How to use B2B personas and messaging to help your brand get heard above the noise
“We are here, we are here, we are here, we are HERE!!!”
In the beloved children’s book “Horton Hears a Who” by Dr. Seuss, the Whos are assembled by their mayor to shout loudly in unison to prove their existence and their benefactor Horton’s sanity. Their shouting ultimately saves him from imprisonment and themselves from doom.
In today’s crowded and noisy marketplace, B2B brands often feel that they are in somewhat the same position as the Whos. Their survival depends on the world knowing they exist. They wonder “What’s the best way to get noticed?” “How do we get our company’s message heard?” Shouting louder often seems like the best way to achieve their objectives.
It may seem counter-intuitive, but by talking to fewer people, you are more likely to be heard by the ones that matter. By speaking more specifically to segments of your market, you are less likely to be tuned out and more likely to start conversations that lead to sales.
It is difficult to turn away clients. But your products and services are a better fit for some than others. B2B marketers have more success by strategically targeting their messaging towards their ideal scenarios. They get better results when they create copy and content geared specifically towards:
- The right accounts
- The right contacts in those accounts
- Crafting the right message
- Providing the content at the right time
The more often marketers get this right, the more they break from the noise and are actually heard. Think of someone running down the street, shouting “Hey, you!” While many might turn and look briefly, most will just as quickly turn away. If the same person shouted “Hey, John!” those named John would probably stay attentive a bit longer to see if they were the one being shouted at. A shout of “John Armstrong!” would gain longer attention from anyone in earshot named John Armstrong. That extended attention is necessary for any relationship to form, and relationships are an essential first step in every sales process.
The ICP, Ideal Client Profile: The Right Account
If your company doesn’t have a clearly defined ICP, creating one is an essential step towards improving your marketing. The ICP represents companies that are the right match for a company’s services and expertise. An honest look at your company’s client roster and a clear vision of your company’s desired direction will help home in on your ICP (or ICPs—many companies have more than one). ICPs are often defined by company size (employees, revenue, or both) and industry, and whether they are B2B or B2C. They can also be defined by characteristics like geography, how many locations they have, and whether they are a startup or an established company. The goal is to be able to use the ICP to find new clients who will be a great fit for your business.
Digital Reach has three ICPs. Our best-fit clients are funded startups, enterprises, and mega-enterprises, which we define as companies with revenue greater than $500M. These three ICPs share some additional characteristics: all are B2B companies in the SaaS/Technology industry. Beyond this, we have found that if a company is already using some marketing tech like Google Ads, Marketo, Pardot, Eloqua, Demandbase, Terminus, Triblio, Full Circle Insights, or Brightfunnel, they are more likely to benefit from our core services. If they are located in the San Francisco Bay Area (where we’re headquartered), that may also be a plus. Even though so much can be accomplished digitally, it is nice to meet clients face-to-face once in awhile.
B2B Personas – The Right Contacts
Once the ICP or ICPs are well-defined, determine the B2B Personas within those companies which you need to reach. While B2B companies sell to businesses, they need to persuade individuals to take a look at what they have to offer. Personas are ways of grouping prospects and clients by their unique experience. What do they care about? What is important for them? What words catch their eye?
It is common in B2B for multiple decision-makers and stakeholders to be involved in the buying process. Each will be considering the purchase from a slightly different point of view. Marketers should flesh out B2B personas for each of the roles you typically encounter in your sales process.
At Digital Reach, we have personas for Executives, Directors, and Managers. Executives who are concerned with our offerings will typically have the title of CEO, CMO, or CRO. They have a medium to high level of marketing knowledge but their interest is at a high level. They typically care about bottom-line results and high-level metrics. They are interested in our expertise and in strategy rather than specific tactics. They value proactivity by our team; they don’t have the time or interest for micro-managing.
Those in our Director buyer persona have titles like Director of Marketing or Director of Demand
Generation. They have a high degree of marketing knowledge. They are most concerned with hitting their numbers (quarterly KPIs) and impressing their executive team. They are interested in overall strategy and also the plan for getting there. On the relationship side, they connect with our team by sharing the pressure we are both under for campaigns to achieve strong results.
The Manager buyer persona for Digital Reach includes those with the title of Marketing Manager or others who don’t fit into Executive or Director personas. While this persona has some marketing knowledge, it is typically not as strategic as Executives or Directors. Those in this group are often recommenders who have maybe attended our webinars or downloaded our online resources. Their days are often spent putting out fires. Their main concerns are getting good results to show their Director, and above all, not making mistakes that might lead to the loss of their job.
Knowing what the different personas care about is key to creating messaging that resonates with their role. Managers might be swayed more by social proof whereas Directors might be more interested in case studies which document ROI numbers achieved for other clients.
The Buyer’s Journey – The Right Time
Recently, we delved into the Buyer’s Journey and how providing content strategically constructed for the different phases can help guide the buying team towards the only logical decision: working with you. There are a few different ways to describe these phases, but Digital Reach uses the following: Unaware / Awareness, Informational, Consideration, Buying, Using, and Advocating. These phases help understand the timeline of the sales process and how our content can play an important leadership role. Though some of the phases may be the responsibility of other departments like Sales or Account Management, it is typically Marketing which creates the messaging and materials to support them.
Matching Messages with a Messaging Matrix
Once you have identified ICPs and Buyer Personas, you can create a Messaging Matrix. We have given an example of a framework with three ICPs, three Buyer Personas, and six Buyer’s Journey phases. Picture two Rubik’s Cubes side by side… maybe not. Let’s stick to two dimensions and illustrate this matrix with a table instead. By cycling through each ICP and Persona through the different phases of the Buyer’s Journey, marketers can create and share messaging that is highly targeted toward each recipient. It becomes easier to match messages to each person’s interest.
You can massively grow ROI with a multidisciplinary approach
Read our latest blog: “Combine Marketing Automation with SEM strategy to smash revenue goals”
Here’s a case study of how a similar SaaS startup smashed their revenue goals.
Marketers get a lot of value from creating this type of document and sharing it with anyone and everyone in the company who uses words to communicate with prospects and clients, including Sales and Account Management departments. It is difficult if not impossible to audit conversations and individual emails to make sure they are staying “on brand” and helping to drive the sales process, but having this reference material available can help everyone stay on the same page. If your internal marketing team works with agencies or freelancers, sharing ICPs, buyer personas, and your messaging matrix with them will help them to understand your company and its needs more quickly.
Though spreading your company’s message more loudly and broadly might make sense, to be heard by those who really count, it is important to create very targeted messaging for each ICP, buyer persona, and phase of the buyer’s journey. It takes time to identify and flesh out these personas, but it is a wise investment, because this information can be used to effectively guide all prospect- and client-facing activity, both internally and externally.
If you need help with content strategy or using marketing technology to segment your lists and deliver the right messaging at the right time, please contact us today!