Buyer personas, also called customer personas, are the first step in designing an inbound content marketing program, and can significantly help align your sales and marketing teams on whom they are marketing and selling to.
While this might seem elementary, we've worked with multiple companies to help them build their buyer personas, and for companies of all sizes, this is often a difficult task. When asked simple questions like "what triggers someone to begin searching for your product or service?" or "what are the reasons someone might not purchase from you?" we often hear a mix of answers, and some honest responses of, " I'm not exactly sure.”
If you're new to inbound marketing and want to learn more about this approach to marketing before diving into customer personas, you can read our blog on Inbound Marketing and then come back to this one.
When you sit down to write your buyer personas you may find yourself staring blankly at the computer screen wondering where to begin. No fear! At the end of this blog, we provide you a free Beginner's Guide to Buyer Personas that also includes a Buyer Persona template. We have tried to make it so easy that you won't have an excuse to put it off.
While both B2B and B2C businesses will benefit from buyer personas, this blog focuses on questions for the B2B business to consider. If you're a B2C marketer, you'll find many relevant tips that you can apply.
When creating Buyer Personas for a B2B business, consider these questions:
Buyer Persona's Personal Info
- What are their personal demographics?
Do they skew male or female? How old are they? Do they work outside of the home? What is their annual household income? Are they married or single? Do they have children? Where do they live? What do they drive?
- What is their education background and goals?
What level of education have they completed? Are they still in school? What did they study? Do they continue to invest in professional development? If so, what types and how often?
- What is their career path?
What path has led them to their current position? Is it driven mainly by their degree or work experience? Have they moved across multiple companies? Worked in multiple industries?
Buyer Persona's Company Info
- What is the size of the company they work for- revenue and number of employees?
- In what industry is the company in? And is the industry typically an early adopter or slow to change?
Identifying commonalities in company information for your personas will help you when deciding the fields for your landing page forms.
Buyer Persona's Role
- What is their job title or role?
How long have they been in this role? Are they people managers or individual contributors?
- Who do they report to and who reports to them?
The level of importance that you place on this information is relevant to the product or service you sell.
For B2B companies, a persona’s job and seniority level are likely important. Is your persona at a specialist or director level? Are they well versed in the intricacies of your product/service? Do they manage a budget? Are they a decision maker or influencer?
- How is their performance measured?
Your persona is likely to make decisions that help them reach their performance goals. What metrics are they responsible for? Revenue? Marketing qualified leads? Profitability? Defects?
- What skills, knowledge and tools are used in their job?
How did they acquire these skills/knowledge? Through education or experience? Through certifications? What tools do they commonly use in their job?
Buyer Persona's Challenges
- What are their biggest challenges?
Your business is solving a problem for your target audience. How does this problem affect them daily? What are the nuances that illustrate how the problem makes them feel?
It’s helpful to come up with real quotes to illustrate these challenges. For example, “Our company generates a lot of leads from tradeshows and other events, but when we get back to the office we don’t have processes in place to adequately follow up with and nurture these leads which results in lost opportunities and sales.”
Buyer Persona's Goals
- What does it mean to be successful in their role?
What does it take to make your personas look good? By taking the time to understand what makes them successful, you will be more effective communicating in a way that captures their attention and engages them in further conversation.
Buyer Persona's Sources of Information
- Where do they go to find information - both personally and professionally?
By understanding where they go for information, you know where to make yourself present to attract their attention and engage with them. It’s much more effective to go to them versus convincing them to come to you.
Do they go online, prefer to learn in-person? Do they visit social networks? Which ones? Do they use Google? Which sources are most trusted by them - colleagues, friends, industry experts? Do they read blogs? Which ones? Are they members of associations?
Buyer Persona's Shopping Habits
- How do they prefer to shop?
Does your persona conduct online research before contacting a company? What do they expect to find during the self-education process? What do they expect from a sales experience? Do they want to communicate via email, phone, in-person? Do they shop by price, value, convenience, or a combination of those? How long is their typical sales cycle?
If this process feels overwhelming, not to fear! We've created this free Beginner's Guide to Buyer Personas. It will help guide you through the process and even provide a template to write your personas.