Buyer persona in B2B marketing - definition, advantages and criteria
The buyer persona should be at the beginning of every marketing strategy and accompany marketers in all communication measures for their company. In this blog you will learn exactly what a buyer persona is, how a persona is created and what advantages it offers.
The Buyer Persona - What is it?
In marketing, a buyer persona is a fictional person who is part of a company's desired target group. The buyer persona therefore represents a typical customer. Both explicit properties (age, gender, occupation, ...) and implicit properties (behavior, motivation, ...) are brought together in the buyer-persona concept.
This fictional person should be based on both careful market research and real customer data and information. In addition, the buyer persona should ideally be developed in cooperation with departments with direct customer contact in order to benefit from the experiences of colleagues.
Target group vs. buyer persona: what's the difference?
The term “target group” includes all people who want to reach companies with their products and services. This is a subset of the overall market, which is often delimited, for example, on the basis of socio-demographic characteristics, purchase decisions or media usage patterns. The number of potential customers is limited, but individual differences and details are not taken into account.
This is where the buyer persona comes into play, because it is much more detailed and also includes the goals, wishes, problems and challenges of the customers. This is how the buyer persona gives your target group a face. You can use this in marketing to address your desired customers even more specifically.
Why is a buyer persona important?
Buyer Personas makes customer-centric thinking easier. You should therefore be at the beginning of every marketing strategy. This ensures that all measures are aimed specifically at the ideal customers. This is very helpful in many areas: from creating a website to designing a trade fair appearance to creating content.
Among others, these four important reasons speak in favor of buyer personas:
You no longer design or write your content for anyone, but always have the buyer persona in mind. This makes it possible to create target group-specific content and to increase the overall efficiency of marketing.
Your potential customers feel understood by you and your company because you know their problems, wishes and needs. That strengthens customer loyalty.
Thanks to the Buyer Persona, you can plan the marketing budget in a much more targeted manner, because you know, for example, which channels you can use to reach your desired customers and where not.
The buyer persona can help the marketing team to be more efficient because it makes the target group tangible for everyone. This can also have a positive effect on the cooperation between sales and marketing.
The buyer persona in B2B
In B2B marketing in particular, the target group definition is often not very clear and difficult to grasp. The first thing to do is to get an idea of the desired target companies in order to see which companies will suit your company as customers. For example, criteria such as industry, company size or business model play a role here. Once the ideal companies have been identified, the buyer personas are the next step. In B2B, marketers face a particular challenge here, as in most cases they have to deal with different people who are involved in the purchase decision - the buying center.
Within the buying center in the B2B industry, we usually have to deal with the following roles:
Initiator: The initiator determines the need in the company and gives the impetus for the purchase process.
Gatekeeper: The gatekeeper selects information and decides which information is passed on to those involved.
User: The user or user will use the corresponding product or service in their everyday work in the future.
Buyer: The buyer takes care of the organizational processes in the purchasing process. He/she gets offers, draws up sales contracts, negotiates and more.
Decision maker: The decision maker is usually a member of the upper management level and ultimately makes the final purchase decision.
Influencer: Experts in various relevant areas can act as influencers.
All of these people influence the buying process and thus also the final purchase decision and should therefore be identified by a persona. In B2B marketing, in most cases it is not just a matter of developing a single buyer persona, but rather several buyer personas for the various roles in the buying center.
10 important criteria for buyer personas in B2B
Sociodemography: Here you should primarily determine what gender your persona is and how old it is.
Name: Give your buyer persona a suitable name. What could a typical customer be called for your company?
Photo: Give the buyer persona a face by choosing a suitable photo.
Profession: Think about the job of every single persona in the buying center. Ask yourself what tasks and responsibilities your persona has, but also what key figures are used to measure the success of your work and to whom the persona has to report.
Company: In which industry does the buyer persona work? How big is the company she works for? And what role does the persona company play in the industry?
Experience: Has your buyer persona already had experience with comparable products / services? Or is your product something completely new to them?
Attitudes and values: Write down exemplary statements or key points on the values, beliefs and views of your persona.
Expectations and goals: Ask yourself what expectations your persona has of a business partner and understand what goals the buyer persona aims to achieve with the purchase of a new product or service.
Motivation: What motivates the buyer persona to deal with a specific topic? What problems need to be solved in the persona company? And to what extent is the buyer persona affected by these?
Information channels: Think about the ways in which your buyer persona obtains relevant information. On which channels can your buyer persona be found?
These are just a few of the myriad of questions marketers should address when creating a buyer persona. In the B2B environment in particular, it is important to ask yourself these questions for every role in the buying center.
Important: Only a detailed buyer persona is really helpful for the derivation of suitable content, approach and processes. This means that a superficial one-pager is not sufficient as a profile for a buyer persona.
Helpful methods for creating the buyer persona
A workshop can be a great way to develop a buyer persona. Employees from different departments should be involved and work together on a buyer persona concept. It is particularly important to invite representatives from departments with a lot of customer contact. For example, employees from customer service, sales, and marketing and communication could be invited to such a workshop.
Surveying existing customers in advance of creating a persona can also be very informative in this context. Here it is important to select suitable customers who correspond to the image of an ideal customer or who come as close as possible. In such a conversation it is possible to get a more precise picture of what is important to the customers and also what your customers particularly appreciate about the products and / or the cooperation with your company. This method can also be very helpful when evaluating a buyer persona that has already been developed, as the persona profile in your head allows you to formulate even more targeted and detailed questions.
A precise data analysis is also important for the conception of a buyer persona. All information about the company's customers must be collated and analyzed. From tangible customer data to the number of clicks on the company website, the corporate blog or likes in the social media channels - many companies already know more about their customers and their interests than they initially assume.
Negative Buyer Persona - What is it?
It is the counterpart to the established buyer persona: the negative buyer persona, also known as the anti-persona. It represents all customers that a company does NOT want to reach. This includes, for example, those customers who would not become a happy customer of the company by purchasing the product and using the service. Typically, such customers cause more costs for the company, for example in the area of customer service, which is why working with these customers does not pay off from a company perspective. A popular example of a negative persona in the B2B area is the student who only downloads a company's whitepaper for research on his homework.
Nevertheless, a negative buyer persona can also be helpful when it comes to targeting marketing activities in a targeted manner and making them effective. Because it represents an additional reference point for marketing. For example, marketers can use the negative buyer persona to reduce the number of unqualified leads.
Defining buyer personas is particularly important in B2B marketing. It is crucial to design the personas as concretely and realistically as possible and to fall back on specific customer data as well as on experience in dealing with the company's customers. This helps to remain realistic, because if your buyer persona doesn't even exist in the real world, it is and remains no more than the ideal of an ideal customer.