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To Win, Understand Your B2B Customers as People

By Shane Davies

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Understanding your target market is only part of the marketing equation. One to one B2B selling is about understanding your customers at a personal level. And now in the Google-first world, it’s what B2B marketing is all about too.

Segmenting is not enough

Imagine you’re a finance broker selling financial services. If for example, you’re in commercial property finance you're probably targeting a few customers - commercial property investors, property developers or even business owners looking to secure premises.

If you're still marketing in the dark ages, you've probably just segmented along these lines. Maybe you've got your brokers or sales reps calling lists, and perhaps you're doing a monthly email to let your clients know what's happening.  In days gone by this was probably enough, but not anymore.

A Google-first world penalises old-world marketers in favour of leaders and marketing teams who know their clients and build websites, email communications and social media communities that demonstrate this understanding.

Know your customers

Your three amigos have very different motivators. While they each need you to provide them with knowledge, a one to one relationship and connection with lenders, picking you out of their shortlist in a lot of cases, will rest on how well you know each of them as people and understand their situations.

For example, your commercial property investor may be all about rental yields and have relatively longer investment timeframes that are very different to the time pressures and requirements of a developer, who may be looking to minimise holding costs and get a return on investment as quickly as possible.

Similarly, your business owner property buyer may not be focused first on a quick return on investment. They're conceivably going to be holding onto their dirt for a lot longer than the others. Instead, they might be focused first on the property features - they might need acres of bitumen for parking within easy access to the main trade thoroughfare and the local port.

Not only will each of these customers have different drivers, their profile as people, their risk profile, they way they think, and the kind of relationship they need may also be different. So, understanding your customers as individuals is paramount. And, developing buyer personas is critical.

Buyer personas are the key

Buyer personas are the foundations of connecting and influencing customers in a Google-first world. They are a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers. They allow you to create a representation of the person you're targeting so you can then develop content that is sympathetic, and of value, to that individual.

When creating your buyer personas, consider including customer demographics, behaviour patterns, motivations, and goals. The more detailed you are, the better.

Help not sell

In this new age, it's all about helping not selling, so that the buyer comes to you. Enter digital marketing, content marketing and inbound marketing...

Think about the last time you made a significant business purchase.  You surely didn't rely on the sales person to give you all the information and tell you which knobs do what.

No, you researched it yourself and undoubtedly balanced your decision to buy based on price, quality and the trust you had in the vendor. This trust you no doubt started (and possibly finished) building online before you made a decision to go with a particular company.

Content marketing is essentially the art of building trust online that matches how your clients buy.  Buyer personas help you determine the content you need to produce online so customers build their trust in you and give you the gig (rather than the others).

Final thought

Creating B2B buyer personas is a building block to underpin a successful b2b marketing plan in the modern age.

So whether you’re a finance broker, commercial electrician, or selling training, safety gear, sheds, or pipes, build out a blueprint of your ideal customer in the form of buyer personas. If you don’t, you’ll be shooting in the dark.

If you haven't already built a marketing strategy and action plan around developing content that helps build trust online, start with understanding who your buyer personas are. While modern measurable marketing is never easy it's a lot easier if you know who your buyers are and how you can help solve their problems better than anyone else.

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TOPICS Buyer Behaviour Buyer Personas Inbound Marketing

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Shane Davies

About Shane Davies

Shane Davies is a digital marketing strategy expert. He helps B2B companies win the work they should be winning. He lives in Cottesloe, Western Australia with his wife and two daughters. You can follow him on or LinkedIn or or Google+

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