How to Create an Accurate B2B Buyer Persona
What is a buyer persona?
A buyer persona is simply a profile of your client’s ideal customer.
You might actually have two or three different buyer personas for a particular client because a client may sell to two, three, or even four very distinct groups. Sometimes you can have very different target audiences, so it's important to have a buyer persona for each one.
But you might have to create that buyer persona yourself because sometimes the client doesn’t have one.
When you have a buyer persona for your B2B clients, you’ll be able to write your copy and content faster and better.
Let’s say your client is a forklift manufacturer and you ask them if they have a buyer persona for their target audience.
And they tell you they have a buyer persona called Mary the Warehouse Operations Director. They give you a document with a bullet list of characteristics about Mary. Their buyer persona may even have a representative picture of the person as well.
So, by the time you read this short list, you’ve got a pretty clear picture of who Mary is. You know what she’s up against, what she likes, what she doesn’t like, what her challenges, needs, and interests are. You get a sense that you know her.
When you know what makes them tick and you have that buyer persona in front of you, writing the copy or content is so much easier and faster because you can quickly figure out what you need to say and how to say it.
You’ll write it better, too, because it's tailored to that target audience’s needs, interests, and challenges. That’s why you want to have a buyer persona in front of you.
Think of it this way — who would you have a better chance of persuading to try a new restaurant — a friend or a stranger?
Well, chances are, you probably have a better chance of persuading a friend, simply because you know your friend. You know what they like and don’t like, so you can quickly and accurately figure out what you need to say to persuade them to try that new restaurant.
That’s the same principle with a buyer persona.
A buyer persona gives you a similar advantage. You get a sense that you know the person you're trying to connect with through your copy or content.
Now, not every client you write for will have buyer personas. You might get a client, for example, who says, “Our prospects are accountants. They're numbers people.” That’s all they tell you.
Is that enough to go on?
You’ll need to create your own buyer persona for your client’s audience, even if it's just for your own use. It’s not really too complicated. Let me outline this for you …
3 Strategies You Can Use to Quickly Create a B2B Buyer Persona
The most practical buyer persona will have the persona’s name and title. So, you'll have Mary the Warehouse Operations Director or Mark the Marketing Manager or Sam the Small Business Owner or something like that. You should give them a proper name and a title.
And then, you'll have a short bullet list of their characteristics related to your client’s product or service.
You’ll see what he's all about and what he’s up against. What are his challenges, and what are his interests. What are some of the reasons why he would buy your client’s product, and what are some of the reasons why he wouldn’t buy your client’s product.
That bullet list can be anywhere from half a page to a page long. I don’t think you need to go longer than a page to get a pretty clear picture of who that target audience is.
That’s the format of a typical buyer persona, and one that’s very easy to create.
Now, where do you get the profile information to create those bullets?
Well, let me give you some tips on how to do that. There's three things I do that work very well and will help you create a profile fairly quickly.
#1. Talk to Your Client
During the initial project discussion I have with the client, I’ll say something like, “Now let’s talk about the target audience. May I ask you some questions about your target audience?” And of course, the client will say yes.
And then you ask some open-ended questions about the target audience so the client can give you their insights. Trust me, they’ll have pretty strong opinions of who their audience is and what makes them tick.
Your client can be a great source of information. You want to ask about the job title of the target audience. For example, are they marketing managers, marketing directors, or marketing VPs?
You want to ask about the challenges the target audience faces. What keeps them up at night? What problems are they trying to solve? What's a real worry for them? What are their pain points? What are their challenges? What are they trying to accomplish that they're struggling to get done?
You also want to ask questions around what prompts the target audience to become initially interested in their product and to buy your client’s product or service. What prompts them to take the first step? You get some great insights there.
You also want to find out what current issues and concerns are top of mind for the target audience. What are they thinking about these days? Is there an industry issue or is there a current event that’s top of mind for them?
That’s great information to have in the profile. You might be able to use that in the copy and content you're writing.
You want to find out what their educational background is as well. Do they tend to have college or university degrees? Or do they tend to have skilled credentials? Are they credentialed professionals like dentists? Are they tradespeople who have migrated into management?
You might want to find out how they research products and services, especially your client’s product or service. Are they mainly on their mobile device? Do they like attending trade shows and finding out about products that way?
And you want to find out how they make decisions. Are they the sole decision makers? Or do they need to get major buying decisions approved by someone else? By partners or higher-ups in the company?
A really great question to ask your client is what would possibly dissuade your target audience from buying from you? What are their objections? What stands in their way? What makes them decide not to buy from you?
Ask questions around that topic because you can get some really good insights into the reasons the target audience may not want to buy from your client. Then you can address that in your copy.
So, this is the kind of information you want to find out. Believe me, your client’s going to be talking a lot about this so take plenty of notes. You can get a lot of great insights to use in your own buyer persona.
#2. Talk to Your Client’s Sales Staff
Your client’s salespeople talk to their prospects and customers every day, so they’re a great source of information. They know these people. They probably know them better than your client knows them.
So, I always ask new clients if I can speak to one of their sales reps. Spending five or 10 minutes on the phone with one of your client’s sales reps and asking the same type of questions you asked your client is going to give you a wealth of information.
You're going to get insights from the sales rep that you wouldn’t get anywhere else, simply because salespeople have to talk to and persuade this target audience every day. They know how to do it.
They know what to say, and how to put things to their prospects and clients to motivate them to buy. They can sometimes even give you lines of copy they use, and you can use that information in your copy. It's golden.
#3. Study Trade Association Websites
Now, just about every profession, every trade group, every type of Business-to-Business buyer will have a trade association. Accountants, lawyers, realtors, human resource managers, marketing directors, IT people. Everybody has professional associations, and they can be a wealth of information.
To give you an example, I had a client a couple of years ago whose target audience was people who owned independent health food stores that weren’t part of a chain.
So I did some research on Google and found their trade association website. On that website, I was able to find out all about independent health food retailers. I learned who they are, what they're like, and what their challenges are. I really got to know them.
In less than a half an hour, I was able to build a pretty accurate buyer persona of the independent health food retailer.
When you're checking out an association website, find the events page or the annual conference page. If there’s some information available on their conferences or events, look at the topics. Often those topics will mirror what is top of mind for that target audience these days.
These topics really give you a lot of insights into the challenges, needs, and interests of that target audience.
For example, if your client sells to real estate agents and they don’t have a buyer persona, you can go to the National Association of Realtors’ website and poke around there to find out all about realtors.
You can also find out about their national conference and you'll notice that one of the hot topics is social media marketing. Realtors are really interested in how to do social media better so they can get more listings.
Now you know that’s a hot topic for them.
So, do those three things and you can very quickly create a very accurate buyer persona. And when you have a buyer persona created, it's going to help you write copy and content for your B2B clients faster. The copy and content you create will be better because it's tailored specifically and accurately to that target audience.