Personas have long been a staple of digital marketing. Personas are defined as examples of the real-life buyers who influence or make decisions about the products or services a company provides. They make the abstract real.
In web design, for example, personas are created as a way to gain a clear understanding of the people who will be coming to a website. These personas are collections not just of user demographics (age, gender, location), but also traits and behaviors, expectations, motivations, even intellectual and emotional states of being.
Personas help keep the visual designers, information architects, content creators and programmers focused on the needs of site visitors. Without personas, everything becomes guesswork.
Personas Are Essential for Marketing Automation
Personas aren’t just limited to web site design. They are an essential element of marketing automation. At least, they should be.
Yet, according to an Executive Benchmark Assessment study published by Frost & Sullivan, less than half of B2B companies develop buyer personas.
Think about it: if the goal of marketing automation is to nurture leads — and lead nurturing is the process of engaging prospects and existing customers with on-going, valuable dialogue – how can marketing automation succeed without a clear picture of prospects?
Lacking that clear picture, you can’t have the dialogue. It’s not practical to define each and every single prospect. You need someone to stand in for them. In other words, you need personas.
Buyer Type Personas
In sales, knowing the customer is the first rule to closing a sale. The wrong pitch to the wrong customer type is the surest way to a dead deal. The same holds true for marketing automation.
As prospects move through the buying cycle, they have different requirements. The content, tone and type of messaging they receive is based not just on where they are in the process, but also on the type of buyer they are.
If you don’t know who these buyer types are, you can’t have a lead-nurturing dialogue with them. Frost & Sullivan offers the following buyer types and their traits that could serve as the underpinning basis for a marketing automation content strategy:
- Economic Buyer
- Looks at the proposition purely from a bottom-line point of view, based on available budget
- Owns the buying decision and possesses a certain degree of autonomy
- Owns the budget
- Often leads or is part of a team or committee charged with providing the solution
- Exerts power with the decision-making and decision-makers, but does not control the budget or have final purchase authority
- Typically at arm’s length from the purchase decision
- Resides within any area of the organization
- Impact on the decision can vary from minimal to highly involved
- Technical Buyer
- Focused on “does the solution fit the requested specifications to the letter?”
- Sets technical requirements at the investigative stage
- Ensures that requirements are met in the final solution
- Focused on features and product/service details
- Executive Buyer
- Controls oversight or policy decision. Sets the parameters for the strategy
- Sets the “macro-vision” for the solution
- Ensures that the chosen solution is in alignment with the corporate vision
- Has veto power and can wield it at any time
Bringing It All Together
Depending on your product or service, your buyer personas may be slightly different. Regardless, awareness of buyer types such as these can be used to reach your prospects with the appropriate message via a marketing automation program.
What types of content should be delivered? And how do you create them? We’ll take up that topic in a future blog post. Meantime, if you have questions about marketing automation and how Biznet can help your company make it real, let us know.