Often, messaging is focused on a product and its features — but it shouldn’t be. Messaging should be focused on a persona, and how that product (or service) impacts them at their level of an organization. It’s all part of a strategy Sri Sundaralingam calls “persona-based marketing,” which Sri unpacked on a recent episode of the B2B Revenue Acceleration podcast.
Sri is a CMO Advisor & Consultant for cybersecurity startups, with previous head of marketing positions at Symantec, Shape Security, and others
What is persona-based marketing?
“Persona” refers to the central element of really understanding your buyers. Yes, it’s foundational — which is why it often goes overlooked.
Essentially, you must:
- Understand the different buyers, influencers, and evaluators for your product or service
- Know their pain points
- Speak their language
- Understand their mission-critical priorities
- Be aware of projects for which they are responsible
Different personas at different levels of an organization will have a variety of answers to these elements. A mid-level manager will clearly have different pain points than a frontline individual contributor. So, the messaging and positioning will change, even within the same potential account or B2B prospect, depending on which influencer or decision-maker you’re targeting.
When you understand the above elements and how they relate to different personas, you are able to build your marketing, messaging, and positioning. From there, you can enable your sales team with assets to speak to different types of buyers, empathize with them, and know which pain points they are going through at what time.
Knowing the buyer means knowing their pain points, critical priorities, projects they’re driving, and how to speak their language.
Sri Sundaralingam – CMO Advisor & Consultant
Persona-based marketing enhances the effectiveness of ABM
There’s an inherent connection between persona-based marketing and ABM, but they have key differences. For one, you can use persona-based marketing without having to employ ABM.
Example of persona-based marketing without ABM:
Let’s assume your organization focuses on large enterprise organizations, but the industry doesn’t matter — you’re simply targeting companies with over 1,000 employees.
In that scenario, you really aren’t using ABM at all, but you should use persona-based marketing to create messaging targeted at evaluators, influencers, and key decision-makers across those organizations.
Example of persona-based marketing with ABM:
If, on the other hand, you slim down to a particular list of say 5,000 accounts who are fintech companies with 500+ employees based in EMEA, you are now likely using an ABM strategy. You can greatly enhance the effectiveness of this ABM strategy by also using persona-based marketing
Once you have your list (ABM), then, by level in the company, specific pain points, etc., marketers can enable the sales team to target certain individuals with those accounts using specifying messaging designed for individuals (persona-based marketing).
Persona infers you must really know your buyer. It’s such a foundational element for sales and marketing, but sometimes it’s forgotten.
Sri Sundaralingam – CMO Advisor & Consultant
The sales team has the answers on who your personas are
The alignment and involvement of the sales team and the marketing team within a persona-based marketing approach are crucial.
The sales team is already going after prospects. So, when a marketing team is initiating a persona-based marketing approach, they should consult with the sales manager (and sales team) to understand which personas are involved with a given purchasing decision.
Specifically, the sales team will help marketers understand:
- Who is the evaluator?
- Who has the budget?
- Who has the final decision?
Pro tip: Besides the sales team, another good area of research marketers can use when determining what personas to target, are analyst reports, such as Forrester or IDC.
Driving persona-based marketing alignment with the sales team
The sales team will formulate their own strategy without marketing, if necessary, because the sales team already knows the same messaging doesn’t work at different levels. By experience, the sales team has discovered a profound truth.
Your messaging must relate to an individual’s day-to-day business.
So, sales likely already has different messaging developed for the different levels of buyers within an account — even if that messaging isn’t documented, is informal, or only exists within the brains of the sales team.
Here’s a few tips for organizations on driving alignment between the sales team and marketing team, specifically within persona-based marketing:
- Engage early on with the sales team, letting them know which assets and messaging you are producing, and why.
- Be willing to adjust as you go.
To find out more about persona-based marketing, connect with Sri Sundaralingam, CMO Advisor & Consultant for cybersecurity startups.
To hear this interview, and many more like it, you can subscribe to The B2B Revenue Acceleration Podcast on Apple Podcasts, on Spotify, or on our website.