I recently interviewed Ingrid Archer, Director of Clients Strategy & Success at SPOTONVISION, to gather her thoughts on why buyer personas are crucial for developing high-performing campaigns. Ingrid’s work includes developing buyer persona profiles and journeys, in fact, during the 17 years of SPOTONVISION, she has interviewed more than 500 professional buyers!
To start, can you explain what a buyer persona is and why it’s important?
“A buyer persona is a detailed profile of a typical buyer who represents part of a target audience. With a buyer persona, marketing and communications are able to accurately tailor a message to the target audience. Only when you really know your buyer will you be able to make the right decision on how to invest your marketing budget, what content to create, how to promote that content and what channels to use. It makes you more confident as a marketer to make and justify choices.”
“Organizations often state that they know their buyers, but do they? For example, do you know what keeps your target audience awake, what topics they are interested in and through which channels they are consuming content? Internal information from sales is very valuable and certainly part of your buyer persona research, but not enough. Using data from the internet or AI tools can help as well, but it will not be enough.
It is important that you start a real-life conversation with your buyers and use all that information to create a good buyer persona. Choose interviews for real insights, not algorithms!”
What is tricky about creating personas?
“Many marketers find it difficult to figure out which buyer group to create a buyer persona from. Or you believe that you can create a valuable persona using online tooling or AI. It’s like painting with numbers! Opt for interviews, understand the journey, meet the person behind the persona.”
How to create them in B2B, and where to start?
“Define for which product or service you need better insights. Then start with your customer database, or ideal customer profile, and identify with whom you prefer to do business. Often you have multiple types of buyers and decision-makers within a company. Start with the most important and influential people. Start small. After all, you can create ten buyer personas but remember that you need to create specific content for each buyer persona as well. That is often difficult to organize when you have a lot of them.”
What is the biggest challenge in the beginning?
“A big challenge is letting go of the image of your buyer you often already have in your head. To create a good persona and buyer journey, you must let go of this. It is important that you conduct the interviews without bias and then analyse the data. You should never assume you already know the answer to the question or fill in the question for your buyer. Also, ask questions thoroughly during conversations. For example, when someone says they read newsletters while searching for solutions, ask for the names of those newsletters.
While interviewing and analysing the data, it is difficult to process the vast amount of information. Luckily AI can help you with the analysis. That way you are able to uncover patterns faster.”
When will you know if you’ve created a good buyer persona and buyer journey?
“Implementing buyer personas means that you need to look again at your messaging, content and ways of campaigning. You will have to adjust your ways of marketing and sales to your buyer persona insights. Only when you start using your newly created content in your new campaigns, you will find out whether you did a good job. When marketing and sales content resonates with your target audience, you know that you did your groundwork well. The best confirmation is when you win more opportunities, leading to better deals.”
What else is important when crafting a persona?
“It is important that everyone in an organization understands their buyer personas. Therefore, always involve other customer-facing teams. You can organize a meeting with Sales to introduce the buyer persona. Give the persona a name and bring him to life, for example, ‘This is Dennis. Dennis is a married man in his 50s and has two children.’ It’s great if they recognize the buyer, but it’s also possible that new insights have emerged. The more specific the profile and the journey, the better you can respond to your buyer’s needs.”
“Depending on how much content you create, you can easily spend a year fine-tuning your marketing activities based on the buyer persona. After a while, you notice that you can nurture leads better. A buyer persona requires maintenance as the market, information needs and challenges can change over time. So, it is important to keep collecting insights.”
What tips do you have for marketers starting with buyer personas?
“It’s incredibly interesting to have a conversation with your buyer. Try to enjoy it!”
- An online buyer persona template filled out for you with a standard buyer profile will not do the trick, you need the real-life conversation
- Silences during an interview are fine, let your buyer think about the question
- Write down quotes from the buyer, and use these real quotes in your presentation
- Introduce your buyer persona within the organization
- Keep collecting insights about your buyer
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