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How to Build B2B Buyer Personas for Inbound Marketing

By Ryan Nicholson

Jul 22, 2015

About 4 minutes

What is Persona Building?

When an inbound marketer asks you about your target market these days they aren't asking about your ideal company profile. They're asking about the actual person that you're targeting with a specific kind of message. They are trying to better understand, and help you better understand, how your marketing messaging should be more nuanced and catered towards the individual.BuyerPersonas-1

The process we typically walk clients through aims to get a better understanding of this person based not only on the size and shape of the company they work for, but also the geographic, demographic and psychographic information that is known about that audience. The aim is to come up with a semi-fictional representation of that ideal customer.

Example Persona - George the CIO

Here's an example: "George Smith is a CIO of a manufacturing firm who makes approximately $175k per year. George believes that marketing is an import to keep his IT department running smoothly. He works over 70 hours per week. George values hard work, honesty, family, and independence." When you create personas like this it sometimes becomes easier to say "Would George read this kind of content" or "would George buy this." 

Our aim for these persona exercises is to paint a picture of "George" that is deeper than a few sentences and gets into his motivators as an individual and a professional. We work hard to get away from the idea that we can take out one message and market to an entire organization with it.

Marketing messaging resonates with individuals when it speaks right to them. We want to get to know George. We want to understand what messages are going to appeal to him and what kind of inbound marketing content he is going to engage with.

We don't just arrive at these personas in a generic way. We work with clients to understand how they view the persona. We want to build your "George" out in a way that is familiar to you. I often ask clients to think about the last prospect or customer they sat down with. We use that person as a model for the persona build. Real life examples make it easier to get a feel for their psychographics (or behaviors) that motivate them to buy.

Building Your Own Buyer Personas

Here is a list of question you can ask that will put you on your way to creating better buyer personas and honing your target audience:

  • Basic psychographics: What are their values, what do they like, how does the product fit into their lives, how do they go about their daily routine, how do others influence them, what are their personalities, attitudes, lifestyles?
  • What are their big personal professional problems? What are their individual challenges at work?
  • What are their motivations and unmet needs? - How do they think and feel about the products they use and buy?
  • What do they think/feel/use the product/service for? 
    • To what extent are they aware of your organization?
    • Do they know about your products and services? 
    • Do they understand how the product/service works?
    • Do they understand your organization's superior qualities?
  • What are they guided by? 
    • Principle Oriented - guided by abstracts, idealized criteria, rather than by feelings, events or desire for approval by others.
    • Status Oriented - these consumers look for products and services that demonstrate their success to their peers.
    • Action Oriented - these consumers are guided by a desire for social or physical activity, variety, or risk taking.

This should give you a head start to better B2B content creation for your inbound marketing campaigns. Our team of inbound marketing experts can help guide you down the path toward remarkable B2B marketing content.

I help personally lead up many of TSL's persona builds and content marketing strategy sessions. Feel free to leave a comment here if you have any questions about building buyer personas.

You can also download our persona guide and reach out to one of our team members to talk about a digital marketing consultation.

Persona Workbook Download


Tags: SEO, Marketing Tips, Buyer Personas, advertising