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6 Tips on Building B2B Buyer Personas for Your Tech Firm

October 20, 2016 By Hendrik-Jan Francke

6 Tips on Building B2B Buyer Personas for Your Tech Firm

Before you write a single word of your company’s marketing strategy, you need to focus on one important thing: building your buyer personas.

Buyer personas are semi-fictional representations of your target customer. Buyer personas will help you answer: Who are my target prospects? What makes them tick? What are their problems?

Why does this matter? Well, inbound marketing is a proven marketing approach for technology firms. Building B2B buyer personas are an essential element in inbound marketing that helps teams achieve their marketing goals.

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How Building Buyer Personas Will Improve Marketing ROI

First: What Information Should You Uncover?

There are several approaches to creating buyer personas: client interviews, surveys, social media investigation, sales and marketing team brainstorms.

No matter which avenue you choose, you’ll want to uncover information in these five categories:

  1. Customer Demographics
  2. Challenges
  3. Buying Behavior Patterns
  4. Motivations
  5. Goals

Building on these areas will help create a complete picture of your persona and see different personas start to take shape.

Here are 6 Tips on Building Buyer Personas:

Leave Your Assumptions at the Door

Let’s think about this for a second. Why are you creating personas? Your goal is to learn more about who your customers are—not to confirm what you already know. Approaching personas with an “I already know” mindset will only lead to you recycling stagnant marketing strategies that don’t work.

Personas are an opportunity to learn new facts and insights that might make the light bulb inside your brain shine with new marketing ideas.

So remember, say goodbye to those closed off inclinations and open up to things you might not have known about your customers.

Tailor Questions to the Individual's Industry

It’s important to avoid making assumptions that will limit the quality of your interview, but that does not mean you can’t use your industry knowledge to make the interview better!

Tailoring questions to the person’s individual industry (IT, Tech, Engineering) adds specificity that will encourage your interviewee to elaborate further.

During each interview, you’ll have a standard list of questions like job title, company size, etc. But look for opportunities to rope in their business and industry during your conversation.

For example, let’s say you are selling IT services to medical companies. Below are examples of industry specific questions you might ask:

“What are the biggest technology problems facing the medical industry?”
“What do medical industry experts look for in a technology firm?”

See what I mean? Framing questions around their industry (and your services) give the matter more context.

Look Inside, Outside, and at Lost Opportunities

What better way to recognize customer concerns than getting answers right from the client’s mouth? Building buyer personas require taking in several different points of view. Interview your seasoned team members, 10 customers, and even 10 prospects whose business you didn’t win.

From your internal team, collect sales stories, customer horror stories, examples where clients rocked, and examples where they stunk.

Existing customers will help you learn more about their most pressing pain points, what challenges they face, and where they are going to find answers. Be sure to talk to clients soon after they signed with you. You want them to remember their journey through the buying process.

While talking to lost prospects might not sound like fun, it can be helpful in uncovering what needs they had at different points in the buyer’s journey. You’ll discover where you hit the mark, and where you missed it during the marketing & sales process. Again, be sure to talk to them soon after you lost the bid. This way, you are still fresh in their minds.

Ask Open-Ended Questions That Spark Elaboration

Don’t just ask simple “yes” or “no” questions when conducting buyer persona interviews. This only serves to confirm your previous assumptions. And avoid using either/or questions such as, “Did you use LinkedIn or Google for your search?” These types of questions don’t open up a dialogue.

Instead, tweak your question to encourage conversation and elaboration. Ask, “What types of things did you discover when researching IT companies?” Open-ended questions will elicit more responses. Make sure to follow up with questions that are going to encourage elaboration. For example, “What search results did you find most helpful?”

Remember, you want to leave your assumptions at the door and approach these interviews with an open mind full of questions.

Open-ended questions will invite honest answers and interesting anecdotes. These are the types of responses that will spark new marketing ideas!

Create a Persona Backstory

Once your persona starts taking shape, help yourself by providing a brief backstory that exemplifies your persona.

Creating backstory brings your persona to life and gives you a complete view of your persona. When you know your persona better, you can make stronger, more emotional connections in your marketing.

Name Your Persona

Naming personas will make them more familiar to you. The name helps them become living, breathing representations easily used in your marketing vernacular. It makes them more real!

For example, imagine sitting in a marketing meeting, and a colleague across the table spouts out, “We need more offers geared towards technology guys.” What technology guys? The IT guy? Or the CTO?

This kind of ambiguity will only serve to cloud your marketing efforts. Generalizations like this don’t have any direct link to a persona.

Instead, discuss your personas in precise terms by giving them a name. Saying, “This offer targets Chief Technology Officer Charlie—he is weighing different sales automation tools,” has a lot more power than saying, “this offer targets technology guys.”

Results-Driven Marketing Stems from Buyer Personas

Buyer personas are essential to any B2B marketing success. Avoid implementing personas, and you run the risk of developing blog posts and offers that targeted to people you don't consider prospects. You waste time and resources and are left wondering what you could have done differently.

Understanding your target audience’s goals and desires will set the stage for optimizing your digital marketing strategy that will deliver dynamic results.

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