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B2B marketing personas need to be used to be effective

B2B marketing can substantially benefit from using personas. These profiles are meant to represent the ideal buyer, which can include businesses as well as individuals working for them. From these, a company can understand how their purchasers think and function, and how they would react to the products and services being offered. They can help companies create the messaging necessary to reach the intended audience. However, these personas are only effective when companies actually use them. In order for a firm to be successful in marketing, harnessing the persona in order to create effective content is essential.

Now what?
The most significant problem that faces B2B marketers today with personas is not creating them but using them for campaigns. Often, the question being asked by marketing teams is not if the persona accurately reflects the intended audience, but what to do with it once they're done making it. They often don't see how marketing personas fit into the overall strategies they're creating and mothball them as a result. That wastes everyone's time, since the marketer now has something very powerful that he or she doesn't give any purpose.

The first step is to actually use the personas as part of the messaging portion of the strategy (1). By creating these profiles, you already have an idea of which products interest the buyer. So creating messages that only target that aspect of their interest will drive them away. Instead, the focus should be on what problems the businesses that these personas represent may have. These concerns are what would draw them to the goods in the first place. Spending time figuring out these issues that would cause someone to look up a given item is very important. By creating a persona, a marketer can step into the shoes of the buyer and figure out what exactly this business is looking for. That in turn provides the ideal message to deliver to both purchaser and business in order to get them to consider being a client.

Of course, it's important to note that this only works when creating new content. Re-purposing previous content to fit the persona doesn't make much sense, since that information was designed to cater to larger audience as a whole.

Complexities and intensities
There is another problem often associated with not using personas is that when it comes to actually deploying them in a strategy, marketers come to realize that the profiles don't really fit the situation (2). In addition, in attempting to make their personas real, they often focus too much on minor details that tend to be irrelevant for them. For example, in a B2B setting, marketers may focus too much on what kind of office space the persona works, or if their employees commute by car or public transit.

If the persona doesn't match with the reality of each complex marketing situation, perhaps the solution lies in restructuring it around whatever specific areas of the business a product is supposed to address. For example, if the service being offered is intended to become more efficient, a marketer should be looking at key performance indicators related to productivity and efficiency. If it's offering better services, the metrics should be in what services are already being provided.

The questions that each profile should be to answer prior to use should be centered around changes. For example, how do the businesses in question go about making adjustments to operations? Is change management required just to complete certain processes? When they can be answered, the result is that any situation can be answered effectively, yielding a consistent message overall.

1. I've Built My Buyer Personas, Now What?

2. Why Marketers Are Keeping B2B Buyer Personas In the Closet

Sheila Kloefkorn

With more than 25 years of hands on marketing strategy and operations experience, Sheila Kloefkorn is dedicated to developing marketing strategies and plans that help clients succeed. Some of the world's largest brands have depended on Sheila for marketing programs that delivered tangible and substantial results. Specialties: B2B marketing, lead generation, lead nurturing, sales strategy, marketing strategy, competitive marketing strategy, social media, search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM), mobile marketing, email marketing, website design, marketing plans.