Having a detailed understanding of your ideal customer is a key starting point for a truly comprehensive marketing strategy. To gain this insight, initiate a buyer persona exercise with all the key stakeholders from sales, marketing, support, product management, operations, development, etc. Broader input will yield more detailed insight into these personas. It is important to the success of this exercise to have senior executive buy in and participation.
This is not a new concept, yet this is so often glossed over or completely overlooked. It is important to eliminate assumptions about the buyers and really understand why buyers choose the solutions they do. You also need to understand what answers they are looking for and how your buyer defines success. To find this information, interview recent buyers to understand what they were up against when they made the buying decision, what were their decision criteria at every stage of the buying process, who else was involved in the buying process, and how the buyer finally arrived at the decision. Basically you need to develop in-depth expertise about your buyers in order to successfully market to them.
There are many resources available to help with this exercise, but I would start with Adele Revella’s website Buyer Persona as she offers some excellent resources to get this process started. Sirius Decisions is another excellent resource, as they have also written specifically on the B2B aspects the buyer persona and provide detailed guidance on how best to complete the exercise.
Once the research on the buyer personas is complete, the logical next step is some additional research into the goals of the company, not just revenue goals, but the long-term vision and strategic plan for the company. The ideal approach is to conduct internal interviews with all executives and key stakeholders within the company, what has been effective and less effective, and their long-term assumptions. It is often worthwhile to hold a session offsite with an outside consultant to discuss the findings of the discovery process and begin to layout
the longer term vision and strategic plan.
The ideal outcome of this process is to define a plan and vision for the company for the next few years that would include where the company wants to be from a revenue perspective, how the company wants to be perceived in the market, and who makes up the company’s target market, as well as what solutions they will offer and who they may partner with to get there. The process also should cover determining the ideal sales model and channel strategy (if appropriate) to achieve these goals.
The most important part of this process is to ensure that there is a plan in place for the key stakeholders to know which initiatives they own, a clear set of metrics to measure success, and a timeline for execution and delivery. As the definition of the plan and vision can be very time consuming, make sure that there is enough time set aside for the execution and delivery planning and that every initiative has a clear owner, timeline, and agreed upon set of metrics. Set up quarterly meetings to follow up on the progress compared to the metrics set forth and to tweak the goals as required to allow for shifts in the market.
This blog post is an excerpt from the eBook Marketers Making a Difference: Volume 3 about creating a comprehensive B2B marketing strategy.
Buyer Personas and Company Goals: How to Research Your Marketing Plan