Sometime back I led a Frost and Sullivan conference session on leveraging social media for lead generation. As most B2B marketers know, generating measurable returns on social media has been a longstanding challenge for enterprise technology companies.
I built the session around the importance of research to gain a better understanding of how to find your buyers, learn what's important to them, and then to connect these insights with your brand’s strengths and competitive differentiation. I divided the audience into groups, and identified one individual within each group whose company had recently made a B2B purchase. The purchases ranged from CRM systems to web design vendors.
Then, I asked the rest of the group to pretend they were the marketing departments for the CRM system, web design service or other B2B vendor, and to interview the buyer they had the good fortune to have in their presence. I was curious:
- Did they know what to ask?
- What questions and answers could help them do a better job as marketers?
- What could help them to build a social media program to connect with this buyer and other potential buyers?
We established a framework for asking questions and categorizing the answers to build a detailed persona for each group’s buyer. The next step was to then map these insights to a social media program that would connect with this buyer.
The session was a revelation for many of the participants. Suddenly social media graduated from an item on their marketing checklist to a means to reaching their most important goals.
Well-Researched Buyer Personas Save Time and Money in the Long Run
Buyer personas don't just focus and move the needle for social media programs; they guide and inform all of your marketing channels, from PR to website to email marketing,
There are a number of approaches to building buyer personas. At Idea Grove, our preferred methodology is specially formulated for the unique marketing challenges faced by B2B technology companies. It includes the following three steps:
1. Conduct qualitative research to collect actionable insights. We start by interviewing real buyers to learn what prospects are thinking as they weigh their B2B technology purchase options. Adapted from the proven methodologies of the Buyer Persona Institute, Idea Grove's journalistic approach to buyer research reveals actionable insights -- attitudes, concerns and decision criteria that guide buyers to choose you or a competitor. These insights, provided in the form of verbatim quotes from your customers and prospects, empower you to align your marketing strategies with your buyer’s expectations. It's the first step to developing a bond of familiarity with buyers that your competitors simply can't touch.
2. Sort and analyze these insights to create authoritative personas. A buyer persona should be more than an alliterative gimmick, demographic profile or map of the buyer's journey. We provide a comprehensive summary of your ideal customer's priorities and motivations. We sort and analyze quotes from buyer interviews to tell you (1) the specific pain points that drive buyers to look for a solution; (2) the rewards a buyer associates with success; (3) the barriers that cause prospects to hesitate; (4) the criteria buyers use to narrow their options and make a final decision; and (5) all aspects of the buying process, from how your prospect first searches for a solution, to the input of stakeholders involved at key points along the way.
3. Develop a strategic roadmap to attract your ideal buyers. After classifying your prospects into buyer personas, we deliver a strategic roadmap for turning this analysis into marketing ROI. We help separate your personas into marketing tracks with messages that speak persuasively to each. We update your elevator pitch and sales scripts, recommend public relations, social media and content strategy improvements, and more. For our HubSpot clients, we help create dynamic content based on personas, so when your website detects a user's IP address during their visit, it provides a personalized experience, from content to calls-to-action. It's marketing with the pinpoint precision needed to deliver predictable ROI in today's environment.
My favorite part of our approach is that it is a fast-track methodology that can typically be completed within a timeframe and at a price point that traditional market research firms simply can't touch. It's a big reason why an increasingly number of our clients are choosing to "ready-aim-fire" instead of "ready-fire-aim" with their marketing programs.