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Getting insight through buyer personas

By ZoomInsights staff

Like all lasting relationships, in marketing it’s all about making the right connection. While you might be peddling the end-all product or service, matching it with the right clients is crucial to a successful marketing campaign.

But as any matchmaker will tell you, matchmaking can be tricky. That’s why more marketers are turning to the practice of creating buyer personas, an exercise that can help instruct who to target and with what message. The process includes discovering key insights about potential customers, building an appropriate number of personas and focusing on specific goals.

Buyer personas “help marketers make better decisions about a few key areas of a marketing program, including which aspects of the product or service are top of mind for the buyer, and how the buyer is thinking about the benefits” of the product or service, said Adele Revella, founder of the Buyer Persona Institute and author of “The Buyer Persona Manifesto.” She told ZoomInsights that when done correctly, establishing buyer personas serves as a potent reality check. “It’s just amazing how often companies are off target about this.”


The Five Rings of Insight

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Among the most critical components of buyer persona creation is uncovering what Revella terms the “Five Rings of Insight.” These “rings” give marketers inside information about how buyers evaluate a given solution, such as the Priority Initiative insight, which illuminates “what’s different about the buyers who actually go forward and buy, what success means to them and whether it’s one particular aspect of the solution that defines success or the overall initiative.”

The insights also include a candid look at perceived barriers to success — attitudes and negative perceptions about the company or a specific product that would stop someone from closing the deal. Here again, probing the tough questions often becomes an exercise in perception vs. reality. “Frequently, it’s not obvious to the buyer how our product is addressing the benefits they want to achieve,” Revella said, offering marketers a bit of advice she recently read: “You can’t read the label on the jar you’re in.”

Acquiring the coveted information requires marketers to get out of their own heads. “We are not trying to just build a description of whom the buyer is and that’s the end. This doesn’t help me be a better marketer,” she said. Revella said it’s necessary to interview people and get the buyers to tell you their stories.

Rather than look at marketing as B2B or B2C, Revella said it’s more helpful to assess “high consideration vs. low consideration” purchasing decisions. For low-consideration situations, the purchase is impulsive. But for complex purchases — often the case in B2B — buyers usually can walk you through their decision-making process, she said.

Revella suggests calling both buyers and those who took a pass after a recent campaign, “assuring them you’re not selling anything but looking to have a candid conversation about what worked and what didn’t.” Revella added, “They won’t take that call, but then you follow up with an email asking them to take me back to the day when you first decided to evaluate our company’s solutions. What happened…”

The success rate for this interviewing method? Based on Revella’s own research, three out of 10 people will call you back or take your call and one of three “won’t let you off the phone after 30 minutes.”

Once you’ve got them on the line, be sure to ask probing follow-up questions, she advised. “The biggest thing people do wrong is ask a question and move on. A buyer’s first answer to any question is the answer you already know. It can be a little uncomfortable — a little bit of a cultural issue at first — but you don’t have to be a professional researcher to do this. They’ll talk.”


Once you’ve developed buyer personas, ZoomInfo data experts can help you find prospects who are like the personas created. ZoomInfo can search its profiles of 65 million businesspeople and 6 million companies by more than 20 criteria, to product the exact segment you need. Learn more.