We recently published Precision Demand Marketing: Achieving the Promise of Predictable Pipeline, a book that transforms the B2B marketing paradigm. This week's installment provides a glimpse into Chapter Two: “Hitting the Target.” Check out a blog recap of Chapter One here.
Why is it important to know your buyers?
The classic game “20 Questions” is often used as an icebreaker. The rules are simple. You have at least two players, one asks a question, and another player answers. The main goal of the game isn’t about answering the questions – rather it’s about the exchange of information and the chance for people to get to know each other better.
Putting this into a B2B marketing context, we as marketers need to play our own version of 20 questions to really get to know our buyers. A deep understanding of our buyers is the foundation of precision demand marketing (PDM). The goal of PDM is to deliver the right message, on the right channel, at the right time, to the right buyer. None of this can happen unless we truly understand our buyers.
So, What is Your Buyer’s Persona?
B2B marketers learn about their buyers through the concept of personas. Personas are specific individuals, characterized by a job role, that make or influence the decision to purchase an offering. We collect persona information to create persona profiles and use that information to connect with key personas at target accounts. In addition to personas, marketers must also adopt the concept of a buying group, which is the collection of personas involved in the process to purchase an offering.
Within a buying group, the personas we target all have different roles to play. Here are 5 buying roles to look out for in the purchase process:
- The Champions - the key advocates for the purchase of the offering
- The Influencers - personas inside the buying organization who have sway over the purchase decision
- The Decision Makers - personas who make the final selection
- The Users - individuals or groups whose daily activities are affected by the purchase of the offering
- The Ratifiers - typically personas in IT, finance, legal, and procurement who manage the terms, conditions, and pricing with vendors
Understanding our buyers starts with building good persona profiles and then learning the roles they play within the buying group. No B2B marketing organization is going to have the resources to deeply know every single persona involved in a buying group; the trick is to really understand your buying champions and influencers and arm them to advocate for the purchase of your solution to the decision makers, users, and ratifiers within their organization. This is one of the key elements of marketing with precision and lays the groundwork for building a better experience for your buyers.
Getting to (Really) Know Them
Once you have a handle on your key personas and their role in the purchase process, here are 4 questions to ask to really understand your buyer:
- Does our buyer change by audience segment? Are you targeting different personas based on company business unit, product offerings or buying use cases? Do buyer personas change by target market (e.g., region, country, industry, or company size)? Are the personas different if you are selling into a net new opportunity or upselling into an existing account?
- Why is our buyer in the market for a solution? What initiatives or programs are they working on? What are their challenges or opportunities? What are they trying to accomplish? What is driving the decision? How do they talk about or search for information related to their problem or desired solution?
- What content and interaction preferences do our buyers have? What kind of information are they looking for? What are their preferred formats? How do they like to receive information (e.g., favorite channels)?
- What are our buyers' trusted sources for purchase information? What influences their purchase decision making? Do they listen to analysts, read certain publications, or listen to thought leaders? Do they use their network for purchase recommendations? What physical or virtual communities do they participate in to collect information?
Messaging with Precision
Once you have gotten to know your buyers better, it becomes much easier to deliver the right messages to them. Think about the content and offers that you deliver to your buyers. Does the content resonate with them? Does it address their business needs? Does it “speak” their language? Will your offers help progress a buyer to the next stage of the buyers’ journey or help an existing customer move further along the customer life cycle?
If the answer is no, then it’s time to do additional buyer persona research to understand the information that matters to your buyers. You want to deliver content that addresses the questions that buyers have as they navigate a purchase cycle. Not deliver a bunch of solution offering “selfies” that just tout the features and functionality that your company offers. Asking these kinds of questions and applying the knowledge you learn about your buyers is going to dramatically improve B2B marketing’s success rate and build credibility with your audience. This is the work that builds precision within marketing.
If you are ready to start learning more about your buyers, get your complimentary copy of Precision Demand Marketing: Achieving the Promise of Predictable Pipeline and start in on chapter two: “Hitting the Target.” The book contains great tools and frameworks to help you better define your key personas and begin the process of mapping their role in the buying process. We also invite you to take our online Marketing Maturity Assessment to score your organization’s marketing strategy, org structure and marketing technology as you start your adoption of the precision demand marketing approach. It's a great way for you to figure out where you are on the Precision Demand Marketing Maturity Curve today and figure out how to take the next steps in growing your marketing practice.