where a wrong decision is often quite forgotten, business purchasing is led by rationality and the expectation that a commercial need will be met by that purchase.
As we mention earlier, you’ll benefit greatly from involving your front-line sales staff in the creation of your B2B buyer personas.
That’s because they have a much better insight into the conflicting pressures decision makers face at all points of the buyer’s journey, especially when a target client is at or near the point of decision.
The more of these pressures you can address and overcome with your content marketing, the strong the leads you’ll generate and the more closeable the leads.
What makes a business invest in a product or service?
There are three main reasons why businesses buy a product or service – they purchase to:
- make more money,
- save money, and/or
- improve efficiency.
B2B buyers connect much more with a piece of written content when it feels like the person who wrote it:
- understands why they feel their company is being held back in some way and
- has a track record in helping companies create bespoke solutions for removing blockages.
It’s even more effective when your content:
- seems to anticipate the problems and challenges they might be facing and it offers solutions and
- offers new ways of thinking on successfully dealing with those problems and challenges.
6 approaches we recommend on how to create a B2B buyer persona
For the creation of a B2B buyer persona, we would recommend that you use the following six approaches.
1. Create a picture of your buyers’ life
The following are basic questions you should ask to build up a picture of your target customer, their lives, and their backgrounds.
Likely personality and qualifications
- What is their educational background?
- What age are they?
- Are they likely to be married or in a civil partnership?
- What about kids?
- What path did they take to find themselves in the role they’re in now?
- Outside of work, what are their goals and their fears?
- What are their likely hobbies and interests?
2. Describe a day in the life of your buyer
Here, we add extra layers of complexity to import further depth into your buyer persona characters.
Using these questions can help understand your customer’s pain points, desires, and considerations as a decision maker with budgetary responsibility.
Their life and experiences at work
- An in-depth description of their day to day duties at work
- What are their primary and secondary responsibilities?
- Do they enjoy those responsibilities?
- Who do they have responsibility for?
- Do they like the people (staff, suppliers, contractors, etc) they have (some degree of) authority over?
- Who are they answerable to?
- Do they get many opportunities to impress the people they’re answerable to?
- What reputation do they want among their colleagues? How are they evaluated?
- Their values and pet peeves
- Could getting this purchase right improve their pay or career prospects?
- Could getting this purchase wrong result in a loss of confidence by senior management?
- In the case of an owner making this decision, would getting it wrong threaten the viability of their company and the esteem in which their staff hold them?
- What keywords would they use to search for your product?
- What type of content is most likely to influence them at different stages of the buying cycle?
3. Understand which sources of information buyers trust and become one of them
The type of research your target audience carry out when they’re considering purchasing the products and services you sell and on the companies they shortlist for the process will be driven by the following six issues:
- How important the purchase is to the company?
- “How do I really know if a particular supplier I am interacting with really knows what they’re doing?”
- How much does it cost?
- Can the product or service be customised to meet the needs of the company?
- How long will it take from ordering the product or service to receiving it?
- Following delivery, will they be there to help me get the most out of this purchase?
The first question in particular puts a great deal of pressure on the decision makers and influencers involved in a significant and important business purchase.
The quality and efficacy of the product or service selected might have profoundly positive or negative effects on the continued smooth operation of the company.
Examples of business-critical purchases include investing in a new website, new warehousing facilities, new business processes, an IT system, or awarding a critical contract to an outside firm.
By understanding the answers to these questions, you create content which really connects with business decision makers at important and stressful parts of their careers.
Of course, yours is not the only company chasing the business.
To add maximum value to your content marketing campaigns, you should examine what your competitors are using to marketing themselves to your potential clients for inspiration.
Ask yourself the following three questions in relation to creating B2B buyer personas:
- What is my competitor doing well in their content and how can I do better?
- What have they missed out or not explained clearly enough that we can improve on?
- Can I make the language, the presentation, the tone, and the structure of my company’s materials match much closely the buyer persona?
There’s no shame or harm in taking inspiration from a competitor.
The challenge is to make sure that the content you create which has been inspired by a competitor is much better than their content and that it is 100% original.
4. The importance of addressing buyers’ pain points and challenges
When competing to win business away from a potential client’s current supplier, research can also provide a valuable insight into challenges and pain points from a prospect’s point of view.
More Than Words jargon – buyer persona pain points describe a significant problem within the operating capacity of a business which affects efficiency, profitability, or the ability to expand.
