There seems to be a very disturbing trend happening among many B2B marketing organizations. The idea of working towards a more customer centric approach has become a popular concept among marketing teams, yet the development of the key foundation documents necessary to assist in making this happen seem to be missing or get bypassed. Too often, marketing teams are not putting in the critical work of developing their buyer personas and customer journey (also known as buying journey), two vital documents that are imperative to moving down the path to stronger customer centric marketing initiatives.
Only 55% of B2B marketers use personas as part of their overall content marketing strategy. CMI/MarketingProfs, 2018
Yet, 65% of companies who exceed lead and revenue goals have updated their personas within the past 6 months. Boardview
To be customer centric, means to really know your customer. Not just their basic demographic information such as title, age range, salary, geography, but the details that make your customer into an actual 3D persona. It’s a pretty basic premise. If you don’t know who you’re talking to, how can you truly expect them to engage?
Buyer personas provide the details that drive customer centricity. When the content you produce delivers insights into the actual person you’re targeting, that is when you have truly put your customer first. You then increase the potential for not only achieving higher engagement, but having your persona see you and your brand as a trusted thought leader.
A few benefits that buyer personas provide:
- Content development: Stop developing content that you ‘think’ your audience wants and develop content you know they need. When you take the time to dissect your key personas, content ideas come more easily and are much more aligned to what can actually help your buyer.
- Messaging: Moving away from product-centric messaging to customer centric messaging is a goal for many B2B organizations. Breaking down your buyer personas will help you get there. When you better understand the person who is buying your products and services, you can write for and to them more successfully.
- Sales alignment: Your sales team is vital to the development of personas. Marketing needs to work alongside sales to build out these key buyers and influencers. Other than your actual customers, sales is the most important partner marketing has in building out these documents.
- Communication Cadence: How does your persona like to receive communication and how often? Developing personas requires your team to learn various details of your target audience, which in turn will improve how, when and how often you communicate with them.
- Possible Partnerships: Where does your key buyer hang out or get their information about your industry? When you learn how your personas are influenced, you gain insight into possible partnerships to grow your database and increase leads.
By 2020, customers will manage 85% of their relationship with the enterprise without interacting with a human. Gartner
Building out the stages for your customer’s buying journey is critical to understanding what your persona(s) need to know as they venture from becoming aware of your solution to eventual loyal customer advocates. When you know what it takes to move your prospect from one stage to the next, everything you develop in marketing is done so with more confidence and opportunity for personalization. You can anticipate what your buyer needs before they need it, putting you top of mind as not only a brand, but as the ‘go-to’ resource in your industry.
A few benefits that a customer journey provides:
- Content development: The key to effective content development is asking great questions about what your audience needs at every stage of their buying journey. These questions can then be turned into solutions through your content and distributed via the proper channels to your target audience. The goal is to get the right content in front of the right audience at the right time. A mapped out customer journey is critical to making that happen.
- Sales alignment: Again, your sales team is your most important internal partner when developing the customer journey. The buying journey is not a sales journey, but working alongside sales to build out this customer centric approach will ensure you are asking the right questions at each stage. Marketing also needs to know how and when sales is involved with the prospect to customer relationship, so that there is a compliment happening between marketing initiatives and sales goals.
- Campaign development: Developing a program of campaigns has a higher chance of success when you know how your customer actually buys from you. Need new leads into the database? Building out an awareness campaign works better when you know how your audience becomes aware of your products/services. Looking to drive more MQL’s further down the pipeline? The work you do with sales to understand how your products/services are considered for purchase will ensure a more successful outcome with your campaigns.
- Interdepartmental communication: Your customer interacts with your company via various departments, directly and indirectly. To ensure you can better anticipate what your audience needs, marketing has to break down the internal barriers and talk to other departments about how the customer engages. Sales is the most obvious, but departments such as product development and customer service will also provide key insights into the customer’s journey from awareness all the way to becoming a loyal advocate.
To be customer centric means to get personal. Yes, developing these documents requires your marketing team to take a step back and do the necessary work. But by placing the proper importance on building out these foundational pieces, your marketing initiatives will improve, your leads will become more qualified and your revenue will increase.