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How Buyer Personas Can Sharpen B2B Marketing

B2B marketers who develop a composite picture of the real people who buy, or might buy their products can form a bond of customer trust that most rivals can not overcome.

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Many B2B marketers have only the faintest idea what lies behind their customers’ buying decisions. They think they know, but a lot of presumption is involved.

The truth is, buying decisions are driven by emotional factors which are then justified with rational factors about the product and the price. Add to that any number of subjective factors like office politics, conflicting priorities, and you need a sharp knife to cut through it all.

That’s why the emergence of buyer personas as a marketing tool is becoming increasingly popular.

In Adele Revella’s “The Buyer Persona Manifesto,” she offers this definition of a buyer persona:

"It’s an archetype, a composite picture of the real people who buy, or might buy, products like the ones you sell."

Buyer personas are like an avatar crafted from direct interviews with as many buyers as possible. And from their behavior observed at conferences, social media, etc.

Other characters who influence the buyer’s decision-making process will emerge from this research: procurement people, bosses, rivals, etc.

It’s important to remember that this buyer persona is not necessarily your customer. The development of the persona helps you discern the difference between who you THINK your customer is versus who you real customer is. Flowing from that is a wealth of strategic insights about not only who your customer is, but also how to talk to them.

"So instead of talking at the buyer, blurting out a “me-me-me” narrative with absolutely no consideration of his real concerns, marketers can get straight to the heart of the matter."

Revella recommends that you look at buyer personas from 2 perspectives:

  1. The Core Buyer Persona – which seeks to understand the buyer in his own environment, without reference to what you might want to sell him.

  2. The Product Persona Connection – which reveals the buyers attitude about your product and company.

To develop an effective buyer persona, Revella developed The Five Rings of Insight™. The best way to gain these insights are from direct interviews by company employees, as opposed to focus groups done by outside consultants.

  1. Priority Initiatives – What three to five problems or objectives does your buyer persona dedicate time, budget and political capital? This is the centerpiece of the Core Buyer Persona. It’s not about you or your product.

  2. Success Factors – To understand the buyer’s approach to a Priority Initiative, identify what tangible or intangible rewards he or she associates with success.

  3. Perceived Barriers – What could prompt the buyer to question whether your company or solution is capable of achieving his or her Success Factors?

  4. Buying Process – What process does this persona follow in researching and selecting a solution that can overcome the Perceived Barriers and achieve the Success Factors?

  5. Decision Criteria – What aspects of each product will the buyer assess in evaluating the alternative solutions available?

Click here to download a copy of “The Buyer Persona Manifesto” or view the SlideShare deck below.

photo credit: haven't the slightest via photopin cc

Douglas Burdett
Douglas Burdett
The Principal and Founder of Artillery, Douglas Burdett is a former artillery officer and Madison Avenue ad man. He also hosts The Marketing Book Podcast, where he interviews authors every week about the latest in modern marketing and sales.

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