In their 2021 B2B Buying Study, the marketing researchers at Forester found that 63% of B2B purchases now involve four or more people. That’s a 15% jump from 2017. Their titles and roles can range from social media influencers to end users to C-level decision-makers, and more.
Understanding these “decision influencers,” and reaching each one with winning marketing strategy and persuasive content, requires you to create insightful buyer personas.
By understanding who your intended target audience is, your buyer’s journey, and what motivates them, you can create content marketing strategies and craft messages that resonate with your current and past customers. By creating a social media persona for marketing messages, you and your sales team can target customers by creating effective buyer personas and relevant content that maximizes your budget. You spend less time creating meaningless content, and more time speaking to the right people, reaching additional geographical locations.
But what all goes into buyer persona development?
In this post, we’ll cover the importance of designing detailed buyer personas and data, the key steps to creating a B2B buyer persona, and examine the different types of buyer personas that businesses can use. We’ll also go over some tips for building buyer personas, and of course, creating one using the latest and greatest tool: ChatGPT.
Why is it important to create a detailed B2B buyer persona?
Creating buyer personas—Semi-fictional representations or characters that represent your ideal customers—can help you better understand your target audience, their needs, and how to effectively market to them.
According to Ardath Albee, CEO of Marketing Interactions, inc., and renowned B2B marketing strategist, “buyer personas are the foundation of a content marketing strategy.”
71% of brands that beat their own revenue goals make use of a detailed audience persona, and those same brands are 7x more likely to prioritize regular updates of those target personas.
Why all this investment?
It helps you generate more qualified leads and close more sales by tailoring your marketing and sales efforts to speak directly to the needs and pain points of your market
Having a clear understanding of your marketing personas can also help you make informed decisions about which channels to use to reach your intended target audience, what types of content to create, and how to structure your sales process
Creating a buyer persona can help you align your marketing and sales efforts, as both teams can use the same information to understand and target the ideal customer
Anyone with a B2B brand already knows this is especially important, because the purchasing process is often more complex, and personal, and involves multiple decision-makers.
Overall, creating a B2B buyer persona is all about personalization, which is one of the most impactful ways to produce more successful content strategy outcomes for your business.
Key Components Every Buyer Persona Should Have
Creating a B2B buyer persona is a process that involves deep research. If you are developing personas based on intuition, you’re leaving a lot on the table.
90% of brands that make use of detailed personas report a significant improvement in their understanding of their target audience.
You may think you already know your customers, and you’ve probably got a good hold on some of the demographic variables, but if you want to break through, you have to reach all of them.
To develop a B2B marketing buyer persona, you’ll need to gather real information about your target market through research, interviews, and digital sources, and lay it all out so you can analyze it. Some of the key pieces of information that you should include in your persona are:
Demographic variables—This includes age, gender, job titles, and other details that can help you understand your audience.
Psychographic information—Past the job title, the data you can use to understand people’s attitudes, values, lifestyles, and personality traits.
A first-person story—Creating a detailed description of a typical day in the life of your buyer persona can help you understand what they care about, what they do, and how they interact with the world around them.
Goals and challenges—Focus on the main goals and challenges facing your audience. What are they trying to achieve and what obstacles are they facing?
Decision-making process—How does your target market make purchasing decisions? Who is involved in the process and what factors do they consider?
Language—Use the keywords or phrases your buyer persona uses when searching for or discussing products or services.
Communication preferences—How your audience prefers to receive information. Do they prefer email, phone calls, or in-person meetings? Which blogs or social media do they follow?
Engagement scenarios—What are the specific situations or triggers that might prompt your buyer persona to engage with your business or products?
Objections and concerns—What objections or concerns might your demographic have about your product or service? How can you address these objections and concerns?
By creating detailed marketing personas and buyer personas backed by data, you’ll be able to effectively target your marketing campaign and create more personalized and effective messaging.
How many types of B2B buyer personas should you have?
Depending on your business goals and target audience, there are a few different kinds of B2B marketing personas you can create to help give you direction.
Here are the three main kinds of b2b buyer personas:
This persona represents the person in your target organization who has the authority to make purchasing decisions. For example, a CEO, CFO, or other high-level executives.
