In B2B sectors, it's critical that marketers define and understand their target personas. Unlike mass market B2C industries—e.g. retail, CPGs, healthcare, etc.—B2B marketing aims to attract the right leads, not just anybody who comes along. So, while personas are important for all areas of marketing, B2Bers have more impetus than anybody to get them right and use them properly.
In inbound marketing, persona targetting is more than a good reference point for marketers; it's a startegy that guides actual marketing tactics. For instance, if you establish that your company sells to 5 target personas, you should commit to directing all online content, ads, and any other promotional tactics to those 5 personas. That might seem obviously logical, but our experience is that many marketers end up creating campaigns that don't effectively "speak" to their personas. Often in writing and visual media, they appeal more to their competitors or end users than the target persona.
So, how do you make sure your marketing campaigns address ideal customer needs and attract the right leads? In this article, I'll outline three ways to connect with your target personas using the most important inbound tactic: the blog.
Identify Personas' Questions
The way we tend to explain writing for personas is a three step process:
- Identify the persona characteristics.
- Research and approximate persona characteristics into a list of questions they have during their research and evaluation process.
- Translate the persona's buyer journey questions into relevant, answer-focused blog topics.
While this process may seem straightforward, the challenge for marketers is to also identify which questions are being asked at what point in a buyer's journey toward the sale. Overall, a blog is meant to attract new leads by answering their early questions. If your blog is full of headlines like "Why Buy from Us?" or "Us vs. Our Competitors," then it's not education-oriented, and you'll have a very difficult time drawing in organic inbound leads.
Name Your Personas' Characteristics in the Headline
The more specific your content is, the more the right leads will pay attention. While we don't suggest writing all of your blog content with your personas' characteristics called out in the headline, it can be a very powerful way of attracting attention and boosting social sharing in a specific sector.
Depending on what you sell, your personas may be strongly focused on a kind of company role/job title, or if you're like us, the most important characteristic is company industry.
Examples of this kind of blog writing from Weidert Group, based on our personas are:
Sometimes, we also write to specific job titles contained within our persona characteristics. For example, not long ago, I wrote a blog article empathizing with marketing managers who often have to delegate upward to their boss and other superiors.
Write Using the Right Language
One of the most common issues in B2B service sectors is that marketers are sometimes unfamiliar with the jargon and language of their target personas. For instance, financial service companies, such as business banks, sometimes want to focus on attracting leads from a specific category, like industrial manufacturing, but they struggle to do so because the language the financial services company uses is sometimes far different than that of the industry they're trying to attract.
If you imagine a business manager at an original equipment manufactuer (OEM) trying to explore new options for insurance, then his search might be something like "specialized insurance options for OEM." The problem is, too many insurance companies fail to target specific verticals like OEM, and they opt for broader categories, like "manufacturing." While the insurance company might not want to seem too focused, they should at least use specific language in a few blog posts so that they attract more organic traffic from search.
Find Comfort in Precise Targeting
Overall, the key to targeting your personas is to be comfortable targeting at all in your marketing plans. A major flaw in marketing teams today is that they're afraid to maintain focus and direct their messaging at the most relevant audience possible: their personas. You don't have to be a complete specialist to have effective persona targeting, you just have to make sure that you answer future customers' real questions and attract their attention by making sure they understand that you know their business.