If you’ve been looking into inbound marketing, you may have heard the term “buyer persona” bandied about. Buyer personas are critical for inbound and digital strategy, because they define your audience, allowing you to create content and deploy marketing techniques that will reach your ideal buyers, convert them to clients, and provide an exceptional ROI on your marketing efforts.
Buyer persona definition
A buyer persona is a fictionalized version of your ideal client types. The persona defines what these clients are like: demographic information like age and gender, job title, job responsibilities, purchasing power, and more. Creating a persona allows you to visualize and understand your audience better, which allows you to hone your content and marketing efforts to be highly effective.
How to create buyer personas
You probably have a good idea already of what your typical client is like. If you create plastic injection moldings of automotive components, you know that your ideal client is a sourcing specialist or product engineer for an automotive OEM, and that this client is usually male, in his late twenties to early forties, and is under extreme time pressure to source components. From your work experience, you probably have this same background information on your other client types (e.g. a Tier II supplier who makes automotive assemblies) as well.
Use the information you have, but don’t just rely on your assumptions. One effective method for understanding your ideal buyer is to interview your best clients. Find out about their job responsibilities, the challenges they face in their work, and how your company can help them and meet their needs. This information can help you
Simple example persona:
Sourcing Specialist/Product Engineer
Late 20s–early 40s
Sourcing components for vehicles
Working under extreme time pressure
Needs quick turnarounds, on-time delivery, products that can meet OEM specs
Needs suppliers with capability to produce high volume of moldings
To source quality components quickly, at the best possible price, from a reliable supplier
Your buyer personas can be as simple (like the example above) or as detailed as you like, and as works for your application. Once you’ve written buyer personas for your major client types (probably two or three different personas) you’ll better understand your buyers and your audience, and better be able to market to them.
Creating content for your buyer personas
The way that you take advantage of the personas that you’ve created is through creating targeted content that addresses those specific personas. You’ll need to create content—blog posts, infographics, social posts, ebooks, white papers, videos, etc.—specifically geared toward the goals and challenges of your buyer persona. Returning to our previous example, if you are creating content for OEM Oliver, you might write a blog post about how to select a plastic injection molding supplier, create an infographic about the plastic injection molding process from design to receipt by the customer, or publish an ebook about maximizing your plastic molding’s design to reduce structural and cosmetic imperfections. These pieces of content address the needs of OEM Oliver, which include finding suppliers (blog on selecting injection molders), quick turnaround times (process timeline infographic), and high-quality, spec-meeting components (ebook on minimizing defects). This content is useful and interesting to OEM Oliver, which may prompt him to read it, convert from a site visitor to a lead by providing contact information, or reach out for more information or even a quote.
Buyer personas are a useful and under-utilized tool for understanding the prospective customers you want to target with your marketing efforts. By researching and creating buyer personas and then creating content that addresses the needs of those personas, you can become visible to the type of person you want as a client and peak their interest about your company’s offerings.
The importance of inbound and digital marketing is undeniable in our increasingly digital world: we carry computers around in our pockets, everywhere we go, and we see everything through this new digital lens. As a sales professional, you know the importance too of embracing digital strategies. If your focus has always been on traditional outbound and push marketing methods, however, it can be difficult to make the transition. Here are a few things you can do to convert your sales team from outbound to inbound marketing.
Recycle mail content to email content
Any marketing materials that you’ve sent to prospective clients, you can probably send via email much more conveniently and at much less expense. This includes direct mail fliers as well as newsletters. You shouldn’t just scan a paper copy of your newsletter and send out an email blast, though. While much of the content may stay the same, digital newsletters and email marketing pieces should be made interactive—by directing people to your website or to contact your company—and should focus on relevant, educational topics that speak to your readers’ (a.k.a. your future clients’) pain points, rather than exclusively promoting your company.
Switching to email provides several advantages, such as lower initial cost and time-saving automation, but it also allows the recipient to opt-in (through a website submission form or through traditional methods of obtaining contact information) as well as opt-out. If leads can opt out of marketing materials from you, you know that they aren’t interested in your products or services, and you can focus your efforts on other potential clients.
Turn brochures and handouts into website content
Brochures are dying, and we’re really not sorry about it. That doesn’t mean that the work that went into your brochures should go to waste—it’s often a great starting point for developing website content. The content is already succinct and discusses your company’s products and services, which is what your site needs to do, too. Chances are that your brochures also contain professionally captured, high quality images of your products, key team members, and facilities, which could be incorporated into your website as well.