This persona represents the person who will actually be using your product or service on a daily basis. This could be an employee or a team of employees.
This persona represents the person who has influence over the decision-maker but may not have the final say on purchasing decisions. This could be a department head, team leader, or subject matter expert.
It’s generally a good idea to have multiple personas for your B2B marketing efforts: one each of the above. This will help you to create targeted, relevant marketing campaigns that speak to each of these different roles.
For example, if you are selling project management software to large enterprises, your personas might include a CEO decision-maker buyer persona, a project manager persona, and a department head influencer persona.
Each of these personas would have different goals, priorities, and pain points, and your marketing efforts would need to be tailored to address these differences.
Too many personas could muddy the waters. If you have too few personas you could be missing an ideal buyer.
Make data the foundation of an effective buyer persona
Data is everywhere. Extracting and understanding it is the challenge.
It can be easy to breeze past the research and just use the information in your head. But, only by analyzing actual data about your potential customers, you can create a detailed and accurate representation of what they are looking for.
This can give you more than a few ideas of how to tailor your marketing and sales efforts more effectively to target your messaging to the right customers at the right time.
To get the right level of personalization for your buyer personas you need data. I can’t stress this enough. 99% of marketers agree, and 80% of consumers tend to buy when they are marketed to with content that feels customized.
It can feel redundant at times, especially when the research tells you a lot of what you already know, but even the smallest new nuggets of information can change the direction of your business.
Here are some ways data improves your buyer personas:
- Understand your target buyers
- Create a detailed and accurate representation of your buyers or potential customers
- Tailor marketing and sales efforts effectively
- Identify trends and patterns in your customer’s behavior
- Anticipate needs and preferences
- Make informed decisions about how to best reach and engage your audience
Can you create a buyer persona without data? Sure. Will it help you? Probably not as much as it would with the facts.
How do you get the right customer data to build detailed personas?
You want both quantitative and qualitative data to create an accurate audience persona. If you don’t have this level of deep understanding, the marketing materials, anything from a blog post to a targeting messaging campaign, might not make sense to the end user represented by the buyer persona.
There are several practical methods to gather the raw data needed to build detailed B2B marketing personas. Here are some options:
Harness your Analytics
Quantitative data from Google Analytics and other relevant search engines, social media analytics, conversion rates, and other marketing tools help you to understand how your target audience interacts with your brand online.
This can provide your buyer personas with valuable insights into their behaviors, interests, and pain points.
Study your Segmentation
Use segmentation to group your audience into smaller, more specific categories based on common characteristics so you can create more targeted marketing campaigns and understand the unique needs of each segment within your buyer personas.
Mine your CRM
Your customer relationship management system can be a treasure trove of data about your customers and prospects.
Use this data to understand their demographics, behavior patterns, and needs.
Start a Social Listening Strategy
Invest in social listening tools like Hubspot or Constant Contact, so you can track and analyze mentions of your brand and industry online and on all social media channels.
This way, you can add useful information about the sentiment and opinions of each customer segment and buying cycle stage to your buyer personas.
Conduct surveys to gather direct feedback from your audience about their needs, challenges, and preferences.
Old-School Market Research
Use market research methods, such as focus groups and interviews, to gather in-depth insights into your target market.
Conduct interviews with existing customers, prospects, your own employees, and industry experts to gather insights into your target audience’s needs, challenges, and decision-making processes.
By using a combination of these techniques, you can gather a wealth of data about your customers that can be used to create detailed and accurate B2B buyer personas.
7 Proven Steps to create an effective B2B buyer persona
Don’t let the headline fool you–even though there are just a few steps, creating buyer personas and getting into the heads of your customers isn’t an overnight project.
Make sure you, your marketing department, and your marketing teams spend enough time on each step and remember: a buyer persona needs to be maintained on a regular basis.
Step 1: Define your target market
The first step in creating a winning B2B social media persona is to define the right buyers.
To do that, you have to research and gather data about the demographics, pain points, and goals of your ideal customer. With this insight, you can create a primary persona that accurately reflects their needs and motivations.
To gather this data, you can use a variety of methods, including surveying current customers, analyzing web traffic data, and conducting market research.
Step 2: Understand your brand values
You already should have a solid foundation here but remember your social media persona should align with your overall brand stories, values, and messaging.
