Why Manufacturers Need to Develop Buyer Personas

Challenges: Growth

Posted by Meaghan Ziemba

Estimated Reading Time : 4 min.

Buyer Personas provide manufacturers a clear understanding of target audience, helping establish trust and deliver valuable and relevant information, to the right person, in the right channel, at the right time.

Think about it ...

Does anyone like being interrupted by marketing messages?

I've never met a manufacturer that does ...

Today, the success of manufacturers’ content marketing efforts, including messages that may cause unwanted interruption, depends on how well they’ve defined their buyer personas.

So, what is a buyer persona?

Inbound marketing software pioneer HubSpot defines a buyer persona as a semi-fictional representation for your ideal customer,based on quantitative and qualitative analysis.

Buyer personas help marketers identify what your prospect may be thinking and doing as they weigh options to address a problem your company resolves. Whether marketers develop personas or not, successful sales efforts depend on knowing who the customer is and having a customer-centric approach to marketing.

Developing and documenting buyer personas provides a method for knowing customers better, and developing strategies centered around them.

To put it more practically, having well-defined personas guides the marketing message and helps produce more effective and successful marketing campaigns. In other words, it helps eliminate unwanted or unnecessary interruptions by narrowing down the target audience. Having a persona-based strategy ensures that the right type of content is being created for a specific type of person, and the right channel is being used to deliver the content at the right time.

And that’s the crux of a successful marketing campaign.

So, where do you start? Follow these best practices when defining and developing your own manufacturing buyer personas: 

  1. Start with data you already have.
  2. Conduct customer interviews with current and “closed-lost” prospects.
  3. Build your personas from interview insights and findings.
  4. Leverage your personas for marketing and sales enablement.


Start with Data You Already Have

Past marketing efforts and data collected by your sales team can produce a wealth of data to help develop your personas, such as: 

  • Web analytics of your most and least successful content pieces.
  • Web analytics of where your customers are and how they found you.
  • Lists of contacts collected through forms with details such as demographics, industry, job roles, company names, etc.
  • Information collected through customer satisfaction surveys and other data collection efforts.
  • Lists of names who have unsubscribed or chose a competitor (“closed lost” prospects).

Once this existing knowledge is compiled, members of your service, marketing, and sales teams can work to generate a list of potential interviewees from current customers and “closed-lost” prospects.


Conduct Customer Interviews with Current and “Closed-Lost” Prospects

Scheduling customer interviews with your current customers and “closed-lost” prospects is important to retain a better understanding of your target audience.

It’s not wise to build your buyer personas on internal knowledge alone. You’ll have to locate and recruit buyers to uncover their motivations for purchasing or rejecting your products and services. Interviewing people who did not choose you can often provide more valuable insight than conversations with those who did.

Once you identify your interviewees, follow these tips to land a meeting with them: 

  • Call first and immediately follow up with an email.
    • Set them up to look for the email and be sure to include your contact information.
    • Follow up no more than three times if you do not hear back from them.
  • Assure them you are not selling anything.
  • Be appreciative and not apologetic for their time.

There are three phases of administering successful interviews:

  • Prepare
  • Conduct
  • Reflect

You want to probe for insights that will get you closer to your buyer personas. If you don’t have the resources to do this, consider getting help from a specialized agency. Solidifying your buyer personas guarantees the time and energy you put towards marketing doesn’t miss the mark.

It’s worth the investment.


Build Personas from Interview Insights and Findings

After completing your interviews, transcribe them and look for patterns of similarities to help you determine how many personas you need to define and develop.

Be sure to know: 

  • The pain points or challenges they are trying to solve.
  • The type of information the interviewee looked for to solve their problem.
  • The criteria the interviewee used to select your company or to choose another.

Best practice involves a spreadsheet including key insights and characteristics informing how to persuade the buyer.

Follow these tips when writing up your findings

  • Resist the urge to generalize; be specific.
  • Include repeated answers -- provide qualitative research, not quantitative.
  • Stick to findings that can be used to make better marketing decisions.
    • You’ll occasionally get insight or feedback you cannot solve through marketing. While insight is valuable, it is best to pass on the information, allowing the proper department to address or resolve.
  • Communicate emotions to humanize your personas. Be sensitive not to lose the human element of your data.


Leverage Personas for Marketing and Sales Enablement

With buyer personas defined and developed, it’s time to leverage them for marketing and sales enablement.

A few ways to implement buyer personas include: 

  • Segmenting contact lists by buyer personas.
  • Creating videos targeting each persona.
  • Displaying different messages to people based on their persona.
  • Developing a lead generation program targeting a specific persona.
  • Confirming your existing website content speaks to each buyer persona.

Developing an intimate understanding of your personas and creating a content strategy targeting each of them will definitely give you an edge over your competitors who make assumptions. A precise marketing message is dependent on buyer persona research and development.

Personas also create alignment and company-wide consistency by serving as a frame of reference for all business functions from sales and service to research and development.

Manufacturers who take the time to develop personas are able to craft marketing that resonates and establishes trust.

People buy from companies they trust.

So trust the marketing experts -- developing buyer personas is time well spent.