How to create targeted buyer personas

Joe Sullivan by Joe Sullivan

How to create buyer personas

You know the industries you target. And you know the types of companies that buy from you. But have you truly identified the individuals within those companies who discover you and gather information from you?

And what about the individuals who ultimately make the buying decisions? Where do these people go for information? What do they value about a partner like your company? How much influence do they have in the buying process? Your customers are human beings – not companies. Each is different. Just as you talk differently to your best friend vs. your grandmother vs. your boss, you must talk differently to each member of your audience.

Identify your buyers

We can’t develop a marketing plan to target every single business prospect individually, but we can develop profiles that group together audience members who share common characteristics. These profiles are called buyer personas, and they allow us to cater our marketing approach to each group differently.

Identify your ideal audience members. Who are the types of individuals your business development team consistently pursues? Who are the individuals at their companies that are tasked with choosing vendors? Which individuals become advocates for hiring you within their companies? Which individuals push back and play Devil’s advocate? Who screens vendors, conducts extensive research and collects technical details? Who just wants the facts and intends to make a fast buying decision? Develop a list of these audience members that matter in the buying process. Then narrow it down to the three or four most important groups. Your persona list, for example, could look something like this:

  • The young innovator
  • The data-driven engineer
  • The purchasing agent
  • The CEO/ decision maker

These groups become your target audiences. Moving forward, your website, blog posts, white papers, case studies, video content, email newsletters, marketing automation campaigns and other marketing activities will now have human beings in mind as your team creates them. Better targeting means better marketing results.

Develop buyer persona profiles

After identifying the personas you’ll target, you’ll need a profile for each. The key members of your business development team – marketing and sales – should collaborate to develop these profiles. Once created, every individual involved in business development initiatives should become ultra-familiar with these profiles. The following list of questions will help you build out your personas. Answer the following questions in writing about each individual persona group.

  • What are common job titles for this persona?
  • What is this person’s level of authority or decision making power within the company?
  • Who are a few examples of existing clients that fit this persona?
  • What are the types of problems this particular person needs solved?
  • What kind of buying experience is he looking for? Detail driven? Fast and easy?
  • What does this person value the most about your company?
  • How much does he already know about your products/services?
  • Is a lot or a little bit of education needed to get him up to speed?
  • Where does he go to collect information? Online? Coworkers? Industry peers? Trade organizations?
  • How does this person usually discover you? Referral? If so, from who? Past work? Google searches? If online, what is he likely searching for?
  • In instances when you’re NOT hired by this person’s company, what do you think this individual’s objections to hiring you may have been?

Once complete, edit your persona profiles down, clean them up and get them into the hands of your entire business development team. Let your marketing and content strategy revolve around them.

This article is one short chapter from our Hardworking Inbound Marketing Guide for B2B Industrial Companies. Download the full guide below.



Joe Sullivan

Joe Sullivan

Joe is a founder of Gorilla 76. He was named as one of St. Louis’ “Top Young Entrepreneurs” by the Small Business Monthly and to the 2012 St. Louis Business Journal’s “30 Under 30” class. Passions include cooking, eating other people’s cooking, the Green Bay Packers, organizing, craft-beering and tag teaming Grace’s and Jack’s diaper changes with his wife, Julie. Joe is a dual-degreed graduate (business and art) of Washington University in St. Louis.

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