In an era of big data, agile marketing, A/B testing, fail fast and all the pace and fluidity we are injecting into our marketing, is persona development still a good use of your time?

To connect with an audience, to be sought after and then remain connected in this fluid, fast paced digital world, brands need to be on point and hyper relevant to the buyer. Being relevant goes beyond telling the marketing story, but also the definition and development of the products and services they offer.

The foundation for brand relevance is audience insight, which starts with a well understood set of personas. Developing personas is now a business critical process, for B2B organizations it is a commercial imperative for success. 

Be Relevant or Die

Across most established B2B markets the buyer has an incredibly amount of choice in the range of vendor solutions, cloud services, agencies and integrators that will solve their problem. And if todays solution is not exactly what the market desires, a startup is moments away from getting the funding that will provide a new disruptive way to do it. 

The key to keeping the disruptive wolf from the door, to find and maintain a voice in the market is in remaining relevant to the buyer, end consumer and influencers for the product or service and the wants, needs and aspirations they have. 

It’s more than marketing

This is not just in the story the marketing team tell or the tactics, channels and content they use to to tell it, but in the products and services that the organization brings to market. Relevancy is the watch word that is on the lips of not just every B2B marketer, but also everymember of the C suite.

The B2B industry, especially in software is littered with the bodies of those that lost that connection with the market, became irrelevant and were quickly replaced by something more relevant to the buyers needs at the time. 

Have a little empathy

The second most important word after relevancy in sales and marketing today is empathy. This is often discussed as an attribute for sales people, but everyone in a B2B business needs to understand the pains and challenges faced by the customer and to have an empathy for them. 

Empathy is at the core of taking a B2P (Business to People) approach to B2B marketing, to create a culture that we are selling and servicing people, with jobs that are at risk, with bosses to please, numbers to hit and not faceless, unfeeling businesses. 

This is not easy, as Seth Godin observed:

Empathy is the hard part, the rest is mechanics. We’re not wired to walk in someone else’s shoes, it’s not our first instinct. Showing up with empathy is difficult, hard to outsource and will wear you out. But it’s precisely what we need from you.

It’s marketings job to discover that, to help the business to empathize and demonstrate that empathy for what the client is trying to achieve. 

Personas are key

To do this, to be relevant, to have an empathy for the people on the other side of the glass of the marketing campaign, the telephone in a cold call or the table in a meeting requires, a well understood set of personas.

The result

The objective of developing personas is to create a set of addressable tribes that we can create relevant messaging and products for.

I like to think of them as ‘tribes’ as it gets you over thinking about them as roles, job titles, or narrow demographic groups, in B2B a broad range of roles or demographic groups can experience the same pain that you can address with your content.

We’ll be publishing a white-paper with more detail on how to develop your personas, in the meantime if we can help you, please get in touch.

Photo by Raj Eiamworakul on Unsplash