In contrast to much consumer buying, the business-to-business (B2B) buying decision is rarely made solo. Larger purchasing decisions typically involve multiple people within the organization, each with individual motivations and needs. Having a deep understanding of your audience is critical to creating marketing strategies and tactics that lead to customer acquisition and retention. Your marketing message must address these different decision makers and their individual needs in order to break through the clutter and make the sale.
You can make this challenge easier by developing buyer personas (fictitious characters of your own design that represent ideal customers for your company). The process of developing buyer personas helps everyone in your organization understand what makes each buyer unique and ensures you develop marketing content that’s relevant to each of them.
Step One: Identify the Decision Makers
Step one in developing buyer personas includes listing the job titles and typical demographics (gender, age, education/ background), as well as the job responsibilities associated with each.
Consider your existing customers (especially those you would describe as ‘ideal’) and who the decision makers are in those companies. If you’re selling industrial equipment, you may need to address the engineers and the purchasing department. If you’re selling employee benefits, you’ll need to speak to human resource professionals and company owners or CEOs. If your market is nonprofit organizations or educational institutions, you’ll probably need to craft your message for a committee.
Step Two: Consider Rational and Emotional Motivations
Now it’s time to flesh out these personas with each one’s unique challenges or pain points (what keeps them up at night) and goals (how your product can help them achieve their personal and professional objectives).
While B2B buyers are primarily concerned with how a purchase will impact the company, they also have individual needs that your messaging should address. This article from market research firm B2B International breaks down B2B buyers’ rational motivations (does this product solve the company’s problem? will it help me do my job better?) as well as emotional motivations (will this buying decision make me look good? will I be comfortable working with this supplier?). Include both rational and emotional challenges and goals in your description of each buyer persona.
Step Three: Meet Your Buyers Where They Are
Finally, include the best way to reach your target personas by answering these questions:
- What social media platforms do they use most?
- Do they watch TV, listen to the radio or podcasts, read magazines or newspapers?
- How do they search the internet?
- What types of technology do they use (desktops, phones, tablets)?
- Do they prefer text, email, or phone calls?
Most buyers can be reached through multiple channels. Before deploying any specific tactics, be sure to consider where your prospective buyer is on his or her buyer’s journey.
Selling to multiple decision makers can be challenging. Developing buyer personas that identify the demographics, responsibilities, challenges, and goals of each one is key to developing a successful strategic marketing plan, making it more likely that you’ll achieve consensus among multiple decision makers and close the deal.