Creating buyer personas is an essential first step in any solid B2B inbound marketing strategy. Getting to know your buyers helps you create the most helpful content that connects with the people you’re trying to reach. But, are you focused on the wrong people in your current buyers personas? Inaccurate buyer personas ultimately lead to content that resonates with no one.
The Real Buyer Persona Is The Online Researcher
In March 2015, Google and Millward Brown Digital released a study evaluating the state of B2B marketing, which revealed that there have been major shifts not only how B2B buying decisions are made, but who is making them.
A common misconception is that B2B marketing should target the highest-level executives. Today, many B2B researchers outside of the c-suite are influential to purchasing decisions. And, increasingly they are Millennials (born from 1980-to the early 2000s), the oldest of which are now in their early 30s. The Google study revealed that as recently as 2012, the demographics for B2B researchers were fairly evenly spread across age groups. Jump to 2014, and 18-34 year olds accounted for almost half of online researchers.
Think about it. Who are the most important people involved not only in the buying or decision making process, but from the very beginning of the research and prospecting phase? Many companies make the mistake of identifying their buyers as only the C-Suite. But is the CEO or CFO the one hitting Google to search for solutions? The CEO may identify the challenge and be the financial decision maker, but the research phase is commonly someone else’s responsibility.
The Google study also showed that while 64% of the C-Suite have final sign-off, so do 24% of the non-C-Suite. And, 84% of those not at the C-level have some level of influence in purchase decisions. So, if you’re marketing to only the highest level, you’re completely ignoring the people who are actually looking for you.
In her book Buyer Personas, Adele Revella, Founder of the Buyer Persona Institute supports the idea of the non-C-Suite persona for interview and development purposes. In the book she says:
“The more senior the buyer, the less likely that person will be to be able to provide important details about how the final outcome came to pass. Add this to the difficulty of scheduling any extended time with the senor C-Suite level executives, and you can see why we don’t often recommend that you interview the economic buyer.”
Time To Revisit Your Buyer Personas?
Identifying your true buyer personas upfront will save a lot of time and effort in the long run. We’ve worked with several companies that were certain who their personas were. But, after several rounds of investigations and interviews with their internal and external experts, they were all wrong about who their primary personas actually are.
As an example, one time a new client was sure that one of their top personas was the CIO of a particular type of company. Once we got into the investigation process, we identified that the CIO was the final decision maker for implementing new technology, but is not the one vetting companies or seeking the actual solutions. There was someone in the middle of that process who was the researcher, and the key persona to target with great content. This realization changed their entire marketing approach and our impacted content marketing and inbound strategy.
Remember, your content is not just for the signer of the check, but for the person researching and prospecting your products and services as a solution to their needs.
Want to know more about how to determine, develop and deploy buyer personas for a stronger content and inbound marketing strategy? Check out our new download.