Buyer Personas

In B2B the buzzword of 2017 is without a doubt account-based marketing. In the last couple of years, it was all about inbound marketing. Does this mean we are shifting from inbound to account-based marketing and bin those carefully built buyer personas?

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According to Adele Revella, author of the book Buyer Personas, marketing surveys have indicated that, within the next couple of years, at least 80 percent of all marketers will be using buyer personas to define their audiences and guide business strategies. Being a B2B marketing strategist myself, I am excited to speak to Adele.

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Imagine you are in one of the following three situations, what do you do?
You are in Europe and your colleagues from the US Head Quarters or Corporate have given you a buyer persona to work with; what to do?

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The customer should play a central role in every B2B marketing strategy. If your strategy is to be a success, then you must understand the buyer. A lot of B2B marketers are struggling with questions like: how and where does my buyer search for and consume information? What issues and trends does the buyer find important?

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There is a lot of hype at the moment in B2B around developing buyer personas. This is actually a good thing. We are increasingly aware that B2B marketing can only be successful when we know our buyer well, so that we can connect marketing activities to specific buyer/customer needs.

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“We actually turned our marketing upside down” says Marije Gould, Vice President Marketing EMEA for Verint Systems. She explains that in the past year they chose a completely different approach to their B2B marketing. And it worked.

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More and more, B2B companies want more insight in their target buyers. A customer profile (buyer persona) is made before marketing plans are developed. So far so good. Building a buyer’s profile however might sound easy but it isn’t always as easy as it seems. A buyer persona is a fundamental step though.

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It’s not always easy to understand the buyer and customer, especially for B2B Marketers. “Why is someone (not) interested in my product or service? How to I engage with my target audience? How do I align my marketing strategy with the buyer? And how do I provide an optimal yield and engagement with my marketing choices?

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Each buyer is unique. However, we do not always have the opportunity and the resources to approach each buyer individually. So, we listen to the buyers and we try to find common denominators so we can tailor our marketing message. The crazy thing is that we have been marketing for years without a solid idea about our buyer, particularly in business-to-business.

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To really know your buyer, you should regularly talk to him. Marketers often confuse talking to buyers with talking to existing customers. Sure, that is important too but it is much more relevant to understand why a potential customer walked away or why a prospect has never heard of you. This article outlines several tips on how best to interview your buyers to ensure your know their profile and their buying cycle.

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