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Using Personas in B2B Marketing

Last updated on September 16th, 2016 at 12:48 pm

The phrase “Business to Business Marketing” can sound corporate, stiff, and unwelcoming. It may even bring up images of overly-long meetings where good ideas get weighed down by the amount of decision makers and are suffocated by red tape and slow approval processes. Marketing to a “business” can sound like you’re marketing to the physical office building or brand logo. What about the people?

You’re a human, likely sitting behind a computer or phone. Guess what? Those businesses that you’re trying to market to are absolutely full of humans, as well. It may sound overly basic, but it gets forgotten far too often when planning quarterly strategies with goals to increase margins by X%. This is where using personas comes in.

What is a Buyer Persona?

Hubspot defines a buyer persona as “a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers.” For B2C, that means sending out all sorts of surveys and collecting data to come up with 3 or 4 typical customers. You’ll often give them fake names, jobs, families, hobbies, and more. For an example, check out this one from Buffer:


The idea is to get to know your customers and get a better idea of what they’re looking for. It can work wonders for B2C, but how about B2B?

B2C Personas vs B2B

For B2B persona marketing to work, you need to figure out just who you’re marketing to, since a business is made up of a lot of different types of people. Is your material going to be read by the owner of a small business, or a lower-level employee at a large corporation? These are going to be people with vastly different buying techniques, so if you want to reach them, you need to market to them separately.

With B2C persona marketing, you’ll need to dive deep in order to figure out their buying habits. For B2B, the most important question you can ask is “why would they buy my product or service?” Are these employees who would present your product in order to impress their boss, or are they the bosses themselves?

Do’s and Don’ts

Once you’ve decided to take persona marketing seriously, it’s time to start the planning. Don’t get too carried away though… one of the biggest mistakes you can make is to have too many personas. Figure out everybody you could be marketing to, and then narrow it down to the 3 or 4 most important. When you’re done, you want to have a person who seems like they’re somebody you usually do business with.

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that everybody is just like you. Just because you think quality is the most important factor doesn’t mean that your target buyer isn’t putting price first. You might also make the mistake of highlighting the fact that you do everything locally to someone who is more concerned about getting the most energy efficient and sustainable solution.  The proper persona marketing research can help you make sure you’re sending the right message to the right people.

Finishing the Job

Now that you’ve collected your data and created some rock-solid personas, it’s time to call it a day, right? Unfortunately, this is a mistake that many marketers make far too often. A great set of personas is useless if it sits around collecting dust. You need to use it as the basis for all of your marketing.

Set up progression paths that lead different personas down different funnels. Make sure there are ways to help them grow from leads into sales. Then most importantly, track your results. Your persona marketing can never improve if you have no idea what’s working and what’s not. Track everything so you can find out which ones are buying and which ones need a different strategy.

Persona marketing for B2B can be a daunting task to set up, launch, and track. But in doing so, you’ll find out just who your customer is and how you can market to them better than ever.


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Scott Wilson
Scott Wilson
Scott Wilson is a writer and small business owner from central Pennsylvania who covers internet marketing of all types. In his free time you can find him taste-testing baked goods and spending time with his family. Find him on Twitter @ScottTheWilson.