Why do b2b marketers need to go much deeper to understand their customers? Making the case for expanded Buyer Personas.

Nick Taylor 15th November 2021 Brand Comms, Customer Experience, Integrated Marketing, Understanding Customers

 

Answering this question is where Velo, and any self respecting marketing professional should, start with all clients.  

When was the last time you read a blog, an article, a social media post, watched a video or listened to a podcast and thought – wow that really spoke to me?

It wasn’t just a case of clever copy or some magical nuero-linguistic programming. Whoever created it, has profiled the type of person they really want to communicate with and made sure they spoke to your issues, concerns, problems, challenges, aspirations and more.

This is what understanding your ideal and actual customer is all about.

It’s much more than saying specifiers in property management companies or engineering directors in manufacturers.

That’s because the default position in b2b marketing is to talk en masse, using over-stretched stereotypes and generic assumptions, keeping your sales and marketing deliberately broad. But when you talk to everyone, you end up talking to no-one because it falls short of the mark being either too broad or even too niche.

The best way to secure your next amazing contract wins is to model them, understand what makes them tick and talk to them one-to-one on a more human level.

When that content you just recalled resonated with you, it’s because it was created intimately to do just that. It focused on one critical central theme and went to a place where it resonated deep within you.

Follow this step process to begin to identify, understand and prioritise your marketing efforts in developing more of the right kind of business you want to win.

 

Before you seek to create detailed personas

Just before you do, we’re going to assume that you already completed two steps in establishing your priorities:

  1. Reviewed your historical sales to understand who is buying what, where the margins are where growth and similar opportunities could be leveraged.
  2. Gained a good understanding of the profile of organisation you want to work with (size, location, likely use and spend, credit record, ability to approach) and have created a wishlist for your business development teams to work proactively with.

If not, complete these steps first before proceeding because understanding the people you need to influence means going deeper into their motivations and decision making.

 

Understanding the composition of buying units

It’s critical to understand all the players involved in making decisions and what matters to them. 

A buyer Decision Making Unit (DMU) is a collection or team of individuals who participate in a buyer decision process. Generally, a DMU relates to business or organisational buying decisions rather than to those of, for example, a family.

DMUs commonly include people who may have an influence on buying, may have specifying responsibility, may use the product/service, and of course those ultimately sanctioning the purchase.

Start out by mapping out all the different people – by role and responsibility – who may have a decision making, influencing or using impact on any buying decision. 

This might mean understanding how they are structured and who from C-suite, Finance, Technical, R&D, HR, Sales and Marketing functions might be involved and might have a say in a change of supplier. 

Understanding the benefits you can bring to each gives you a stronger opportunity to convince a would-be customer to switch from a current provider over to you. 

 

Create personas for each

Create profiles that can be extended across a market to effect better marketing communications to drive client attraction and retention

Practice applying this critical thinking to drive deeper understanding of your own clients

Build a comprehensive persona profile for each key protagonist you need to win over that by answering the following questions:

 

Who are they?

  • Company
  • Company size
  • Company ownership
  • Job title and function
  • Reporting line

 

What is their role and responsibility in detail?

  • What is their primary purpose?
  • What are their biggest challenges (pains) in role?
  • What are their biggest gains (results) they are looking for in role?

 

How do they make decisions?

  • Do they plan or act intuitively?
  • What is their attitude to risk?
  • How proactive are they?
  • What do they read, watch? 
  • Who else do they pay attention to?

 

What is their involvement in decision making?

  • Are they buyer, decision maker, initiator, specifier, influencer or user?
  • What problems do they see with current supply?
  • What objections might they have to switching?

 

Once you have a strong picture of what drives and motivates your primary target customers, you can design marketing communications in the same way as that piece that got your attention when we asked you. 

Content that moves beyond selling. Content that moves beyond even being consultative. We’re all moving into a space of being generally more helpful – acting as a guide for customers, showing them the way to achieve the transformation they seek most. 

 

How clear is your thinking when it comes to understanding your key customers? Is your marketing communications speaking to them in a way that is going to support your positioning?

 

If your content isn’t hitting the mark, you might need an intervention. Check out our approach to insight led planning here or book a discovery call to talk about content strategy here.

 

Nick Taylor

Nick Taylor

Client Services Director