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7 Reasons Every B2B Marketing Strategy Needs Buyer Personas

Are you confident your B2B marketing efforts are targeting the right audience? Most B2B buyers today self-educate long before reaching out to sales. That’s why your B2B marketing strategy needs buyer personas.

You’ve seen the numbers — 57% of the purchase decision happens before sales gets involved according to CEB and 67% of the buyer’s journey is now done digitally according to SiriusDecisions.  Therefore, it’s more important than ever that your social posts, emails, website, blogs, and other marketing content attracts, converts, and nurtures the right people – your ideal customer or buyer persona.

Here are 7 reasons your B2B marketing strategy needs buyer personas:

  1. B2B buying is complicated – Most B2B buying decisions aren’t made by one person. Sure, there may be a single signature on the contract or PO. However, usually a buying team has purchasing, technical and functional experts. In addition, senior management weights in on final B2B purchase decisions. In fact, CEB’s research shows that an average of 5.4 people are involved in B2B buying decisions. Personas help marketing reach and influence each person on the buying team.
  2. Helps you prioritize – Every marketing team has limited resources. The persona development process helps you and your marketing team (and sales) really home in on your ideal prospects. In addition to the role of your ideal customer (see above), developing personas forces everyone to think about and prioritize verticals, geography, etc. that will drive growth for your organization.
  3. Improves sales and marketing alignment – Since marketing works closely with sales to develop personas, this naturally drives alignment between marketing and sales teams. Marketing will learn from sales, and marketing and sales will be aligned on reaching the priority prospects. The personas you develop can become part of sales on-boarding. This helps new sales reps ramp up more quickly and align them with marketing.
  4. Improves lead quality –Creating your marketing campaigns and content with your persona in mind will naturally attract people more likely to convert to leads. And those leads will be easier to segment for more targeted, personalized and engaging campaigns resulting in more effective nurturing. Marketing will be handing off higher quality leads to sales – sales will love you!
  5. Better focus channels – Do your research right and you’ll know where your personas go to educate themselves and research new solutions. This means you can save time and money by devoting resources and promoting your content to the channels where your personas are, not where you think they might be.
  6. Improves content topic ideation – Without personas your team will be wasting time trying to guess what topics will be of interest. Even worse, you may be developing marketing content that never gets seen. Well-developed personas clearly spell out pain points and challenges, interests, common problems, goals, etc. This makes it much easier to develop topics that resonate with and engage your ideal prospect.

During the persona development process you will invariably uncover internal resources for developing future topics and content.

7. Quicker and better content – Having a persona to share when making content development requests or assignments helps ensure it’s written with the right audience in mind. This is true no matter who the writer is, a new marketing team member, guest blogger, outside writer, or internal subject matter expert. You’ll save time and improve your content.

According to Cintell’s Understanding B2B Buyers: The 2016 Benchmarking Study, companies that exceeded their lead and revenue goals were 2.2 times more likely to have and document buyer personas than companies that miss their goals. So what’s holding you back? Isn’t it time your B2B marketing strategy includes formalized buyer personas for marketing success? Learn more by reading 6 Easy Ways to Research and Develop Buyer Personas.

 

Producing Engaging B2B Marketing Content: Overcome 3 Challenges

The most effective B2B marketers focus on better, more engaging content to drive sales lead quality. Most B2B marketers know that producing more and more content doesn’t necessarily translate into better quality leads. That’s because lots of content that no one engages with is useless. Today, many marketing automation systems provide B2B marketers the ability to measure which content is most effective. However, when everyone within an organization can see the numbers, the importance of producing engaging marketing content only increases. This post discusses why engaging content creation is hard and ways to overcome the challenges.

Top B2B marketing content challenges

Making B2B marketing content engaging is often challenging because of highly technical, or seemingly dry, subject matter. It can also be challenging to measure content effectiveness accurately, especially because it usually takes a while, and there are so many factors that can impact its engagement. Another ongoing challenge is producing engaging content consistently, usually because of resource limitations. Finally, many B2B marketers find it a challenge to understand their audience. However, understanding the target audience using Buyer Personas is critical for producing engaging content.

Below are three content production challenges many B2B marketers face and how to overcome each

Challenge 1: Understanding prospects’ and customers’ business

The internal marketing team doesn’t understand their prospects’ and customers’ industry or business well enough. Therefore, they write content from their own perspective, not the prospect or customer’s perspective.

 

    • Solution – Marketers should spend time with the sales team, prospects, and customers in the field, on phone calls and in meetings. Hearing conversations and seeing first hand is invaluable for gaining this understanding. Marketers should take this opportunity to learn as often as possible. It’s not a one-time thing.

 

Challenge 2: SMEs not delivering the content needed

Internal subject matter experts (SMEs) don’t have the time and/or are not good writers. For many B2B firms, SMEs are often engineers, software developers, R&D, etc. These individuals know the company’s product or service from the ground up. They may even know how customers use the product or service. However, writing content for the marketing team is not their priority and many times they are not good writers.

 

    • Solution – Marketers should determine which SMEs can deliver content (with a real commitment to deadlines). Also understand which SMEs can be a resource to help develop content topics (ideas, webinar speaker, or being interviewed by content writers).

 

Challenge 3: Technical marketing content is hard

Content writers may be unable to research, interview SMEs, use technical research reports, etc. to develop educational and informative content that will truly engage the prospect or customer. Many writers and marketers, whether in-house or outsourced, simply lack the ability to translate complex technical information into compelling educational content. Content their prospects and customers want and need. This is not an easy task for many writers and marketers who come from a liberal arts, journalism or marketing background.

 

    • Solution – Find a marketer with a technical background. If that person doesn’t exist on your in-house team, find a freelance or other outside resource who can fill this role. Sometimes it’s a marketer with a double major like marketing and economics or math. Or look for someone who came into marketing from a technical field, even engineering like I did.

What are you doing to produce more engaging B2B marketing content?

Susan Mitchell is owner of B2B Marketing Source and a freelance B2B marketing consultant to domestic and international firms. She provides marketing strategy, content marketing, sales enablement tools, and lead generation as an extension of your B2B marketing team or to fill resource and capability gaps. Visit her blog “Musings on B2B Marketing” to read more.

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