How to Create B2B Buyer Personas
- Wes McDowell
- October 4, 2018
Today I’m going to walk you through, start to finish exactly how to create a buyer persona for your B2B business. So what exactly is a buyer persona anyway? Well, basically a persona is a fictional customer that’s based on everything you know about your real ones.
And today we’re just focusing on your B2B businesses or business to business. So if you’re a business that caters to other businesses, this is going to be the video for you because B2B businesses have their own set of criteria and their own set of questions that you’re going to need to answer. And it’s really important to remember that even when you cater to other businesses, you’re always trying to appeal to a person or possibly a group of people. You’re not ever just talking to a faceless soulless corporation. So again, today’s all about B2B, but don’t worry if you’re B2C or even a startup. I will be doing buyer persona creation of videos for those categories in the very near future as well.
So why would you want to create a persona for your business anyway? Well, it’s the best way to really put a face on your customer and just like looking at a bullseye helps you aim a dart, keeping your eye on the persona is the best way to make sure your messaging stays on target. And it also helps keep your digital marketing sharp because by really targeting exactly who’s going to see your ad, you can really keep those costs down because you’re only paying to be seen by your most ideal prospects. And it also helps you increase conversions on your website because the more you know about your customer, the more you can speak their language, play to their goals and motivations, and overcome their objections in real time. Okay, so now let’s get into it. Let’s talk about exactly how to create these buyer personas. Uh, the first thing you’re gonna want to do is you’re going to want to refine it down to your most ideal customers or the ones you really love doing business with. We’re not targeting everybody here. We’re really narrowing our focus to the most ideal customers you want to work with.
It’s also important to refine this down to the decision makers or the, at least the gatekeepers who you need to initially attract. Depending on your business, you may have just one persona or you may have many personas. If you have different areas in your business, in different people you want to attract, but I highly recommend you start small and just really start with that number one customer and you’re really just going to start with what you already know about them, so you’ve probably already had many conversations with your customers or if you haven’t, your sales team probably has to. You’re definitely gonna want to involve the people in your business who have the most customer interactions under their belt because they’re probably gonna. Be the most knowledgeable about all of these questions that we’re going to have to answer so beyond what you know about your customers or what you think you know about your customers.
You’re actually going to definitely want to interview some past and current clients or customers, even the unhappy ones. You’re going to learn a lot from those people. Even if it sounds unpleasant to do it. Can you create personas? Without these interviews? You can, but they’re likely to miss the mark. If you’re just going on your own intuition and imagination, filling in the gaps and you may not really get their goals and motivations and objections dialed incorrectly that way. For instance, you may think that your pricing is the biggest objection people have when maybe that’s not it at all. Maybe it’s more of a feature that’s missing from your product or a lack of confidence in your track record. The bottom line is you don’t know for sure until you ask. Okay, so how do you go about finding these interviewees? Well, you’re definitely gonna want to reach out to a few of your good customers and even a few of your bad ones.
Um, no. Don’t tell them that they fall into that category. In any case, good or bad, just tell people how much you value their input and you’ll be surprised how many people just want to be heard. And I’d actually take this a step further and reach out to a few ideal prospects who haven’t yet become a customer. You know, their insights are going to be really valuable to. You’ll be able to get to know their thought process and what it might take to actually sway those people over to your side. And if it’s a case where you can’t really find anyone who’s actually connected to your business in any way, for whatever reason, you can always try sites like craigslist, usertesting.com, or even run facebook ads to really target those ideal customers and bring them in for an interview. Okay. So you’re asking people to come in for interviews.
How do you make sure you get more of them to say yes? Um, unfortunately you’re probably going to have to use incentives for most of these people. I’m happy customers may come in on their own, but you’ll find that you’re more unhappy. Customers or cold prospects are probably going to need something not only for them, but it’s good for you as well because this really ups the likelihood that people are going to show up. It’s just human nature. Unless something’s in it for them, they’re likely just to kind of skip it. So what do you use for that incentive? You know, some people, uh, you may be able to do is offer a free service or product to get them in, but in most cases what I recommend is a gift card or a visa gift card or an Amazon Gift Card or great, I’m usually around $50 I found is the good price point.
And I actually like the Amazon gift card because if you’re doing the interviews over the phone or on Skype, uh, you don’t, there’s no need to actually give them a physical card. You can just email them, uh, the gift card number. Also, if you’re going to want to make it very clear that this is not going to be a sales call, I think some people’s brains are just wired to be pessimistic and they think, okay, great. This is really just going to be one big sales pitch. Make sure they know it’s not that it’s just an interview to help you improve your business and you’re probably going to be tempted to just send a list of questions for them to answer. I highly recommend against doing that because what’s going to happen is if you emailed this big list of questions that are going to take a look at it and think, oh, I’ll do this later and likely they never will.