Business cards aren’t going away anytime soon, so keep handing those out, and include a link to your site to direct your leads to your website and the valuable information it contains about your company. Instead of forcing it on them with a brochure (that often as not, gets tossed immediately), interested parties, who are already looking for what you’re selling will find your site through search results, digital ads, and even the old standbys, like a meeting with a member of your sales team or through word-of-mouth.
Forget cold-calling, start posting
Social media is ubiquitous and inescapable—use that to your advantage. Again, it can save you money on advertising, and it has better reach than older tactics. We talk about LinkedIn all the time when it comes to B2B marketing, because it’s an excellent tool; want to target people with specific job titles at specific companies with information about your services or products? You can do that with LinkedIn. (Check out 6 Easy Ways to Make LinkedIn Work For Your B2B Marketing Strategy for more on LinkedIn.) There are numerous other platforms that can be of use, too, depending on your industry and target audience, and they all allow you to communicate with hundreds, thousands, even millions of people very easily, and it allows them to communicate and interact with your company as well, pulling them in, rather than pushing out to them.
Social media is also a great way to promote and get people interested in some of the things your company has already created. Take your white papers, reports, forecasts—anything that might be valuable and interesting to your target buyers—and digitize it. Turn those things into blog posts, ebooks, infographics, etc. and put them on the web. Then use social media to let people know where to find it and how it can help them with their business’s challenges. These strategies draw in interested parties, bringing the qualified leads to you, rather than the other way around.
Don’t think that transitioning from an outbound to inbound strategy means that you have to reinvent the wheel—you don’t. In fact, many outbound strategies are easily digitized and can even supplement your newly implemented inbound strategies. Start with the amazing content and resources that you’ve already cultivated, and work on making them digital friendly. When the leads start pouring in, your sales team will know just what to do.
Want to know more about digital strategy and how HADM might be able to help in your shift to inbound marketing techniques? We’d love to hear from you. And for more information on boosting your B2B’s inbound marketing power, check out this exclusive guide to Inbound Marketing, specifically for B2B manufacturers:
Customer lifetime value (CLV) is the amount of money you can expect to make from a client over the course of your business relationship. Fostering a good relationship with your customers can increase this lifetime value, and there are a variety of digital marketing tools you can implement to help nurture those relationships. Most of these tools fall into two categories––segmentation, and tailored content. By performing just these two basic steps, you can seriously increase the customer lifetime value, ensuring you’re providing your clients with quality customer service, while increasing your ROI at the same time. Here’s how to get it done:
The first step to increasing customer lifetime value is to segment your customers into groups based on shared traits, such as revenue or industry. This will allow you to determine the shared characteristics of clients in these segments—their wants, needs, and pain points—and make product or service changes to meet those needs, as well as create content that addresses them.
Once you’ve segmented your customer base, you can determine which of those segments is the most valuable to your company, and you can focus your marketing efforts on attracting and retaining clients in this segment. By focusing your efforts on the most valuable client segment, you attract and retain more clients in this segment, increasing overall customer lifetime value, as well as extending CLV for this segment.
Create content that addresses the pain points that your customer segments have at each stage of the buyer’s journey, including post-sale. No matter what products or services you offer, you can provide information that will increase the benefit your customers derive from their purchase at all steps of the buyer’s journey, which ensures you keep previous clients, as you’re gaining new ones.
Use your segments to tailor follow-up messaging to the client type’s needs with relevant content, news, and offers. You can also take time here to thank your clients for their purchase—clients who feel that their business is valued and appreciated are more likely to be loyal customers. Follow-up messaging also provides an opportunity to collect feedback from customers that you can incorporate into improving your product, service, or customer experience.
To improve customer lifetime value, you need to do two things: attract clients with a higher initial customer lifetime value (marketing) and extend the customer lifetime (retention). Through strategic messaging and content creation, you can attract more clients from your ideal buyer type (buyers in the highest CLV segment) and retain your best clients, increasing their lifetime value.
If you’re interested in using digital marketing to attract new leads and increase retention and customer lifetime value, HA Digital Marketing can help. For more information on using inbound marketing to your advantage, be sure to check out our Inbound Marketing Guide specifically for B2Bs:
Content marketing in the B2B space can seem difficult. After all, your company’s products and services are a little more niche and a lot less sexy than most consumer goods. Despite all that, it is possible to create great content for your B2B that generates leads and enhances your brand reputation. Not only is it possible, but it’s necessary as more and more industrial sourcing is done online. So how do you develop successful content for your B2B? It just takes these 5 simple steps:
#1 Identify a target
Or, as writers like to say, know your audience. You need to have an idea of who you’re writing to in order to create successful content for your B2B. As the content creators, we really only see our half of the process—the creation—which means from time to time we fail to account for the fact that content is a conversation with other people.
