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4 Questions Answered about Buyer Personas

Are you developing buyer personas for your B2B content marketing efforts? A number of CMI contributors have tackled the topic of personas because it’s one of the most important things you can do. Those posts do a great job helping you get started, but today I want to answer some questions I frequently hear about persona development and provide you with a template.

What information should be included in a persona?

Here is the template of the persona I use that includes the following information:

  • Title
  • Time in the job
  • Works directly with
  • Daily tasks
  • Responsibilities
  • Likes/dislikes about job
  • Frustrations
  • Pressures
  • Concerns
  • Needs
  • Role in buying process
  • Buying stage
  • Drivers

To help people relate to your personas, add images and give names to your buyer profiles.  Assigning a name to the persona helps everyone on the team think of this buyer as a real person, not just a piece of business.

How many personas do I need?

In B2B, most decisions are made by committee, so you need to develop a persona for each member of the decision making process. For many organizations, this means there will be several distinct personas:

  • Initiator
  • Influencer
  • Decision-maker
  • Buyer
  • User
  • Gatekeeper

If you sell multiple products or services with different audiences, you’ll need personas for each of these.

Specific personas are needed for each of these groups because you want to engage with them differently. Different personas enter the buying process at different times, and they care about different things.

For example, a VP or C-level executive who may be the ultimate decision-maker, may not enter into the “buying process” until the very last stage. This person is likely interested in product comparisons, case studies and cost justifications. Compare this to the “initiator” who is the first person your company is likely to engage with.  This person is likely interested in non-product-specific information that explains the overall problem/solution, such as market research and eBooks.

Here are some ideas from Tom Pisello on what types of content make sense for various stages of social media.

I don’t have time to create all of these personas. What do I do?

While it’s ideal to have specific personas for every person involved in the buying process, if you have limited time or are getting started, take baby steps.

Start with two or three key personas, and work through the process. For example, if you are selling  technology, consider focusing on your end users, their managers and the IT liaison between that user group and the corporate IT group. This way, you cover “the user,” the “influencer” and the “buyer.”

Then, once you’ve nailed those core personas, move onto the peripherals such as the “gate keeper” or “influencer.” Ultimately it depends on your goals, but the important step to go through is the exercise to really get to know your buyers.

Which departments in my company should be aware of my personas?

While developing personas is primarily a marketing exercise, it’s critical you document this information for your entire company.

  • In the age of social media, anyone in your organization could engage with prospects, so you want everyone to be using the same information.
  • Personas are a great educational tool for new hires.

As a suggestion, you can host “lunch and learns” to train different groups within your organization on the buyer personas and how what you’ve learned about your buyers specifically relates to them and what they do.

Again, making your personas as personal as possible with images and names will help others in your organization relate to these people.

These are some of the questions about buyer personas I hear most frequently. What other questions do you have? Let me know in the comments below!

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