Typical pain points most B2B buyers want to overcome include:
- inefficient order fulfilment,
- higher-than-desired supplier costs,
- regulatory burdens,
- poor transmission of information between different departments and so on.
These are most common issues in businesses which have experienced growth in recent years but which have not adapted their operating processes to reflect their new size and demands on capacity.
Questions you ought to consider from a potential client’s point of view
- “Am I spending too much at the moment?”
- “Does the current system create too much unproductive work for me and my colleagues?”
- “How much of a disruption does a fault in the current’s suppliers product or service cause the business and how fast is the current supplier in remedying it?”
- “Are our customers’ favourable perceptions of the company being affected by our performance levels?”
- “Does the current system create enough opportunities for me to demonstrate to senior management or other shareholders my value?”
- For directors and shareholders, “if I take my company to market, is my use of this current system likely to devalue my business or make getting through due diligence harder?”
You can find out a lot of this information by asking your sales staff and customer support staff:
- what do prospects tell you over the phone and by email about what the outcomes they want?
- what reasons do prospects give you about why they don’t want to go ahead with a purchase?
5. Separate content for decision makers and influencers
The more complex, operation-critical, and expensive a product or service, the more people there will be involved in the decision making process.
There will likely to two types of people involved in the process:
- the actual decision makers themselves and
- influencers (on more technical products/services or on products/services which may affect the output or efficiency of a particular department like the sales team).
For senior decision makers, especially those without a solid base of knowledge in your products and services, plain English articles focusing on return on investment and ease of deployment are more effective and suitable.
Specific examples on how you have overcome similar problems with other customers will carry a lot of weight with decision makers – case studies are particularly effective.
For influencers, content should be written for them in the language they’re most likely to use.
Use well-targeted content marketing to provide clear evidence to influencers that what you’re promising is deliverable and that, when speaking with senior decision makers, they can essentially argue your case.
More Than Words tip – never underestimate how important influencers can be when producing content marketing.
Because their specialist knowledge is relied on by often less-well-informed senior management, the right content will turn influencers into your unpaid internal sales reps if they believe in the product or service you’re offering.
6. Your buyers’ future career prospects
Decision makers and influencers worry about their own future when making important B2B purchasing decisions.
The more critical the purchase, the more they have to gain or lose depending on the outcome.
Decision makers, particularly those with some form of shareholding in the business, will be more interested in the intrinsic addition of value to the business through either greater revenue production or cost savings.
If a decision goes wrong, a shareholding owner will not be held accountable for it in the way that a senior decision maker may be.
However, a shareholding owner will be concerned that a wrong purchasing decision affects:
- the overall viability of their company and
- the continued authority they have over the staff they employ.
For a senior person in the decision-making process who is a non-shareholding employee, their career progression or their continued employment with the company may be at stake.
For an influencer, they may be concerned that their influence and input on future decisions may be impaired.
Your content marketing, while not directly addressing these issues, should;
- highlight your company’s past successes and
- explain the steps you took with other clients to make sure that they got what they wanted from working with you.
How to use B2B buyer personas
When you have completed the project, sort both your existing client base and prospect database into each category of buyer persona you have identified.
To unlock value from each of your new buyer personas, you need to ask:
- which keywords, questions, and search terms do target buyers use to search for your products and services?
- which types of content is most likely to influence target buyers at different stages of the buyer’s journey?
Using those answers, you should:
- create a library of Google-optimised blogs and articles designed to be easily found by target buyers looking for specific information on your products and services,
- for high-ticket, SaaS, and business-critical products and services, create a white paper,
- improve the product descriptions/service descriptions on your website to address target buyers’ questions and concerns,
- create downloadable and shareable materials for distribution by email marketing, social media marketing, and dark social,
- contact potential decision makers directly with email marketing campaigns, and
- ensure that your content can be found on 3rd party websites and platforms respected by your target audiences.
Speak with our content distribution team about making sure that your content is visible to each of your different types of buyer.
Talk to us about B2B buyer persona development
If you’re a B2B company and want to develop your content marketing strategy by creating material specifically created for and distributed to your target buyers, please get in touch.
To speak with us about creating a portfolio of B2B buyer personas with a view to creating a new or improving an existing content marketing campaign for your company, please call us on 0330 010 3495 or click here to email our content marketing and copywriting team.