So, you've implemented a sparkly new marketing plan and you've been churning out new content and collateral. You've probably also been calling your customers something like "Developer Dan" or "Cubicle Carla." At the beginning of this journey, you likely created buyer personas which have hopefully begun to influence everything your company does to sell to clients as you work on being a true disruptor in the IoT ecosystem.
If you haven't yet put the real work into defining your buyer personas, or haven't done it at all, you should. Buyer personas define your audience, and allow you to create marketing campaigns and content that's very specifically targeted at members of your audience. Knowing the wants and needs of the person for whom you're creating content is powerful, because it makes your content compelling instead of just another drop in the Sea of Sameness in which so much content is lost.
Buyer personas take on extra importance in the IoT ecosystems, as you may already be aware: In an ecosystem that's explosively growing and broadly defined, your buyers are not necessarily who you think they are. It's a common problem, and we are here to help.
Read our 5 tips below to improve your current list of B2B IoT and SaaS buyer personas.
1. Conduct Interviews
For some companies, this may sound familiar and you could be asking, "What if I already did that?" If you are in this boat, then that's awesome! It is likely that you had time on the front-end to do the heavy lifting of conducting interviews.
But the truth is, a lot of companies don't have time in their marketing process to do this heavy lifting upfront. This initial step of the process is crucial but perhaps it is getting overlooked. You may think you know a lot about your ideal client base but some of the things you gain in interviews can be news to you. This is particularly true in the IoT and SaaS ecosystems, where many of your clients are gained because you're disrupting an industry -- and you may not know what you think you know.
And as we know, each little bit of information you are able to gather could completely revolutionize the way you market to the businesses you wish to sell to. So it is important to consider taking a step back and conducting interviews. Even if you were able to do this at the beginning of your process it could be telling to do it again or in more depth, and may even lead to disrupting your own business internally as you work on disrupting a marketing externally.
Each little bit of information you are able to gather could completely revolutionize the way you market to the businesses you wish to sell to.
Here is some information you'll want to gather about your clients during interviews:
Fears and Challenges - What are their stressors? Fears? What problems does your product solve for their business?
Motivators - What is the main objective of the company? How does our product help their objective?
Business Goals and Priorities - What are they looking to achieve? What do they need to be successful? What solutions do they desire most? Does our product offer what they are looking for?
Problems - How are they currently doing business? How can we make their job easier? What are our competitors doing right/wrong?
During this process, it is also important to interview your sales people. Ultimately, the sales team is dealing with your clients the most and they may have some insight on what has changed since you first started the persona process.
Once you have all of this information, it may be time to reevaluate the personas you previously created. Where can you edit and improve? What parts of your marketing need to change in order to reach your personas more successfully?
2. Reevaluate Personality Traits
A common tip when creating buyer personas is to focus solely on the person and their personality traits. While this is really useful for B2C marketing, it isn't as necessary for B2B. By their nature, B2C companies are very focused on the personal demographic information of their customers -- where they live, what they want in life, how they see themselves -- and B2C personas reflect that kind of information.
When you are creating your B2B specific buyer personas, though, it is more important to look at what your persona is doing as a representative for the business. In this scenario, they may have personal gains in mind but the business's needs and pains are what you are targeting.
When you are creating your B2B specific buyer personas, it is more important to look at what your persona is doing as a representative for the business.
In this way, creating B2B personas can be pretty tricky. Ultimately, the person from the business is who you are reaching initially but in this case, you may not need all of their personal preferences. Focus here instead on knowing the pain points of the business as a whole, and how that effects the representative and drives their own pain points. Doing so lets you craft marketing strategies and create content that speaks directly to your personas.
3. Look at Analytics
If you do have personas that were crafted somewhat out of thin air, you may be getting new leads but they don't fit into any specific persona you've already created. What's happening? It is important to look at the majority here. Who is your average website visitor and what are they looking at?
It is important to look at the majority here.
You can use these tools to see who is coming to the site but you can also see what they find interesting. Did they use the contact form immediately or did they peruse the blog? As your company grows and evolves, so will your personas. Continually using these tools will allow you to stay up to date on who your customers are and what they are wanting.
As you do the first three steps, you will begin to narrow down your personas more succinctly. If you began the buyer persona process in haste, you may have created too many personas with too many details. Because you are creating B2B personas, it is easy for things to get out of hand. You may be segmenting them based on size of business or type of business. When you do this, you run the risk of having way too many personas.
Balance is key in this step. If you have too few, you may be missing out on new business opportunities. If you have too many, you may become overwhelmed in all the details and give up on using the personas all together. Just remember each persona should be distinct and they shouldn't overlap too much. When you look at them all together, they should cover the market you aim to sell to. When you are done, make sure all of your personas correspond with a real customer or company you already work with. Ask yourself if you have done business with each of your personas. If you aren't seeing similarities, continue to iterate and condense.
Balance is key in this step. If you have too few, you may be missing out on new business opportunities. If you have too many, you may become overwhelmed in all the details and give up on using personas all together.
5. Continue Iterating
As you evolve as a company, so should your personas. The tech industry and B2B marketing are changing at a lightning pace so you have to make sure you're right there with it. We recommend taking a look at your personas bi-annually. This will ensure that everything is up-to-date and that your content continues to capture the leads you want. Once you get a foundation, it will become easier and easier to narrow down and improve these personas.
We hope you find this guide to creating better buyer personas helpful as you grow your business -- but keep in mind that personas are just one stage of your journey to disrupt the IoT and SaaS ecosystems. For more ideas on how to own your vertical, be sure and check out our free video and eBook,