The Ultimate B2B Marketing Guide to Building Buyer Personas

B2B buyer personas

An integral element of great inbound marketing is content marketing -- and maximising its reach. But before we can create brilliant content, we need to know who to market to: our buyer personas. And why: what questions we're answering.

In essence, our success as marketers falls on our ability to nail the right message, the right medium, and the right audience.

Adele Revella, who heads up the Buyer Persona Institute, simply says that understanding buyer personas is the key to 1. marketing message, 2. content mapping and 3. lead segmentation, scoring and nurturing. 

The value of building buyer personas

B2B marketers go to the trouble of creating marketing personas to nurture leads. That simple? Well, let’s look at it this way; Take two personas, lets call them Marketer Molly and Owner Oscar. Say they are involved in buying the same special needs beds for the same private health clinic. Their end purchase is the same. But, Oscar is the decision-maker and Molly an influencer in his purchase.

Marketer Molly will be looking for a bed package that she can pitch to the board, and that she can market to potential patients of the hospital. Owner Oscar, on the otherhand, might be more concerned with maximising ROI, capital expenses and the cost of the beds' maintenance.

What’s more, is that Marketer Molly is likely to search her competitors to see how they marketed their facility; the online interest being shown in such a facility; and patient feedback. Owner Oscar, in contrast, will be hunting for whitepapers with rich information on the upkeep costs, key features of the design, his medical staff’s ability to best use the beds, etc.

Owner Oscar and Marketer Molly have different goals. And, as B2B marketers, we need to tailor our offers to each. When we create copy about our special needs bed package, what we say to Molly and Oscar must be differently positioned. So it becomes more clear; creating these personas is not optional, but essential. Without them, we have no marketing direction.

In creating buyer archetypes, we structure each persona’s journey through the sales cycle. We create alignment across our organisation and marketing department, getting the right type of traffic, leads and customers.

Buyer personas allow us to:

1) Attract traffic

We can build a keyword list that responds to the persona’s web searches for questions about their problem/pain/challenge. These keywords can be added to keyword tool and voila! we’re optimising. For one keyword, we can also have multiple campaigns.

2) Generate leads

By having tailored conversations with our buyer personas -- engaging content dialogues in their language -- we can develop the best calls to action. To make sure we’re on track, we can use A/B testing to see which CTAs are getting a higher click to submission rate. We’re also able to enhance our email segmentation, and design direct mailers that target each persona's buying journey. 

3) Nurture leads

With steps one and two in place, we’ll be able to see what our personas do on our site. Did you say deep-dive analysis? With personas, we can understand more than the obvious because it’s not just about a single most popular piece of content, but a combination that satisfies their needs. We can pick up these content consumption patterns from reviewing our lead records.

Using our buyer personas, we deliver the right message to the right people at the right time!

What you need to create a buyer persona profile

The Basics:


  • Your individual persona's business problems and challenges
  • The implications of NOT solving the problems and how this impacts their business goals
  • Likely role, titles, responsibilities
  • Likely places of employment
  • Watering holes: where they go to quench their information thirst
  • Personal background: age, education

Once you've got that down, crosscheck your new personas with...

The Principles

1) Focus on behaviour -- Your archetypes should describe the various goals and observed behaviour patterns among your potential users and customers. These should be common and generalised.

2) Keep it fictional but realistic -- You don't want it to be abstract but you don't want it to reconstruct someone that you know. Specific, real people have unhelpful idiosyncrasies that can pollute useful personas.

3) Use pictures to humanise the theoretical archetype: It helps.

4) Tell stories -- Detailed anecdote is more memorable than a bullet-point list.

5) Focus on one persona (or a few). Choose one primary persona (other personas are secondary) and consider identifying negative personas (people you don’t want to target)

Remember that personas can expand to multiple target markets and, similarly, within a target market there can be multiple personas. David Meerman Scott says in this video that buyer personas also include people not yet on your radar -- 'could be' customers if you create the right content.

In a nutshell...

1) Develop your buyer personas

2) Understand their personas respective challenges

3) Establish their questions around these challenges

4) Create content that answers their challenges and the questions that follow before your buyers even know they have them. Pre-emptive, effective, and nurturing marketing. Not soundbytes but stories that creates high-impact new media marketing.

Once you’ve cracked your buyer personas, you’ll have a handle on why they love your product or service – how your solution creates a benefit for them and how they need that benefit to genuinely solve their problem. Understanding the causal link between problem, need, benefit and solution in your buyer personas gives you the direction you need in your content messaging.

An additional tip is to make use of inbound tracking. The beauty of digital inbound marketing is our ability to track our buyers’ progress. This means, more specifically, that we’re able to assess which pieces of our content are working, and what aren’t. Metrics, even if they say you’re getting no love, are your best friend. An unrivalled compass for improvement.

Kuno Creative advises, similarly to Meerman Scott, that we "Look through the data to see if there's somebody who doesn't match with an exisitng buyer persona. One of those standout leads might just be a potential buyer that [we] never knew existed." The advantage with tracking is that we'll update our library of valid and current personas.

To learn more about the art of B2B content marketing, and your buyer's journey through the sales funnel please download our complimentary eBook The Buyer's Journey

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Topics: inbound marketing strategy buyer personas buyer behaviour