layers_imageWhat’s the biggest mistake that you think B2B marketers make when it comes to content marketing? “They don’t get to know their customers well enough.” –Laura Ramos, Forrester

A deep understanding of your buyers is the first and most essential element to creating content that engages and ultimately converts them. Unfortunately, 60 to 70% of content created by B2B companies is never used. The primary reason for this: the content topic is not relevant to the buyer audience (29%). In fact, 60% of marketers say that their biggest challenge to creating buyer-centric content is a lack of buyer insight.

Forrester’s Laura Ramos says that B2B marketers are not “thinking about how to make it [content] connect with customers. There’s not a lot of effort spent on what customers care about, or on giving them value that’s going to serve their need.”

This is where buyer personas can help. Buyer personas are representations of the actual buyers influencing or making decisions about your solutions and are based on real people, insights, and experiences. Many marketers have created personas using basic, standard templates, but these do not give marketers the more in-depth knowledge they need to create compelling content.

As B2B buyer cycles become more complex, B2B marketers need more insightful buyer personas that are built around key persona attributes. A persona attribute is a characteristic that helps define a buyer persona, such as “primary need for a solution” and “buying criteria.” These personas will be the foundation to not just your content marketing strategy, but to all of your B2B marketing efforts. Insightful buyer personas influence everything from corporate messaging, to social media, to email marketing, to sales alignment, to lead nurturing and more.

So what comprises an awesomely robust, useful buyer persona?

To ensure that you approach creating your buyer personas in an effective, defined way, you need a framework that guides how you gather and organize your buyer information, and how you then build your buyer personas. Below is the framework 6 Essential Layers Comprising an Insightful Buyer Persona. Each layer within the framework is organized around persona attributes that yield critical buyer insights. Leveraging all of these layers is vital to building comprehensive buyer personas that bring significant value to not just the marketing team, but to your organization as a whole.

It’s important to note, however, that organizations can customize this framework based on their particular business needs or stage of persona development. They may have certain attributes they would like to add or remove, but generally most attributes will fit into one of these classes. The 6 Layers include:

Demographics

This layer provide the most basic information about the persona and includes the following attributes:

  • Title
  • Organization level
  • Department
  • Company size
  • Company geographical focus
  • Company industry

Goals & Initiatives

This layer provides a snapshot of the “day in the life” of the persona, including their day to day duties, to whom they report, and whether they manage a team. But it also highlights their challenges, their goals, what fears keep them up at night, and the risks associated with their jobs. You will learn what the buyer faces daily, which will have a direct impact on their buying process, how they evaluate a solution, and why they choose to take the leap and invest in a solution like yours. Attributes include:

  • Day to day business duties fulfilled and/or overseen
  • Evaluated based on
  • Report to/manage
  • Success metrics/KPIs
  • Current business challenges
  • Upcoming initiatives
  • Fears and risks
  • Language of the job

Solution Fit, Expectations & Concerns

This layer tells you why the buyer needs your solution and what additional benefits they desire. Even more, it digs into the specific results or outcomes they want to achieve – insights that are instrumental in guiding content that is focused, relevant, and able to persuade.

This layer will also inform you of buyer objections and concerns that cause your buyer to walk away. These concerns may come from the buyer himself, or from other influencers, recommenders, or deciders within the organization. And why do these concerns exist – prior experiences, or something they read or heard somewhere? Whether these concerns are true or false, you will learn who is blocking the purchase of your solution and why – arming you with the information you need to develop powerful content that addresses these objections head on. And while you may have been aware of some of these concerns, most you will likely hear for the first time. Attributes include:

  • Primary need for a solution
  • Additional desired benefits
  • Desired outcomes or results
  • Business triggers to look for a solution to purchase
  • Objections and concerns about the solution

Buying Criteria

This layer highlights what capabilities or features are most important to your buyers, why they’re the most critical, and why buyers chose one solution over another. You will no longer have to guess at which buyers care about which features/capabilities the most, so you can develop the right content and messaging for the right buyer. Attributes include:

  • Primary buying criteria, including capabilities/features that are the most critical and why
  • Solutions evaluated and differentiators that led to the purchase decision
  • Perceived limitations of solutions evaluated

Buying Process

This layer reveals the roles that specific titles within the organization have during the buying process. For example, which titles are influencers or deciders in the purchase of a solution like yours. You will learn just how many people are involved in the buying process and what they’re considering as they evaluate the solution. This information will reveal to you which audiences you need to consider in your content creation and sales enablement initiatives. Attributes include:

  • Role in the buying process (decider, influencer)
  • The deciders and influencers and how do they evaluate the solution

Buying Preferences

Your solution could be the perfect fit for your buyer, but engaging them the wrong way can kill the deal – fast. This class highlights what type of buying experience a buyer prefers, including communication, content format, and tone. Attributes include:

  • Preferred buying experience
  • Preferred content formats
  • Sources of information (blogs, pubs, shows, etc.)
  • Preferred means of communication during the sales process
  • Content tone that resonates

These attributes and layers will guide how you build your buyer personas, including the questions you ask sales and your customers. Developing and organizing your interview questions based on a framework aimed at gathering valuable insights, such as the 6 Essential Layers Comprising an Insightful Buyer Persona, ensures that questions serve a purpose, and that responses will be useful. Ultimately, this framework will ensure you have a comprehensive buyer persona that empowers you to create valuable, influential content.

 

 

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