Looking Outside In: Know Your Buyer First

“There is nothing so terrible as activity without insight” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

It sounds pretty basic…getting to know your buyer before you build a Demand Generation program seems like common sense. Then why are so many Enterprise B2B marketers missing the mark?

ANNUITAS recently published the first B2B Enterprise Demand Generation Study to understand what drives this unique group of marketers. In it, the use of buyer personas was explored and surprisingly only 44% of enterprise B2B organizations use buyer personas as part of their Demand Generation planning. Combine that with the findings that two-thirds are running more than 15 programs a year and less than 3% rate themselves as effective, and a very reactive picture starts to emerge. As CMOs are being asked to do more and are required to drive more revenue for their organizations, they must become experts on the buyer to turn the situation around. Activity without insights will not get them there.

shutterstock_241710778Include the Buyers
Demographic information is critical for most marketers using buyer personas according to the ANNUITAS research. About 60% also include buyer pain points, but how do they build these insights?

Marketing and sales roles provide most of the inputs to buyer personas with about half of respondents interviewing customers and a third interviewing prospects. Marketers should be wary of inside out thinking as the view of the buyer seen through internal filters can miss insights that impact the buying process.

This potential for internal bias has repercussions across Demand Generation programs. It shows up when only 43% of content is reported as aligning to buyer pain points and 28% report aligning content to the buyer journey stages. Speaking to buyers directly provides insights that can’t be gleaned from secondary research or internal sources alone.

Another key component of the buyer persona is understanding the buying process. However, according to the ANNUITAS study, only about 33% of B2B Enterprise marketers include this key insight in their efforts. The buying process information provides a critical link between pain points and the content consumption patterns of the buyer. This also indicates buying intent so it should not be overlooked.

Uncovering Insights
How should B2B Enterprise marketers approach buyer insights? There are four key areas of focus.

  • Uncover environmental factors common in the industry and the marketplace. Secondary research is good for surfacing what issues are being discussed, but buyers can confirm whether something is vendor-hype or part of the critical challenges they face. Buyers will also provide stories that add color and dimension to your buyer personas that are often missing from facts and figures in analyst reports.
  • Dig into business pain points, including the day-to-day. Sometimes even seemingly mundane issues lead to critical insights about how buyers consume content or delegate purchasing roles, to name a few.
  • Buying process questions should cover the process itself, stakeholders and, in the case of customers, how the sales process matched up with their buying needs. Uncovering these internal barriers to conversion can be a valuable part of conducting buyer persona research.
  • Get to know their content consumption preferences and patterns. Are they checking their Twitter feed multiple times a day or do they depend on local events and industry publications for most of their information? What type of information do they look for at different stages of the journey, and who do they trust to deliver it?

Buyer personas can be invaluable to B2B Enterprise marketers if they’re intentional and insightful instead of something that just “checks the box.” Becoming experts on the buyer will ensure that marketers build programs that have the right starting point, with clear guideposts along the way to building a Demand Generation program that delivers results.

Author: Lee Anne Wimberly @lwimberly Director of Strategy, ANNUITAS