Financially Responsible Marketing

Build buyer personas for a higher ROI on your B2B marketing

Posted by on Apr 26, 2017

B2B marketing buyer journey starts here

Turning a B2B prospect into a customer is not a simple process. It takes time to cultivate the relationship and build the necessary trust.

Before a prospect becomes a customer, in most instances, you will have met virtually or in-person. Possibly presenting a deck that speaks to the offering you have, and how it will help them solve their problem.

But before that happens, you have to do the marketing.

Make them aware you exist.

Help them understand how you can help them solve their issues.

Become the Advil to their headaches.

And in order to do this, you must find them. That way, you can start building your relationship even before you have that first conversation. So that first conversation starts at a higher, warmer level, almost as if you’d had a personal intro.

But before you can find them, you need to know and visualize who you’re looking for. And this is where personas come in.

What is a buyer persona?

A buyer persona is a composite sketch of a key segment of your audience – a personification of your ideal customer. And I mean personification!

For example, your business may have personas named Tom the Techie, Annie the Analyst and Ivan the Idealist. You’ll know that ‘Tom:’

  • Likes to get deep into the technical details of the tools he uses; prides himself on using his digital tools in innovative ways
  • Follows blogs and trade magazines that cover innovation in his field
  • Is dismissive of any marketing that doesn’t include either deep technical specs or a real customer story.

You get the picture. These are sketches that your team relates to, refers to by name, and reaches out to “individually” as you build the buyer journey.

How do you build your buyer personas?

Begin by defining what kind of persona you need to create. Influencer? Decision-maker? Buyer, user, gatekeeper?

In B2B, most decisions are made by committee, so you need to think about the persona for each member of the decision-making process. Often, you will end up reaching out to several distinct personas.

Next, define exactly what information you need

You’ve defined who you want to reach. Now, how do you know what information you need?

Think of what parameters you’ll use to market to a buyer. These could include job title, responsibilities, likes/dislikes, frustrations, pain points, needs, role in the buying process, and what drives them.

The more information you collect, the more specific you can be in your key messages. And specificity wins! Start by identifying key points in your existing customers; figure out what best describes them. After that, you can create a secondary list of attributes which will help close the gap between you and the potential customer.

A few tips on where to find the information you’ll need:

  • Gather as much as you can from existing customers.
  • Pull info from the whole team (not just marketing and sales) including anyone who at any time has contact with the customer. Look for information on where your customers get their news and information, their hobbies, their level of customer literacy, and even things they have actually said.
  • Try social media listening (searching the web and the social space to see what’s being said about your company, your competitors and other topics of interest).
  • Use your site analytics. They’ll tell you where your visitors came from, what keywords they used to find you, and where they spend time on your site.

This post isn’t about the finer details of creating a persona; if you’re looking to do that, I recommend you start by googling “B2B buyer persona template.” A template gives structure and guidance to the process of building your buyer personas.

Once you’ve got personas to work with, you’re visualizing the groups you actually need to reach.

Now, map out the buyer journey based on persona

Customers entering the buyer journeyNow you have decisions to make as to how to market to your key groups.

And more decisions with each passing day! Marketing tools and channels continue to evolve at light speed; over the past few years, more and more have arisen.

Which ones will you choose to funnel your prospect into your purchasing process? As a marketer in a digital world, you need to stay up to date and choose the best options to inform and entertain your potential buyers. Here are a few (very) broad guidelines:

  • At the top of the funnel, entertaining, informative buyer-focused content wins attention and trust. Examples: video, e-zines,newsletters
  • In the middle, content must engage the buyer and nurture them towards a purchase. Examples: white papers, blogs, case studies
  • At the bottom, your sales team use buyer-focused content to reinforce the trust that was built in the early- and middle-funnel stages (more on this in a moment) and enable the buyer to make the confident leap to purchase. Examples: sales materials of all stripes, including case studies (it is natural that content may overlap each stage in the funnel to reinforce the messages)

Mapping out the buyer journey helps build the tactics that will help you connect at each touchpoint with the potential buyer.

Arm yourself to make marketing decisions that deliver a higher ROI

You won’t always know when a potential buyer starts the journey. And each buyer’s journey is different, so that journey rarely follows a neat or predictable path.
But be forewarned! Studies show that a potential buyer tends to make the for-or-against brand decision early on. And if that decision goes against, your sales people won’t even be in the running. To put it another way, your messaging in the early and middle stages of the funnel can build or kill opportunity.


  • the more your marketing is strategic,
  • the more it’s precise,
  • the farther it is from guesswork (“Let’s try this great new marketing tool/channel this time, I heard it worked for XYZ!”)

…the higher your marketing ROI will be.


Go forth and build your B2B buyer personas, each one based on the best information you can find. This will prepare you to create the best opportunities for your potential buyer to find you, learn about you, build trust with you … and eventually, buy from you.