Let’s start with an extremely brief review of what buyer personas are.
Marketing 101 – Understand who you’re trying to reach with your content. If you’re too broad and try to reach a large audience, you typically reach no one as a result. If you take the time and research the needs and pain-points of a specific niche, you can develop content that makes them feel like it is meant specifically for them. Everyone is different – and wants to feel different. A buyer persona is the representation you build to identify what an individual within this niche is like. It’s typically a fictional person or role, with information about who they are, what they care about, what keeps them up at night, etc.
Okay – let’s move on to the good stuff.
What is Unique About B2B Tech Buyer Personas?
Everything. The IT space is unique when it comes to who is actually driving the buying decision, as well as who may be influencing the decision. Even VARs that have focused on a very specific niche will find that the buying decision makers varies from organization to organization.
Developing buyer personas for IT used to be a relatively easy process – the IT department made a decision on what the company was going to use, and either they bought it or a Procurement/Purchasing Manager would drive the bid. While this absolutely still occurs, buying decisions are also being driven by the business directly, sometimes even from roles outside of leadership.
Let’s look at a few examples:
Sales Leadership is Leveraging IT for Better Forecasting, Team Management, and to Better Highlight Their Solution
This is an easy one – sales leaders are influencing what CRM and sales tools they want their team to leverage. They go out, do research and consume content to understand their options and let IT know what they need. IT then goes and scopes out what this solution would look like, dertermining the cost and challenges associated with it. How well would technical content focused on an IT Director perform when trying to attract the sales exec? Probably not so great…
Marketing Is Now a Hybrid IT Function That Uses Tech in Nearly Every Task
A marketing exec proposes a marketing stack that helps automate and report on their efforts, which help justify marketing spend. Marketing is not the team implementing this, but they are absolutely driving the buying decision. Additionally, cloud-based solutions are readily available to where Marketing Managers are now able to leverage tools for themselves to make themselves more effecient. All it takes is one demo of what they have in place to potentially drive a company roll-out.
HR Execs are Proposing HR Solutions that Manage All Recuriting, Hiring, and Employee Management All in One Central Location
The number of end-to-end HR platforms continues to grow by the day. HR leaders are proposing these to IT and ownership to get approved in order to make their team more effecient, to attract better talent, and to ultimately decrease any liability with existing employees.
If we look at a CRM or ERP system – all three of these needs and request could be the same solution for a single vertical. And this is just a small sample of the endless possibilities…
Understand Everyone the Solution Potentially Impacts
First – Who benefits the most from this solution? And be practical about it. A sales rep does not benefit from having to log his or her calls in a CRM tool, and therefore will likely not be the influencer who drives this solution up the chain. However, a sales rep does benefit from a company content management system that allows him or her to build a quick customer presentation from authorized slides that each department throughout the company has published.
Second – Who is impacted by this solution in any way? The obvious answer here is IT, as they will often be managing, it unless your firm is provided managed services for them. Consider pre, during, and post implementation when evaluating who is impacted in any way. Decision makers are now buying teams and not a person, so personas must be developed to consider each member of the team.
Once you’ve determined who these roles are you – it’s time to get to work developing primary and secondary personas.
Primary User Personas and Secondary Influencer Personas
Primary User Personas – Use these to identify who benefits the most from this solution. Include the normal stuff that any persona profile would have (if you don’t know this – contact us and we’ll send you a template we use). Understand that there can be multiple primary beneficiaries for the same solution in many cases. There can also be multiple ones within the same department. The Marketing Manager who is pitching a new analytics program that integrates with a company’s ERP system is probably explaning to the CMO how they can use it as well.
Secondary Influencer Personas – Develop these to identify who is going to be vetting this out. We know IT is – but the bottom line here is multiple departments and users are often affected. Additionally, buying teams make decisions now…now individuals. Personas must be developed to understand who these individuals are because they will be consuming content during their research phase. By the way – they often care about how THEY and THEIR TEAM are impacted…not how the primary user is.
Be Targeted With Your Content
The reality is, VARs and MSPs must create a large amount of personas as they are building multiple personas for all of the individuals within a buying team. Marketers understand that content must be very specific in order to “speak” to a specific role. For successful persona development to occur, VARs must create personas for all of the individauls on the buying team – even if they are not primary users. As a result, you end up creating content for two unique “buying journeys.” One persona is for the actual user is benefiting from the solution, and the other who is impacted by it in some way.
Getting started is the key – and it can be tough when there are so many unique people you may be trying to reach. Taking a shortcut of a “shotgun” approach that speaks to all the benefits may seem good, but it will end up reaching no one in the end.
Have your personas developed? Then you’re likely ready to get started developing content. If a solid strategy is in place, then you’re likely ready to or already developing content. We have developed a full playbook with 27 unique tactics that IT VARs and MSPs can leverage to help drive inbound leads. Check it out – and let us know what you think.