As a B2B marketing agency, when we work with a client on any creative project (e.g. videos, lead nurture flows, blogs, collateral, etc.) one of the sections in our standard brief is focused on their target buyer personas. When this section is completed with great detail or when the client gives us their persona summary files, invariably the following happens:
1. We get super-excited because we have so much more clarity on our target audience
2. Our work is so much better and there are considerably fewer rounds of revisions
3. Our clients are so much happier with the results
Giving your buyer persona summaries to your agency is akin to giving them a window into the soul of your buyers.
Unfortunately, many of our clients have never had personas created for their B2B buyers. When we ask for the documents, the general response goes something like, “I wish we had them...I know we need them, but we don’t have them.” It’s usually a time or cost issue as both are major currencies for marketers.
But given how critical personas are to nailing the fundamentals of any audience-facing work, can you really afford NOT to have them?
If you’ve experienced any of the 5 following situations, it may be time to place “GET OUR BUYER PERSONAS DONE” higher on your list of marketing priorities.
1. You are consistently frustrated with your creative teams or your agencies.
If campaign briefs are a hassle to complete and your creative resources seem to be spinning their wheels, it’s often because there’s a lot of important information missing from their mental picture of the target audience. Personas give creative people the clarity and the inspiration to do their best work.
2. Your sales, marketing and product teams do not have a shared view of your buyers and their buyer journeys.
If the internal view of your buyers is inconsistent, there’s a strong possibility that your prospects’ interactions with your brand are pockmarked with inconsistencies. As salespeople will readily attest, a confused mind never buys. Personas ensure that your whole team has a shared understanding of your typical prospects, their needs, their involvement in the buying process and the content that would matter to them.
3. Your content and/or campaigns that contain generic messaging (aimed at all buyer personas) perform poorly.
Have you ever been part of a campaign that got watered down as it made its way through reviews by other stakeholders? There’s a good chance your competitors are able to avoid this problem since according to a study published in a LinkedIn Technology Marketing group, 80% of marketers support two or more buyer personas and roles with dedicated content. Buyer Personas allow you to be remain specific with your dedicated content messages because you can defend your choices using real data, customer verbatims and a map of the buyer cycle. Personas are the antidote to generic, boring content.
4. You rely on guesswork instead of real information as inputs to critical and expensive go-to-market decisions.
Marketers are often under pressure to get things done and make decisions to meet a launch date or a deadline. There’s never enough time to do sufficient research. But what’s the point of rushing to produce tepid results? As the old saying goes, “Garbage In, Garbage Out.” If your inputs are incorrect, your output is unlikely to be satisfying. Personas can provide the details needed for marketers to make better decisions.
5. Your sales enablement materials are collecting dust.
The VP of sales for one of our clients told me that he stopped using their old personas a long time ago because they were no longer valid. When sales lacks confidence in the view that marketing has about buyers, then sales has probably lost confidence in the content the marketing team produces. If the content isn’t relatable and helpful to the people across the table from your salesperson, then it won’t be used. Personas, built in part with the input of sales, ensure that the materials created for sales will actually be shared with your buyers.
While creating personas requires time and effort, it doesn’t have to be painful, especially if you follow a tried-and-true process that eliminates guesswork and ensures results you can rely upon. The payoff is often tremendous in terms of informing your marketing strategy, fine-tuning your tactics and boosting the results of your lead-generation efforts.