Jun 16, 2015

The Importance of Developing Buyer Personas

Two weeks ago we started our B2B Marketing Myths blog series, with last week’s focusing on developing a tailored inbound strategyfocusing on the types of site visitors that would make ideal clients. This week we’re going to pause to discuss those visitors – personas.


Personas are fictional “people” (characters) created by business marketing departments based on market research and data about existing customers. They are “…a representation of the goals and behaviors of a hypothesized group of users…including behavior patterns, goals, skills, attitudes, and a few fictional details that make the persona a realistic character.”

Using personas, you can more easily target certain potential customers – Persona A might get an email with slightly different verbiage than Persona B based on how we think we can most successfully pull them in. And by integrating personas into a marketing strategy, you can better see how to customize that persona’s experience on your site.

If I was a florist, for instance, three of my personas might be as follows (keep in mind these are not fully in-depth but overview examples):

  1. Mark. Male; between the ages of 25 and 35; in the dating scene but not married; working in entry- to mid-level professional services; purchases flowers rarely, for dates or woman relatives.
  2. Josh. Male; between 30-64; married for at least 5 years, with kids; works at the management or executive level; purchases flowers every 1-2 months, for his wife or secretary.
  3. Jessica. Female; between the ages of 21-30, very active in social groups; large group of women friends; works in an entry-level position, purchases flowers occasionally, for her own home, women friends, or family members.

Narrowing down potential or current customers using personas allows you to expertly tailor and customize your marketing efforts to get the best possibly ROI. For example, Mark and Jessica would be added to my email list for things like Mother’s Day. Mark might receive a “Recently Met the Woman of Your Dreams?” outreach, while Josh’s would remind him that Administrative Assistant’s Day is coming up, or ask him if he’s made his wife smile this week.


Hubspot has a plethora of resources on personas; check out their posts, learning aids, and templates. They start by recommending interviewing four essential groups: Existing customers, prospects, referrals and third-party networks.

First, interview your current customers, both good and bad. This gives you answers to the question of what brought your existing customers to you, and gives you an idea on how to streamline your approach to potential customers.

After learning from existing customers, reach out to people who are not customers, and do not know too much about your business. What kinds of things are they looking for in a [insert your company]? What grabs their attention when they visit a site in your industry? What makes them stay, and what makes them ask for more?

Next, ask your network of co-workers, customers and industry contacts to refer possible people who may fit into your target personas. These interviews will generally be of a smaller volume, but can be just as important to outline how to reach those people you didn’t even know you wanted to reach.

Finally, if you feel you don’t have enough to go on, try using third-party networks like testing sites or Craigslist. These interviews will be less reliable, but the wide net cast has the possibility to bring in ideas far outside your wheelhouse.

Check out this post for a list of example interview questions.

This will get you started on your way to building the personas you need to target your inbound marketing the right way. Tune in next week as we continue our B2B Marketing Myths series!

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