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Jan

11

2013

Decision Makers or Influencers? Finding The Right Buyer Persona

Inbound Marketing

Here's a tricky question: How do you know if you're targeting the right link in the business food chain? If you have a B2B product you want CEOs to buy into, do you target the CEO or do you target his staff? Unfortunately, this isn't something we can give you a straight answer on. Every business is different, and unfortunately this isn't a question that will go away if you ignore it.

The effectiveness of your content and marketing as a whole all circles back around to how you have defined your buyer persona, so targeting the wrong people will lead to bigger and bigger inefficiencies over time, and that means lost ROI. What we can do however is offer these tips to point you in the right direction, so you can determine the course you feel most comfortable with when approaching buyer persona for your own business.

Appealing to Decision Makers

Let's say you want to directly appeal to CEOs because you have a concept you know they'll fall in love with if they hear it. Sometimes the best thing to do is appeal directly to that persona by focusing all your marketing on the C-Suite. These are, after all, the folks who make the decisions--trying to target their supporting staff might not matter if the CEO can't quickly and easy determine what the value is of your product and service on a very high level. You have to communicate in a way that decision makers understand and can relate to.

Appealing to decision makers isn't the hard part. Your marketing material can focus on the key points and de-emphasize tactics and methods. Simply put, decision makers don't want to know exactly how your service or product works, they likely are more interested in the bottom line--what it means for their business and revenue.

There are circumstances in which appealing to decision makers is most effective. It helps if your product or service is meant for entrepreneurs or business leaders specifically, and not meant for the general business. If you have services that are meant to help out with staffing, the CEO likely won't get excited about it, even if he or she has a reason to value the ROI that service will bring. In that case, you're better off targeting influencers.

Appealing to Influencers

Influencers are employees with a level of trust (and, well, influence) within the business who, while they may not write the checks, can sway decision makers one way or the other. This is often then better course (though not often enough that we would prescribe it) when trying to create a marketing strategy. Think about who will be using your product/service the most, who's job will be made easier by it, and who you can make look good. In our opinion, that's the absolute best way to get an influencer excited about your business: convey how what you provide will make them look good in the eyes of their employers. If you can do that, and deliver on it, you're golden.

There's also a good reason to go after influencers even if the C-Suite is who your product is meant for. If you're targeting larger businesses, and not small business entrepreneurs, then it is likely that even if you have a service CEOs would be interested in, the C-Suite probably isn't searching for it themselves. They likely aren't the ones on Google trying to find new options and ways to generate ROI or find solutions to specific problems. It's probably their supporting staff.

So what's a business to do?

A/B Test Everything

It doesn't matter if we're talking about landing pages, call to actions, or content itself--everything needs to be A/B tested. If you're unsure about who to target, don't chance it. Run targeting decision makers for a few months, then switch to targeting influencers for an equal amount of time, and compare your results. Always compare your results on everything you do in marketing. It's one of the basics, but it often is ignored. Our philosophy here is that if you can do the basics better than everyone else, then you're already miles ahead in the game. It's working well so far. Don't neglect A/B testing. It's how you continue to optimize and get better ROI--and ultimately, that's why you're here, isn't it?

How do you approach buyer persona? Leave a comment below and let us know.

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