Inbound marketing is customer-centric: your target audience is at the heart of everything you do. Therefore, you need to understand that audience – and one of the best ways to do that is to create B2B buyer personas.
Buyer personas represent the people that matter to your business. HubSpot defines them as "fictional, generalised characters that encompass the various needs, goals, and observed behaviour patterns among your real and potential customers".
Your buyer personas should inform your entire inbound marketing strategy. Without them, your campaigns and messaging could be completely missing the mark. So, how can you make certain that you're effectively prioritising your B2B buyer personas?
Do your research
Creating buyer personas isn't easy and you should expect it to take a significant amount of time to get right. While you may already possess a lot of internal knowledge about your target audience, you will likely also discover gaps in your understanding as you delve deeper.
To create a more complete view, you might carry out detailed research about your market and, also, talk to your current customers. For instance, you could ask them to fill out a survey or interview them (in person or over the phone), to find out more about their specific concerns and needs.
The more care you take honing and perfecting your buyer personas, the more likely they will hit the mark.
Review and refine
It's important to document your buyer personas and share this information with the relevant people within your business. However, it is also vital to remember that your buyer personas shouldn't be static – you should review them on a regular basis, to ensure they are still up-to-date. For example, over time, you might discover that a decision criterion you thought was really important is actually only a secondary consideration in the buyer's journey.
In this way, each time that you plan a campaign or create a piece of content, you can be confident that you are accurately answering the questions and solving the problems of your target audience.
Benefits, not features
One of the best ways to ensure you put your buyer personas first when creating content is to emphasise the benefits of your products or services rather than their features – that is to say, how will your target audience gain from making a purchase?
If you're struggling to identify the features of your products or services, Aja Frost, writing for HubSpot, provides this advice: "The easiest way to tell if something is a feature or benefit is to ask yourself how universal it is.
"Features are generic, while benefits are personalised. If something is a feature, every customer can take advantage of it. A benefit, on the other hand, usually applies to a specific subset of customers - sometimes, a single customer."
Each "subset of customers", of course, relates to a buyer persona. So, whether you have one or 10, you should be thinking about how you can engage with them and show them that your organisation is the best fit for their needs.
Don't go overboard
As you focus on keeping your B2B buyer personas at the forefront of your mind, it can be tempting to think that more is better. However, this is not necessarily the case – and you certainly don't need individual personas for every type of person within your target audience.
Writing for Content Marketing Institute (CMI), Adele Revella says: "I am often asked how many buyer personas are required. This is the wrong question. Instead, you want to know how many ways you need to market your solution to persuade buyers that your approach is suited to their needs. Buyer personas must make it easy to know when a different version of your story will result in more business for the company."
So, ensure that each one of your personas adds value in terms of generating leads and driving business. And, if a particular buyer persona has become less relevant, don't be afraid to scale down your efforts in this area and ramp up the gears elsewhere.
Your B2B buyer personas should guide and influence your inbound marketing strategy - after all, if you're not targeting the right people, then you're essentially wasting your time. Putting your buyer personas first means investing the time and effort to ensure they're thorough and accurate, reviewing them on a regular basis, creating content that solves for their pain, and keeping in mind that, sometimes, less is more.