Bringing Some Personality To B2B Marketing
Every customer is a human being. Not exactly an earth-shattering proclamation, is it? Yet for marketers that simple phrase can serve as a useful reminder – particularly in an era of data-rich programmatic strategies. And one of the best ways to reinforce this fact is to consistently think about customers in human terms.
Not coincidentally B2C marketers have long used richly detailed Customer Personas (Personas) to help bring their customers to life. Thinking about customers at the individual level, rather than simply assessing audiences at the group level, helps marketers better understand just who their customer really is – a living, breathing, relatable human being with real motivations and emotions.
But what about applying Personas to B2B markets? After all, B2B customers are humans too – and just as deserving of human empathy, right? More than nameless, faceless representatives working on behalf of their company’s objectives, B2B customers too have personal motivations and emotions that can influence how they approach purchasing and partnering decisions. By digging a level deeper to understand what those individual drivers are marketers can unlock key insights that will inform effective account-based marketing strategies. Read on to learn about one way Jackson Spalding develops these nuanced Personas and how these insights can help your B2B marketing efforts going forward.
The standard research playbook that generates those richly textured Personas used by B2C marketers is robust, often involving both quantitative surveys and qualitative focus groups. On top of that, the number of participants for the quantitative surveys will often exceed four digits in order to attain statistical significance. Clearly these types of instruments and this level of participation is unrealistic in just about any B2B category.
The good news is that while traditional quantitative methods may be impractical, B2B customers often telegraph their attitudes, values, and priorities in ways that no B2C customer would. Consider for a moment all the revealing insights contained in a standard request for proposal (RFP). What questions is the prospect asking? What marketplace dynamics are they highlighting? How much weight are they giving to each section? Beyond the RFP itself, who won the bid? And better yet, why did your B2B business win or lose?
With this baseline understanding established we can now turn to the qualitative side of the discovery process. And while in-depth interviews (IDIs) can be effective tools for unlocking insights in B2B markets, there is another, more easily reached group that can provide invaluable insights into your customer’s mindset. That group, of course, is your internal sales and marketing teams.
In our experience these team members are likely to understand your prospects at that more human level - beyond what the business objectives reflected in the RFPs can tell us. How do they view this relationship as supporting their career goals? What are their personal objectives and what impact does this purchasing decision have on those aims? What keeps them up at night? The answers to many of these questions can be efficiently mined through a well-structured workshop with your sales and marketing team members.
By then stitching together the information contained in the RFPs with the anecdotes shared by your internal team your B2B Personas will begin to emerge. Generic data points will begin to morph into relatable people - infused with the humanity that invites an empathetic marketing approach and informs your account-based marketing programs. So while addressing the well-understood business needs will always be the critical step in delivering a competitive B2B proposal, an extra level of human understanding may end up being the difference between winning an account and just missing out.
For more information on how Personas can support your B2B marketing efforts we invite you to connect with a member of our Brand Strategy Team. We’d love to help bring some personality to your customers.