After 20 years in the B2B marketing business, I have developed an affinity for what works. I don’t worry about being fancy or trendy. I’m just looking for the stuff that makes sense and helps my team do a great job for our clients.
That’s why I love marketing buyer personas.
Buyer personas are prototypical character sketches of your key prospects. At Schubert, we use personas to gain a more detailed understanding of the target audiences we are trying to reach. By assigning detailed personalities and characteristics to these personas, we begin to better understand the key influencers in the B2B buying process. Armed with this insight, we are able to build the most effective messaging to compel them to take action and buy something from our clients. And fall in love with the brand.
The blogosphere is full of posts that describe what buyer personas are and how they work. So, I’m not going to add another post that does the same. Instead, I want to tell you about the two main reasons why I love personas.
1) Personas remind us that we are marketing to people!
There are many ways to define a market, right? It could be a geographic area or a demographic. Sure, that’s the big picture, but I think it’s the wrong picture.
I like to think of markets as people. To me, it makes sense because every B2B purchase decision comes down to a person who has a need and decides to trust one company over another. That’s why effective brands should be designed to connect with people — to build an emotional bond. A buyer needs to believe that you will make good on your promises and help them do their job better.
Brands reside in the minds of your prospects so it is very important that we understand what is going on inside those minds – on a personal level. That is what buyer personas help us do.
2) Personas help build consensus.
I have found that marketing teams have an easier time agreeing on a persona versus a broader definition. For instance, it’s hard to relate to the term “bench chemist” and get a consensus regarding needs, problems, motivations, etc. But once you assign a persona, things really get rolling. That impersonal definition becomes relatable and more understandable. He becomes “James.”
“James is a bench chemist at a midsized coatings manufacturer and has been with the company for five years. James is very self-sufficient, which works well for him because his midsize company doesn’t have expansive internal resources. He is comfortable using the web to research, but some input from an experienced consultant would be welcome and help him conquer his immediate formulation challenges.”
It’s like magic. Suddenly, the details of the persona enable the marketing team to visualize the audience. Animated conversation flows. Messaging ideas are measured against the new persona to see if they will work. Opinions are considered and final decisions are made more easily.
They’re simple and they’re effective. They make us better marketers. That’s why I love personas.
Rich Carango is president of Schubert Communications. Starting at Schubert in 1994, Rich now heads the agency in creating effective IMC campaigns, PR campaigns, advertising, brochures, direct mail, logos, websites, multimedia and content. Rich holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in design from American University. When Rich is not in the office he enjoys spending time with his wife and children and is a huge history buff.