Step 3: Determine your tone and voice
Once you know your target consumer and brand values, you can start to define your tone and voice for each. Your tone should be consistent with your brand values, but it should also be appropriate for your audience.
For example, if you’re targeting a corporate audience, you might want to use a more formal tone, while a younger, more casual audience might respond better to a more laid-back voice.
Some things to consider when determining your tone and voice include:
Industry norms–What is the tone and voice commonly used in your industry?
Target audience--What tone and voice will resonate with your audience?
Brand values–How can you convey your brand values through your tone and voice?
Step 4: Establish guidelines
Once you’ve defined your tone and voice, it’s important to establish guidelines to ensure that all of your social media content is consistent with your brand personality.
A few things to consider:
A list of words and phrases to use and avoid
Rules for punctuation and capitalization
Guidelines for when to use certain tones and voices
Step 5: Create a content calendar
To ensure that you’re consistently posting high-quality content, you need to create a content calendar. This will allow you to plan out your posts in advance and ensure that you’re posting at the right frequency for your audience.
Step 6: Engage with your audience
Your social media persona isn’t just about what you post, it’s also about how you engage with your audience. Take the time to respond to comments and messages, and don’t be afraid to show your personality.
If you want to establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry, this is a must.
When engaging with your audience, consider the following:
Be timely—Respond to comments and messages as soon as possible.
Be authentic—Show your personality and don’t be afraid to share your opinions.
Be helpful—Look for opportunities to help your followers and provide value.
Step 7: Monitor and adjust marketing efforts
Finally, it’s important to monitor your social media presence and content marketing efforts, and make adjustments as needed.
Think about testing different tones and voices to see what resonates with your audience, or adjusting your content calendar to better meet the needs of your followers.
You can identify what’s working and what’s not, and make the necessary adjustments to improve your results simply by regularly monitoring your social media efforts.
Bonus Tip: How To Build buyer personas with ChatGPT
There are a number of buyer persona templates, but if you want to save time try an Ai tool such as ChatGPT by Openai. It is a great way to do the heavy lifting.
ChatGPT is a new language-based AI tool that can help you build detailed buyer personas. It uses machine learning and language models to analyze large amounts of data and create profiles of your customers for you via prompts. It’s not perfect, and in no way should it be copied and pasted into a website but whether you’re a small business owner or work for a marketing agency, it can save time by letting you focus on the quantitative data gathering instead of the writing.
To use ChatGPT for buyer persona development, you’ll need to provide the tool with the data we talked about above such as a fictitious name, demographic information, biggest pain points, and goals in the form of a “prompt”. The tool will then analyze this data and create a detailed persona that reflects the needs and motivations of your audience.
Here is how:
Start with gathering some general data on your target audience:
Demographics: Age, gender, education level, income, and occupation.
Pain points: What challenges and problems does your ideal customer face that your product or service can solve?
Goals: What are the specific business goals or objectives that your ideal customer expects to achieve through using your product or service?
Purchasing behavior: How does your ideal customer research and make purchasing decisions?
Preferences to communicate: How does your ideal customer prefer to communicate about your offering? Email, social media, text, etc?
Personal values: What matters most to your ideal customer? what are their lifestyle choices does your ideal customer have that align with your brand?
Brand loyalty: Does your ideal buyer have a preference for a specific brand or are they open to trying new products and services?
Buyer’s journey: What is the customer journey for your ideal customer? What touchpoints do they have with your brand before, during, and after purchase?
Here are some example prompts for Chat GPT to get you started:
create a buyer persona: for a woman named jane who lives in the united states, is busy running a successful b2b business, and wants to reach decision makers to generate leads through social media for her target audience who is loyal to Coca-Cola. Jane is looking for a b2b social media agency to grow her business.
Just remember: you will need to fact-check and edit the work as the tool is only trained in language, not accuracy.
Key Takeaways: Buyer personas are foundational for any marketing strategy
By creating personas, you’ll be able to craft targeted messaging and content creation that speaks directly to your customers and improves your marketing campaign’s chances of success. Follow these steps, and you’ll have a solid launch pad to streamline your buying process and increase conversions no matter the company size.