Learning Hub | Digital Marketing Basics
How to Develop B2B Buyer Personas for Your Business
February 7, 2015 | Jon Teodoro
Discovering your business’ B2C buyer persona is akin to fishing for that big catch. To reel one in, fishermen have to consider a litany of factors like ocean depth, weather, types of bait, predator trends, and water temperature. To that end, searching for freshwater pike in the Atlantic is a terrible idea; like rolling out a line of winter coats in southern California based on poor B2C marketing.
On the other hand, managing to develop B2B buyer personas and converting them into customers is even more difficult task to nail down. They can be more elusive than the giant squid. Bring a bigger boat and some extra reels because let’s put it this way: Entrepreneurial minds aren’t so quick to bite.
When collaborating on a product or marketing campaign, businesses – above anything else – need to align with each other on multiple levels. While a B2B buyer persona may be comprised of some elements inherent to a B2C buyer persona, businesses need to think about the decisionmakers. With the interests of an entire organization rather than personal needs at heart, these people tend to be executives who, in addition to being hard sells, may also be speaking with your competitors.
But it’s important to remember that decisionmakers are people, too. They have human needs, professional ambitions, and habits. Here are two examples:
PERSONA 1 | Academic artist
The curator of a revered art gallery surrounds her pieces with fantastic interior design and architecture. She often hosts events for upper crust society and used to be a professor at the nearby Ivy League university. However, her computer literacy and web presence is limited to contact information on the gallery’s basic website and a couple event posts on Facebook.
Possible B2B application // A web marketing and development agency that has:
- A strong design team to digitize the curator’s gallery and make it as visually striking as possible
- A social media team that can provoke thought and interaction about art online
- The gallery’s B2C in mind with copy/content that is tailored toward high society
- A copywriter who can affect a similarly academic style that blends a profound understanding of art with creative prose…that is if the curator doesn’t have enough time to write her own material
The two businesses complement each other. Given her extensive academic and artistic background, the curator may have the creative basics on what she wants her site to look like, but without the means and tech savvy to piece together the fundamental elements of web development, she will need outside help.
For the agency, they have the tools, but the challenge for it lies in convincing a potential client – one who is entrepreneurially adept and well-respected – that it is the best, most competent fit. A good way for the agency to prepare itself for the first consultation with the curator is asking some of the following questions:
- Where does she get her information? If she peruses art magazines chances are that she’ll enjoy copywriting that is similar to the writing style in those magazines.
- What ideas does she have for the future of the gallery? The agency should consider a more adaptable content management system for the sake of potential major overhauls and additions to the website (i.e. if the curator wants to launch a marketing campaign for a new exhibit)
- Who else is employed to the art gallery and how is it run? If the curator has some art history majors running around for internship credit, the agency can probably indirectly delegate some web maintenance tasks to them through her. If not, the agency can determine how much of a role it will play for the gallery as well as other companies that may need additional assistance
PERSONA 2 | Country club exec
Living on the golf course with a big, oily cigar in hand and a tumbler of whiskey and ice cubes in the other, the country club exec works by muttering a few decisive sentences into a cellphone held by his assistant. Under his leadership as the CEO, the exec’s multimedia communications company is in the Fortune 500 – nearly five decades since he started washing dishes. His charisma and sales acumen drove his rise to success, rendering the absence of a high school degree essentially negligible. He’s happily married and nearing retirement. His employees, however, are asking for an upgrade in insurance benefits.
Possible B2B application // Fortune 500 insurance companies that have:
- An easy to understand body of policies
- A no B.S. sales tactic…takes a salesman (the charismatic exec) to know a salesman (the insurance company’s representative)
- An array of programs available to inform employees of their new policy so the exec’s company doesn’t need to do any extra legwork
Assuming that he wants the best for his employees, the exec will go for just that: the best. Although he may be in the upper class, the exec recognizes the merit of hard work from his humble origins and wants to reward his employees to that end. At the same time, his time is valuably spent wining, dining, and teeing off with clients. While his employees’ insurance is important, he wants to spend as little time on the manner as he can, placing most of the burden and expectation on the insurance company he chooses.
For the insurance companies, his patronage depends on how he compares them to their competitors. They’ll want to ask themselves the following:
- What is the exec’s brand of leadership? While his country club days may outnumber his office days, the exec’s career started in the back of a kitchen. Recognizing that and avoiding the temptation to take a more upper class disposition toward the rank and file can make or break a business deal that’s negotiated in person.
- Does the exec prioritize revenue over product quality? Communications companies are constantly under fire for implementing corporate policies that undermine consumer comforts like bandwidth allocation and channel subscriptions. This might clue a prospective insurance company into how much investment the exec is willing to make on behalf of his employees (let’s assume he has their interests as the top priority).
- Does the exec prefer meeting casually or professionally? A golf course is also an executive boardroom. The rules of etiquette are different and the social dynamic is usually much more relaxed. That said, it would be wise for an insurance company to send its best golfer. The happier time the exec will have golfing, the happier the exec will be to sign a contract. Ideally.
As a body of leadership style, professional goals and attitudes, personal information, and information gathering habits, the B2B buyer persona is ultimately a prospective company’s demographic sweet spot. Without creating one, a company will find itself without a reel in an ocean that’s teeming with fish that it has yet to identify.