What is a B2B buyer persona?
There are many terms for buyer persona, including customer or audience persona or avatar. Regardless of what you call it, a buyer persona is a fictional character with key demographics and characteristics, who symbolizes your target audience or ideal customer. B2B buyer personas generally represent groups of similar people who are the decision-makers or buyers in the industries you do business with. For example, a purchasing officer or an IT officer for a local government agency.
Buyer personas are used to segment your audience and craft better messaging targeted to those specific audiences, which in turn serves to increase conversions from online marketing, social and ad spend.
Learn more about the importance of developing buyer personas here.
Gather the resources that contribute to your B2B buyer persona
Collaborative brainstorming. To develop a complete and correct persona, get input from individuals from all departments that interact with your customers, such as sales, customer service and marketing.
Data. Pull demographics and behavioral data from Google Analytics, social media insights, social listening and marketing automation tools (i.e., Marketo, HubSpot, Constant Contact).
Look at your top customers. Your CRM is a rich resource for customer demographics, engagement and buying patterns.
Surveys. Get feedback from your customers and potential customers.
Testimonials. Access testimonials and reviews to understand motivations and obstacles.
Customer interactions. Your sales and customer service team have a wealth of information about who your customers are and how they behave.
Now, let’s discuss all the information you need to gather for your buyer persona.
Start with a customer profile
Your buyer persona should start with the customer profile, which describes the type of company you do business with, including its demographics, processes and pain points. Compile the following data:
- Company size
- Buying process. What steps are taken and how many decision-makers are involved in a buying decision?
- How your product/service will be used, by whom and how often
- Include drivers such as brand names, environmental considerations, low prices or tech updates
- How is success determined?
- Goals/Objectives. What leads customers to your solutions? What expectations do customers have of your products or services?
- Challenges/Obstacles. What pain points do your solutions solve? What frustrations occur during the buying process or product use? What might prevent a customer from making a decision to purchase?
Know your buyers’ demographics
A few key demographics about your B2B buyers will affect how you segment your market. These also determine the tone and complexity of your communications. Know this about your buyers:
- Title / Job responsibilities
- Years of Experience
Flesh out your buyer’s behavior
Understanding the decision-makers who are purchasing your products or services means knowing what inspires them, and where and how to reach them. This includes:
- Brand preferences
- Preferred method of contact
- Social media presence
- Informational resources (podcasts, blogs, magazines, colleague references)
Give your B2B buyer persona a name and a face
Think carefully about the name and likeness you give to your buyer persona, which helps your team envision the persona you’ve created.
Ensure the photo you use matches your persona’s demographic and is set to a likely environment. Keep it appropriate and professional. Then, match the name to the photo.
To keep your marketing strategy on target, avoid giving your personas common names like John Smith. Also don’t name your personas after a team member, client or icon, which can cause communication issues. Resist the urge to use silly names such as or Peggy Sue, which can make it difficult for your team to take the persona seriously.
Alliteration is a common tactic to provide a memorable name: Alan the Accountant, Patricia the Purchasing Officer. Another method is to choose a name that was popular during approximate year your persona would have been born.
Display your buyer persona
Assemble your persona’s information into a design that your staff can easily access and understand. If you don’t have the design tools, staff or time to make your own, a free template, such as this one from HubSpot, will help you compile your B2B buyer persona information into a sales/marketing tool that you can distribute to your teams.
Keep your buyer personas where your team can see them and use them. This may mean putting personas up on an intranet, hanging posters and distributing flyers to staff who have direct or indirect customer contact (sales, customer services, marketing).
Avoid these common errors when creating a B2B buyer persona
An inaccurate persona can confuse your messaging or increase churn. Let’s discuss how you can go wrong when you create a B2B buyer persona.
Collecting the wrong information
- Creating a B2C persona or using a B2C template. B2B personas are unlike the B2C personas because B2B buyers’ personal lives aren’t relevant. It doesn’t matter what size home your B2B buyer has, if they own or rent, the ages of their kids or what cereal brand they’re loyal to. Why? Because none of those affect their decision-making at work.
- Developing a high-level persona. If your persona is too general or way off target, you’ll lose potential and existing customers.
- Developing too few personas. One persona isn’t enough for segmenting and targeted messaging. Instead, create 3-5 personas, depending on the size and complexity of your organization and how many verticals you have (generally one per vertical).
- Developing too many personas. Don’t get into the weeds with your buyer personas. Too many personas will confuse your messaging.
Not updating your personas
If you allow your personas to become outdated, your marketing messages will lose their effectiveness. Pay attention to your evolving customer base and re-evaluate your buyer personas regularly.
Not using your persona
The worst thing you can do with your buyer persona is to never use it after you’ve created it. Unfortunately, this is commonly happening with buyer personas. Buyer personas may get discarded or ignored if your persona is inaccurate or your team isn’t sure how to use it. To prevent this from happening, follow the steps above to create a well-rounded and accurate persona. The steps below will help you put your persona to good use.
How to use your B2B buyer persona
It’s helpful to establish goals that put your buyer persona to use. Besides providing tone and direction for targeted messaging, a buyer persona is the foundation for marketing tools, such as a messaging matrix, a customer journey map and an empathy map. Here are some other ways to put your buyer persona to work:
- Define market segments
- Understand who NOT to market to
- Identify potential new marketing segments
- Create dedicated landing pages, email campaigns and targeted ads
- Campaign planning – know which tools/content to use at what phase of the buyer’s journey
B2B buyer persona shortcuts
Now that you know how to create a persona and what to do with one, it’s time to get to work. If developing a buyer persona seems like an overwhelming task, here are couple of ways you can skip the work (and still reap the benefits). Tools that can assist you in developing your B2B buyer persona, include:
- Pay for an AI tool, such as Mnemonic, which autogenerates a data-driven buyer persona from your internal data and publicly available data.
- Hire a marketing agency, like Elevation Marketing, who will interview your team, your customers, look at your data and perform market research to create your buyer persona.