Would you like to know which marketing content to deliver to whom and exactly when? Here's how to stop guessing about your buyer persona and know.
Picture a man and woman who have been dating for several years. The relationship and conversations have been very one-sided. The man always talks about himself and doesn’t show much interest in the woman.
That could be an analogy for how marketers have communicated with their prospects for oh, about the last 50 years. Interruptive, one-way communication that might get attention but isn't that useful or interesting for the prospect.
While that approach has sadly not stopped for a lot of marketers, prospective customers have some relief. Thanks to technology they can avoid more and more unwanted, interruptive marketing messages. And yet, many marketers still don’t grasp what’s going on.
This 2007 video from Microsoft brilliantly portrays this changing relationship.
Nowadays, prospective customers don’t have to put up with that one-way communication. Also, customers now prefer to do their own research before making a major purchase.
So how does a marketer appeal to their prospective customers if they can’t interrupt them with traditional methods like advertising, cold calling, direct mail and email spam?
With content. Useful, helpful and relevant content.
Easier said than done. A lot of companies understand that they need to create content for their prospective customers, but they still can’t resist the urge to talk about themselves. I call it “weeing” all over themselves. We this. We that. Our product this. Our people that. (You know who they are.)
Back to being useful, helpful and relevant. Step 1: stop talking about yourself like the guy in that video. Step 2: focus on your buyers.
This is why and how buyer personas have become so important in modern B2B marketing.
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."
However, when researching your buyer personas, it’s easy to become distracted by interesting but irrelevant facts about your buyers (e.g. hobbies, favorite TV shows, music preferences, etc.)
To help separate the signal from the noise of buyer persona research, Revella recommends focusing on “The Five Rings of Insight™.” These are the five things that will determine if you have buyer personas that will positively impact your content creation, lead generation and sales.
- Priority Initiatives – “What causes certain buyers to invest in a solution like yours, and how are they different from buyers who remain attached to the status quo?” What three to five problems or objectives does your buyer persona dedicate time, budget and political capital? It’s not about you or your product.
- Success Factors – “What operational or personal results does your buyer persona expect from purchasing this solution?" To understand the buyer’s approach to a Priority Initiative, identify what tangible or intangible rewards he or she associates with success.
- Perceived Barriers – “What concerns cause your buyer to believe that your solution or company is not their best option?” What could prompt the buyer to question whether your company or solution is capable of achieving his or her Success Factors?
- The Buyer’s Journey – “…reveals the behind-the-scenes story at each phase of the evaluation.” What process does this persona follow in researching and selecting a solution that can overcome the Perceived Barriers and achieve the Success Factors?
- Decision Criteria – “Which aspects of the competing offerings do your buyers perceive as most critical, and what do they expect from each one?” What aspects of each product will the buyer assess in evaluating the alternative solutions available?
Armed with these five insights, Revella explains that your buyer personas will “reveal the buying decision you need to influence – telling how when and why the buyer engages to choose you or a competitor, or to stick with the status quo.”
To download an ebook on “The Five Rings of Insight™” as well as other helpful information from the Buyer Persona Institute, click here.
photo credit: evaingesl via photopin cc // ring graphic: Buyer Persona Institute