The pandemic is going to leave a lasting change in how we do business, and buyer behavior will change. Many executives we talk to are using this time to reset, change their processes, and B2B product marketers need to take this opportunity to review and adjust how they approach their buyers. This article shares some of those changes and what B2B marketers need to do to react.
Personas should be part of a marketing bible or manifesto, as crucial as the brand book or style guide, referred to often throughout a project or campaign and a cornerstone of a content marketing strategy.
However, regularly reviewing buyer and audience personas is something all marketing organizations should do, but we rarely get round to it. We produce some fantastic colorful documents at the start of something, we are newly hired, or we change messaging, and shortly afterward, they get tucked into a virtual draw.
Well, now there is a need. Changes are happening in the market and marketers need to understand how these are impacting their buyers and influencers. Here are four buying trends we are seeing and how they could impact existing personas.
Some buyers that demonstrated a need for growth could now be more risk-averse, looking to maintain what they have. The buyer will probably need to work with less, not just less budget, but fewer people and have more executive oversite. And, having had a sudden change in the business, even the laggards will be talking about being agile.
Vendors will need to understand which buyers have changed gears and demonstrate ROI, reduce risk, reduce costs, simplification, and agility.
The pandemic has changed many people’s attitudes about things like travel, the environment, their relationship with work, health security, and politics. These values may remain after the pandemic, changing the way they view a product, how it’s positioned, or their emotional needs around the problem it solves.
Vendors need to reach out to clients and their direct sales channel and understand the sentiment of their audience as broadly as possible, as these feelings won’t be universal. Marketers need to take a sensitive and nuanced approach in telling and presenting the product story, and it may be that this splits an existing persona into two, based on these values.
Change in the purchase process
Budget sign off has probably moved up the organization as spending gets reviewed.
Vendors will need to dust down that executive persona and be telling a story that supports selling higher to someone probably unfamiliar with the detail of the market or solution. The executive will need to understand the value of the solution through a different level of educational content.
Change in the buyer’s journey
While most B2B marketers recognize that a buyer will touch a lot of digital content before getting in touch with a sales rep, with no events, executive networking, or physical sales calls virtual selling has gone mainstream as the only game in town.
Vendors will need to understand the early and later stages of the buyer’s journey more deeply.
At one end, product marketers need to understand what happens when a potential buyer recognizes the pain or triggers them to research a solution so that the marketing will build that virtual relationship sooner. This research will probably uncover a need for a deeper influencer marketing or analyst relations program.
And, at the other end of the journey vendors will need to understand what’s required to nurture the opportunity to close. Not just the buyers need, but also needs of the salesperson or the channel; now they are working virtually. (I strongly recommend having sales and channel partners as personas, not just buyers and influencers).
That’s just four things we are currently seeing through our executive conversations, and if you need help refreshing your personas, we can help – get in touch.