A Guide to B2B Buyer Personas
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How to Create Buyer Personas: A Guide for B2B Companies

How well do you know your buyers?

Successful B2B marketing and sales strategies take their audience into account—and in today’s oversaturated, crowded B2B landscape, understanding your buyers is more important than ever if you want to stand apart from the competition, resonate with customers, and achieve your growth goals.

Buyer personas are a tried-and-true way to dive deep into your prospects, and they’re the best tool for actually understanding the people in your target audience. These fictionalized profiles can help you learn what makes your buyers tick, how they make purchasing decisions, and why your products or services are the best fit for their needs.

But buyer personas aren’t a guessing game; you can’t create them based on assumptions. Creating accurate and detailed buyer personas requires careful audience research, thorough planning, and a strong strategy.

What Are Buyer Personas?

A buyer persona, also known as a customer persona or an audience persona, is a semi-fictional portrayal of someone in your target audience. It provides a detailed profile of the type of person who is most likely to benefit from your product or service and includes information like demographics, motivations, habits, and pain points.

It’s important to keep in mind that buyer personas are highly specialized. Effective B2B marketing and sales rely on multiple buyer personas, and each one should represent a specific segment of your overall target audience.

What Are Negative Buyer Personas?

If a buyer persona represents your ideal buyer, a negative buyer persona represents someone you don’t want as a customer.

Negative buyer personas profile demographics, behaviors, expectations, and habits that disqualify someone from being a good fit for your product or service. They make it easy for B2B marketers and sales representatives to stop wasting time and resources on “bad apples” that won’t lead to a purchase.

What Is the Difference Between Buyer Personas & Ideal Customer Profiles (ICPs)?

Both buyer personas and ICPs help you understand and segment your audience, but these tools go about it in different ways.

Ideal Customer Profiles

ICPs describe a fictional organization that possesses the characteristics—industry, location, company size, budget, pain points, etc.—that make it a good fit for your B2B offering. These profiles can help you qualify leads and dedicate sales resources more accurately, ensuring sales representatives target companies that are a suitable match.

Buyer Personas

Buyer personas focus on the person within a target organization who has the power to make purchasing decisions. While ICPs detail the business itself, buyer personas depict the individuals your sales representatives will actually contact.

Why Buyer Personas Are Essential to B2B Businesses

All B2B businesses need buyer personas.

That’s right: Every single one.

Why? Because these invaluable tools serve as a compass that guides all marketing and sales strategies across a company.

Let’s explore some of the other benefits of buyer personas for B2B companies.

Understand Your Target Audience

Creating accurate and nuanced buyer personas requires deep audience research. As you investigate databases, conduct interviews, share surveys, and host focus groups, you will collect a wealth of information about your target audience—helping your company learn more about your buyers than ever before.

Improve Brand Positioning

When you know the pain points, challenges, and purchasing behaviors of your buyers, you can better explain how your company and offering are the ideal solution to their problems. By building a reputation as the solution for their specific issue, you can better position your brand as the go-to.

Enhance the Customer Experience

Based on buyer personas, you can create more relatable, relevant, and engaging marketing messages, social media copy, website content, and more—all of which contribute to an enhanced customer experience.

Align Go-to-Market Teams

A successful buyer persona is a collaborative effort among all go-to-market teams: product, marketing, sales, and customer success. Members from each of these teams have helpful insights to contribute during the development process, and when the buyer personas are finished, all go-to-market teams will have access to and be aligned under the same audience research.

Personalize & Tailor Marketing

Developing buyer personas makes it easier for you to tailor and personalize content and messaging that appeals to different audience segments. A buyer persona provides information about buyers’ preferred channels, messaging, expectations and more, helping your team create messaging that truly resonates.

Inform Product or Service Development

The impact of buyer personas is not limited to marketing and sales. In fact, the product or service development team can also use the insights from detailed audience research and buyer personas to guide the research and development process. Up-to-date buyer personas provide the information your team needs to improve your offering and better serve your customers.

Convert More Leads

Solid buyer personas equip your sales representatives with precise, accurate insights into the wants, needs, motivations, habits, and expectations of your buyers. With this information guiding the lead conversion process, conversion rates will be higher than ever.

What Are the Key Components of a Buyer Persona?

A strong buyer persona includes a lot of different information about your customer, from demographics, motivations, and behaviors to pain points, concerns, and goals. These components can be split into four main categories, so be sure to include all these components in your B2B buyer personas.

Demographic Information

Buyer personas should include demographic information such as age, gender, job title, company name, industry, company size, geographic location, and more to provide context about the persona’s professional background.

Psychological Profile

Understanding what drives a persona is crucial information for B2B organizations, so be sure to investigate goals, challenges, values, fears, motivations, etc.—anything that could help describe their state of mind.

Behavioral Characteristics

Important behavioral characteristics include how the person acts—with your brand, with your competitors, when making decisions, and when (and where) spending time online.

Decision-Making Attributes

Explore how the persona makes decisions, including information such as their key decision drivers, the barriers they face when making decisions, their role in the decision-making process, and other stakeholders they have to involve before deciding on whether to purchase your offering.

key components of a buyer persona

How Many Buyer Personas Do I Need for B2B Marketing?

When it comes to buyer personas, there’s no magic number or threshold you need to reach. Most B2B organizations use between three and eight personas for marketing purposes, and at least two is the recommended minimum; otherwise, aim to have a persona for each segment of your audience.

Keep in mind that too many buyer personas can be overwhelming. If, as you’re developing buyer personas, you have two that feature similar behaviors, goals, or pain points, consider merging them into one comprehensive buyer persona.

How to Create Buyer Personas: 6 Steps to Follow

Follow these steps to create effective, informative, and insightful buyer personas for your B2B brand.

1. Build a Buyer Persona Team

Identify the team members who will have a role in developing your buyer personas. Choose at least one representative from every go-to-market team or relevant department, especially marketing and sales. Additionally, include a member of the executive team who will ensure your buyer personas align with the organization’s overall mission, values, and brand.

2. Conduct Qualitative & Quantitative Audience Research

Don’t make assumptions about your buyers. Instead, conduct qualitative and quantitative research to dig deeper into the behavior and motivation of your buyers.

Gather information and insights by sharing questionnaires with current customers, interviewing clients, creating audience surveys, hosting focus groups, practicing social listening, and getting feedback from customer-facing teams. Additionally, explore internal databases like your customer relationship management (CRM) platform and account-based marketing (ABM) tool to get more insights into customer behaviors and preferences.

With these tools and approaches, you can start to explain what your buyers want and what makes them tick.

3. Analyze the Data & Gather Insights

Once you have collected an abundance of rich data, you and your buyer persona team can start to analyze the results and draw meaningful insights. Together, your analysis will reveal trends and patterns that you can use as a foundation for your buyer personas.

Start by organizing data along the following parameters:

  • Job title and major responsibilities
  • Company size, type, industry, and growth stage
  • Major pain points that can be addressed by your products or services
  • Primary motivations that would guide them to choose your brand over your competitors
  • Budget, timeline, and purchasing intent

Approach this process as a team, as each member will offer a new perspective on the data.

4. Bring Your Personas to Life

With a wealth of data and useful insights, it’s time to compile your buyer personas.

Include as much information as possible to bring your personas to life:

  • Age
  • Location
  • Annual income
  • Highest level of education
  • Job title
  • Decision-making power
  • Goals
  • Pain points
  • Values
  • Motivations

This information will help you build a profile for each key audience segment.

Don’t forget to give your buyer personas a name and design an avatar for each profile to help make them seem like real people.

5. Share Personas Across Departments

When your buyer personas are complete (for now), it’s essential to share them with all go-to-market team members so everyone can use them as a guide to connecting with your target audience. Make sure your product, marketing, sales, and customer success departments have your buyer personas on hand and understand how to take full advantage of the insights they have to offer.

6. Create a Workflow for Reviewing & Updating Personas

The expectations, habits, and purchasing behaviors of B2B buyers are constantly evolving. To keep up with changing customer demands, you should regularly update your buyer personas.

Create a workflow to consistently review existing buyer personas, conduct additional audience research, and update them based on changes in the market. It’s the best way to ensure your buyer personas are accurate, relevant, and up to date.

Conclusion

When they’re done right, buyer personas will guide your overall marketing and sales strategy, inform brand messaging, impact every aspect of the customer experience, and lead to growth opportunities for your brand.

At OneIMS, we know about the power of buyer personas—and how a data-driven, audience-centered digital marketing strategy can transform your B2B business. Want to learn more? We’re ready to partner with you.

Schedule a consultation with us today to get started.

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Written By Samuel Thimothy

As the Chief Growth Officer, I provide leadership, direction and resource stewardship to the organization’s sales and marketing function. I also collaborate with our digital marketing strategy team in developing and executing growth marketing campaigns for our loyal clients.

Solomon Thimothy - OneIMS CEO

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