As a sales or marketing executive for a building products company, you know your customer segments by heart—distributors, builders, contractors, remodelers, architects, designers, facilities managers, property managers, industry consultants and others. Each group is familiar to you as a “target” for your product or service category. You might even have some insights into these segments based on research from a third party, like a media company partner.
So, why do you need customer personas?
Because, while you may know about each of these customer segments in a general way, what you likely do not know is what motivates them specifically. For example, in the buyer’s journey of an architect-specifier, why would your company, product or service rise to a level of interest that might prompt action—like a visit to your website, a call or meeting request, an RFP or an order? What might motivate that? And what type of content would need to be available to engage with that architect-specifier in order for them to continue some level of contact as they move along the journey continuum?
Here’s where customer personas come in. More than defining a generic “target audience,” customer personas are like a portrait that provides a detailed picture of exactly who has a need for your product– and how best to engage them. Done right, personas can help you identify and reach key segments by focusing on why and how and when they make decisions.
Knowing that can tell you…
- How to appeal to your customer’s specific needs in a way that is differentiated from your competition…
- How your targets make decisions at each point on their journey…
- Where and when to find them so they not only hear your message – but also find it meaningful.
As important is the opportunity for marketing and sales to align around these customer definitions. Then, the ability to fill the funnel with qualified leads is that much stronger.
What makes an ideal customer persona?
Of course there are the basic attributes that we’re all familiar with but there are also some deeper questions that, with insightful answers, can help you really fine-tune your messaging.
When you’re armed with this detailed knowledge, marketing can provide insights to sales about effective tactics. In this way, you can even create conversation starters for your sales team to use that show potential customers that you understand what they’re looking for and how your product or service fits their specific needs.
As just one example—perhaps your customers are regional homebuilders. Persona research may uncover a rational and emotional trigger around on-time delivery and the related impact that has on business reputation. This could apply to products going into the build and the delivery of the finished home to the new owner.
If you’re a manufacturer or distributor selling to these kinds of builders, your sales and marketing teams message to that challenge—that you not only “get it” but that you have solved for it, and here’s how. You make that argument early enough in the buyer’s journey so that your buyer/customer—the builder—sees it in their research, has already seen messaging in advertising or other materials and knows beyond a doubt that your company is solving for what they view as a major issue. They visit your booth at IBS to hear from your reps in person, check out the product, make some notes and begin their contact, moving from a marketing qualified lead (MQL) to a sales qualified lead (SQL).
- You MUST work closely with your sales team and define what it is you both want to know…and why.
- Your audiences are complex human beings, not just “buyers.”
- The personas should be used as a “north star” to align and focus marketing and sales on the ways each team can make the greatest impact.
Sure, there’s a lot more to it. So, if you’re looking for help developing specific targeted personas, please feel free to contact us or email Doug Davila, email@example.com, our SVP for Agency Strategy and Development. We’re ready to help. And here’s a short video to get you started.