Oct 14, 2020

How B2B Manufacturers Can Build Powerful Audience Personas

Successful marketing campaigns target the right people at the right time with the right message. They resonate with a specific group of people who are then more likely to move through the sales funnel.

Without knowing who you’re targeting, your campaigns are likely to fall flat and not reach the people you want them to. 

The old saying still stands: “if you try to please everyone, you end up pleasing no one”. This is why audience personas are so important in the manufacturing industry. Those involved in the decision-making process in the manufacturing world include production managers, engineers, and buyers, each of which have a very different set of needs and purchase considerations. 

Knowing what each type of customer wants and needs helps you get to the bottom of their pain points and provide them with the content they need at exactly the right moment. This will ultimately secure more leads and sales

Once you’ve created a collection of specific buyer personas, you can customize your content to match their needs – and you’ll be ahead of the competition too. In fact, research shows that less than half of B2B marketers use buyer personas so there’s a huge opportunity to take the lead. 

What is a B2B Audience Persona? 

Audience personas (or buyer personas) are essentially profiles of similar groups of buyers. They outline the wants, needs, and challenges of a specific set of buyers so that you can create valuable content that helps them. As a result, you resonate with more people, exert your expertise, and convert more leads. 

How B2B Manufacturers Can Create Buyer Personas

Creating a B2B persona is different from creating a B2C persona because purchases are often job-related rather than lifestyle-related. This means that, at the most basic level, you’re digging into potential buyers’ jobs, including their goals, motivations, and struggles. 

Think about how they approach the buying process and consider the ways you can best help them in their position. 

Here are some key ways to do that. 

Research Your Current Customers

Your current customers can give you an excellent insight into who buys from you and what they buy from you. This information will provide you with real-life nuggets about the job roles these people have, what their biggest pain points are, and how you can help them move forward.

In the manufacturing industry, top B2B personas that influence the buying process include design engineers, procurement managers, and MRO managers. While they all play a crucial role, their needs are very different.

For example, design engineers are tasked with solving functional product problems, while procurement managers are more focused on finding cost-effective, high-quality solutions.

The buying behavior of each of these personas varies greatly. Design engineers have a strong input in the decision-making process, but they have to be very confident in the products and services they’re investing in. On the flipside, procurement managers work alongside engineers to identify and seek out the right suppliers. They will then pass this information along to the necessary departments who will make the final decision. 

As you can see, each persona plays a different role in the buying process and you might need to target and interact with both of them to secure a purchase. This means you’ll need a deep understanding of the role each persona takes in the decision-making process and determine what information they need to move to the next stage. 

Use the data you have available to start mapping out who your best customers are and some key details about them, such as:

  • Their job role
  • Why they needed a product like yours in the first place
  • What they bought from you
  • The use case for your product 


Carry Out Customer Interviews

If you don’t have enough past data from customers, you can hone in on a few of your best customers and see if they’ll do an interview with you. This will give you insider knowledge into actual pain points and struggles people have when they come to you for a solution. 

Identify 2-3 of your most loyal buyers and ask them to hop on a call with you. Alternatively, you can send out a questionnaire or survey to a select group of people to determine:

  • What they want and need from you
  • Why they chose your company in the first place
  • What the focus of their job is
  • What business challenges they have
  • What they plan to do to overcome those challenges
  • Their buying behavior or patterns 
  • Where do they currently research who to buy from

Conduct Industry Research 

Learning about the industry you’re serving is a great way to better understand the people you’re serving. Even running a quick online search can bring back valuable insights that will help you discover the wants and needs of your key buyers. 

You can check out industry publications, popular websites and blogs, and see what’s trending in your industry. 

Specifically, look at what conversations are happening and who is involved in them. This can give you key information about the topics your buyers might want to read about and can help fuel your content strategy. 

For example, if you manufacture car parts for production lines, you’ll need to understand the unique wants and needs of the people involved in those production lines. Reading articles from the publications they read can be invaluable for gleaning snippets of information about their interests.

Start Building Your B2B Personas

Now you’ve carried out your research and are armed with lots of information about your buyers and potential buyers, you can start to create your personas. As a general rule, you want to stick to 2-3 to begin with (3-4 personas usually account for over 90% of a company’s sales), but you can branch out in the future once you’ve established your initial personas and created campaigns that actually work for them.

You can then use these personas to come up with content ideas, create meaningful assets, and build out campaigns that are highly targeted to the unique pain points, struggles, and needs of these specific personas. 

Related Articles:

B2B Manufacturers: Here’s How to Create Stronger Customer Relationships

3 Things Manufacturers Can Learn from B2C Marketers

How Manufacturers Should use Recruitment Marketing to Attract Top Talent

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