So, who is your target audience? It’s the people who are buying and using your product or service. For example, if you manufacture components for motorcycle engines, your target audience could be Sourcing Specialists or Product Engineers at a motorcycle manufacturer. Learn as much as you can about this target audience, what challenges they face in their role, what they’re looking for in a supplier, and how your product or service offerings could make their jobs easier.
#2 Say something worth saying
Once you know who your target audience is, and what they do, use that information to create content that is relevant to the challenges they face and the value your offerings could have for them and their company. Overtly promotional content that is focused on your company/service/product is not going to engage your readers—it needs to be useful to your readers; so, instead of a post outlining all the reasons why your company is the best supplier of your product, say auto parts for example, write a post on how to select the right auto parts supplier. That will be content that is both useful and relevant to your readers. Not only do you help them with one of their challenges—finding good suppliers for the components they need—you frame frame your company as one of those good suppliers.
#3 Say it well
We know that your engineers and technical guys are smart, and that they know what they’re talking about. But your readers might not know what they’re talking about, and the content you create needs to be accessible to your readers. That means it needs to be well-written (good grammar is important), it needs to use the right keywords for SEO (search engine optimization), and it can’t be too technical for your audience to understand—so don’t let your engineers write your content. Don’t. (Or if you do, have it edited by a writer.)
#4 Promote like crazy
If good content is published on your site and no one reads it, does it still compel your target audience? No! For your content to be successful, people need to see it, and to see it, they need to know it exists. How? Promotion. When you publish new content, you need to let your target audience know where it is and that they should check it out. Share it on LinkedIn, include a link in your email newsletter, use all relevant platforms to get the word out, and get people interested.
#5 Set a schedule
Nothing will kill your readership like sporadic publication. Once you know how to create quality content, do it on a regular basis. Quantity is almost as important as quality here, so make sure you’re posting at least once per month. This keeps your company fresh in the minds of your target audience, and ensures that what you’re creating really is successful.
If you follow these guidelines, and you follow them regularly, your content is going to start to attract readers from your target audience. So long as you keep them interested, those readers will convert to leads, eventually becoming clients! If you have more questions about creating compelling, successful content for your B2B, or even if you’re looking for a hand with your manufacturing company’s inbound marketing strategy, give the experts at HA Digital Marketing a call. We can help.
For more information about creating an inbound marketing strategy that gets you the leads you want, check out our Inbound Marketing Guide just for manufacturers and industrial B2Bs like you:
What if we told you there was a way to get clients to call your B2B sales team, instead of the other way around? You’d be interested, right? Well there is a way to do this, and it’s called inbound marketing. The principle is simple: produce content that attracts leads to you, rather than traditional methods of push marketing, in which you put yourself in front of the potential lead, whether they wanted you to or not. (Want a longer explanation? Check our complete guide to inbound marketing.)
More than ever, buyers are performing thorough online research before making purchases. This isn’t just the case in the consumer market; B2B clients are using online search to increase their efficiency when sourcing products and services for their businesses. What that means is that a digital presence, and an effective one, is crucial for any B2B manufacturer or service provider who wants to stay competitive. Using inbound marketing in that digital strategy can support your sales team in many ways.
Creating content that is useful to your potential buyers at every stage of the buyer’s journey is one of the ways that inbound optimizes your B2B sales team’s time. If your clients can get the information they need about the product or service you provide from your website, without ever having to call you, that means that a) when they do call, they’re qualified leads and b) your sales team is spending less time fielding calls about general awareness topics from unqualified parties who are not ready to make a purchase decision. Awareness stage content will inform readers about the value of your product or service and allows them to self-qualify or disqualify, before ever making contact with sales.
This content also helps you to build buyer trust. Buyers are more skeptical than ever of salespeople, who ultimately have an agenda—make a sale. When you create content on relevant topics that address the needs, concerns, and challenges that your potential customers face without an obvious sales pitch or pressure to make a purchase, these readers come to trust and appreciate your brand.
The formula is simple: produce quality content → attract leads → make sales. If your content is informative and compelling enough, it can practically make the sales for you. Investing time writing content saves you time—you invest the time writing once, but it’s read numerous times—and effort—non-leads will disqualify themselves, and buyers at the decision stage will contact you. When your B2B sales team isn’t busy fielding calls for awareness stage information, they can focus their energy on qualified leads who are ready to make purchases, and investing their time in these leads will increase sales and produce satisfied customers. If you’re interested in what inbound marketing can do to support your B2B sales team, or how you can implement digital marketing strategies for your company, let’s talk. For more information on inbound marketing for B2B manufacturers, check out our comprehensive guide below: