How to Elevate B2B Buyer Personas Through Strategic Survey Insights

Posted on by Jim Kraus

Built from one-on-one interviews, buyer personas provide foundational knowledge about a buyer’s journey from the moment they have a need for a solution you offer until the time they make a final buying decision. Integrating survey research will enhance and further validate these insights, offering a more impactful view across key segments of your market.

Demystifying Buyer Personas

Before we discuss how surveys can enhance buyer personas, it’s critical to debunk common misconceptions about what they are and what they are not:

Buyer Persona: A detailed blueprint providing deep insights into specific buying decisions, including purchase triggers, desired outcomes, concerns, key decision criteria and the buyer’s journey.

Buyer Profile: Often mistaken for a persona, a buyer profile merely describes characteristics of individuals or roles involved in the buying decision with little to no insight into what actually influences it.

Buyer personas that include insights about the buying decision provide precise guidelines for crafting transformative marketing strategies. In contrast, buyer profiles, which lack this depth, often require you to rely on conjecture to fill significant informational gaps.

From One-On-One Interviews to Strategic Surveys

Marketers who use one-on-one interviews with prospective buyers to develop buyer personas gain deep insights into their potential customers’ needs and preferences. These qualitative discussions reveal critical decision-making factors and the entire buying decision journey from the buyer’s perspective, uncovering detailed motivations that drive purchases.

Incorporating survey research adds breadth and further validation. Surveys engage a broader segment of the target market, enhancing the statistical reliability of the insights and providing a more comprehensive view that supports strategic marketing decisions. This approach ensures a robust understanding of buyer behavior, crucial for crafting effective marketing and sales strategies.

Now let’s dive into the key ways that surveys can enhance your buyer personas:

Confirming and Validating Insights:

Broadening the research through surveys helps confirm the initial insights are accurate and representative of a larger market. This step increases confidence in the buyer persona’s validity, which is crucial for creating organizational buy-in and developing effective marketing strategies.

Determining the Relative Importance of Buyer Expectations:

Surveys are particularly effective in recognizing which buyer expectations are most and least crucial. Doing so helps marketers prioritize features or messages that will influence the buying decision the most.

Testing Marketing Messages and Value Propositions:

Surveys provide an excellent platform to test and refine marketing messages before they are rolled out. By presenting various messaging concepts to the target audience, companies can determine which messages resonate best. This testing can be structured to assess messages based on clarity, relevance, uniqueness and persuasiveness.

Understanding Buyer Segments:

Surveys can help uncover significant differences in preferences and priorities across different market segments, such as variances by company size, industry or geographical location. These insights are critical for customizing marketing strategies that are more precisely aligned with the needs of specific buyer groups.

Methods to Consider

Incorporating advanced survey techniques can significantly enhance the depth and accuracy of your buyer persona insights. Here are some methods to consider:

Top Selections: Ask buyers to identify the top one or two decision criteria from a list that are most critical in their buying decision. It can be equally informative to request buyers to select the one or two least important criteria, providing a clear view of priorities.

Ranking Exercise: Have buyers rank a series of desired outcomes from buying the solution. This method prioritizes buyer objectives that are the most important and informs where you focus your messaging, thought leadership efforts and case studies.

Chip Allocation: Distribute a fixed number of points or “chips” (e.g., 100) that buyers can allocate among various decision criteria according to their importance. This technique quantifies the significance buyers assign to each criterion, offering a more precise understanding of their preferences.

Ratings Scale: Have buyers rate different messages or features on a 10-point scale evaluating aspects like clarity, relevance and differentiation. This feedback can refine messaging to better meet buyer expectations and stand out in the market.

Choice-Based Exercises: Implement more advanced techniques like Maximum Difference Scaling to have buyers choose the most and least important decision criteria from a set of 4-5 that appear randomly in the survey. This approach not only identifies key priorities but also helps in understanding the relative importance of each criterion through repeated comparisons.

An Integrated Approach to Drive Confidence

Surveys are a crucial tool in the market researcher’s arsenal, significantly enhancing the depth, accuracy and applicability of buyer personas. By combining insights from one-on-one interviews with data collected from surveys, marketers can achieve a more nuanced understanding of their target audiences. This integrated approach not only bolsters confidence in marketing strategies but also provides actionable insights that can drive more successful outcomes.

Jim Kraus is President of Buyer Persona Institute.


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