Right. So I definitely recommend you set up a time for a phone interview where you ask the questions, you record it, and you write down the answers and people are much more likely just to show up for that scheduled time than to fill out a form in their own time. Now, the amount of interviews you need to get this done, it’s going to vary from case to case. Um, I generally think it’s somewhere around three to five interviews per persona. But the good rule of thumb is once the answers start becoming predictable, that tells you that you now have enough information to go on because you can accurately kind of predict what it is they’re feeling. Okay. And as for the questions themselves, I am not going to go through every single one of them here. This video. It’d be way too long if I did that.
So if you go in the description below, there’s going to be a link to a Google doc. You can access all of those questions there, but basically the questions go over their specific role in the company, the company itself, goals, challenges, how they keep up to date, and their knowledge, personal background, and shopping preferences, and again, for those specific questions, just click in the link below in the description. And my best piece of advice here is when you’re going through those questions, always ask why. If you feel like you really haven’t gotten to the heart of the answer to a question, just dig deeper by asking why you’ll go from just hearing about the symptoms to what the actual problem is. Okay, so now once you have all the answers to these questions, how do you begin forming those answers into your customer persona a?
Well, basically you’re going to want to start by listing out all their basic demographic information lists, their job title, whether the gender skew one way or another age ranges, and all of this helps you really target the messaging on your site. You know, you would use very different language and different design choices if you’re appealing to a 25 year old male than if you were talking to a 55 year old female, for instance. Next, list out their motivations, goals, and challenges. Remember, I told you to keep asking why you know, and here’s where all those whys become so important. We want to show, uh, what keeps your persona up at night, you know, what do they want to accomplish and what can your business do to help them with that? Next, you’re going to want to grab some real quotes from your interviews. It’s really helpful to record your interviews, to capture, you know, the actual quotes that illustrate we are personas are worried about and what they want.
Not only does that help you hone in on your general messaging, but if you can use some of their exact, within the copy on the site, people are going to feel like you’re in their head a little bit, uh, which really will help them to trust you. Next, you’re going to want to list out some of the common objections that you keep hearing over and over again. Now, this is possibly the most important piece of information you’re going to get from these interviews, so be sure to really dive deep with it. Know when you’re coming up with content for your website, it’s going to be really tempting to kind of sidestep these objections and just like if I don’t mention it, they don’t ever think about it not true. They’re already thinking about these objections in their head, so what you want to do, the best thing you can do is not sidestep those objections, but address them head on and rebuke them and tell them why these are not actually problems that need to worry about with you.
Now, this can be done in a few ways. You can either dispel it as a myth. If it’s something that’s just not true for you or you can anchor it to an alternative. If it might be an actual concern, basically explaining why your version is better or why it brings more value. For example, you know, in my business, the deep end, we are definitely not the cheapest provider out there, so we would never say that we are, so we actually do is we anchor that to our competitor will say with them you could pay less, but they were going to do a lot less research and a lot less conversion optimization. So yes, you pay less, but then you basically get a site that never pays you back versus you pay a little bit more with us and you recoup that money very quickly through new customer acquisition.
And I could also say that other companies that do all the discovery and research that we do, uh, do charge quite a bit more than we do. So it’s really just a matter of positioning your offer as opposed to the alternatives and showing why your option is a much more appealing one. So next you’re going to want to craft your elevator pitch. So basically you’re going to take the main motivation and the main objection and use the word without right in the middle of it. So it emphasizes what they get and the fact that they don’t have to suffer through the part that they don’t want. An example of this might be we make it easy for job seekers to get multiple offers from employers without filling out countless applications. And lastly, you want to bring your persona to life by giving it a name and a photo you know this makes a difference between thinking of your customers are real living, human being, and just a generic type, so give your persona a name, even if it sounds silly to you, remember it’s just to be used internally, but this really helps you picture a real person and speaking of picturing them, find a photo that makes sense to use with them so you can see an image and have a name and really begin to attribute this persona to real customer that you need to appeal to and you can really get this image anywhere since it’s only to be used internally.
You can pay for one from a stock site or just do a google search a bit. If you use a google image, it’s very important not to ever distribute that outside of your own business and once you have all this information written down, you can either just simply put it all on a spreadsheet, but I actually recommend making it a little more visually appealing. You can actually use a free tool by hubspot called make my persona. It’s just a really cool interactive tool that helps you put it altogether and it looks nice and you. Then you can download the pdf when you’re finished or if you have an in house graphic designer, they can handle the project or if you don’t, you can go to a website like fiverr and get someone to pretty inexpensively designed one of these for you. Make sure you print it out and posted up anywhere where you need to really be inspired by your customer itself and whenever you’re in doubt, if there’s any kind of a marketing or content decision to be made, ask yourself, is this what they would want to see?
All right, and now is the time in the video where I want to hear from you and I want to know in the comments below, are you using buyer personas of any kind right now, and if so, do you have any tips that you would like to add that I haven’t covered? You know, our other viewers would love to see what you have to say and so what I, so we have that or any comments or questions in the comments section below and I will look at everything and answer everything I can.
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