A solid Go-to-Market (GTM) strategy is crucial for any business that wants to succeed. But crafting an effective GTM isn’t easy. If you hope to sell your product, you need to intimately understand your target customer and market.
That’s where personas come in.
Personas are detailed fictional profiles of your ideal customers. They include demographics, behaviors, goals, frustrations, and more. In other words, personas are representations of the customer segments you aim to sell to.
These profiles are invaluable for GTM because they help you empathize with potential buyers. With accurate personas guiding your planning, you can create messaging and strategies that directly speak to customer needs. That means your marketing carries more impact, sales conversations become more productive, and ongoing product development efforts align with what users value most.
In this article, we’ll explore why personas matter for GTM and how to leverage them for success. You’ll learn:
- The elements of an effective customer persona
- How to build accurate personas
- How to integrate personas across all GTM activities from pricing strategies to sales scripts
So, if you want to boost the ROI of your Go-to-Market efforts, keep reading!
Key components of a customer persona
A great persona consists of both hard data and vivid narrative detail. To make it as robust as possible, you'll want to include key details such as:
- Demographic info like age, location, gender, income level, education, and family status
- Job characteristics such as role, responsibilities, seniority, department, industry, and company size
- Goals and challenges related to their work and the problem your product solves
- Behavior patterns describing their routines, habits, and tools used
- Motivations and priorities that drive decision-making
- Communication preferences detailing when and how you should get in touch with them
Keep in mind that the elements you need to include in your customer personas will vary depending on your product and target audience. For instance, if you’re selling task management software to enterprise customers, you’ll need to know about their job roles and responsibilities; if you’re selling sneakers to teens, not so much!
User vs. buyer personas in B2B
In the B2C realm, the buyer persona and user persona are often one and the same. However, B2B sales involve a lot more players. According to Gartner, the typical buying group involves six to 10 stakeholders. These stakeholders’ roles in the purchasing process might include one or more of the following:
- Initiator: Kicks off research into solving a problem
- User: Will directly use the product
- Influencer: Makes a case to others about purchasing
- Decision-maker: Gives final purchase approval
- Buyer: Owns budget/signs contracts
- Approver: Signs off on company-wide initiatives
- Gatekeeper: Can derail purchase approval
With so many cooks in the kitchen, it can help to create several user and buyer personas. User personas represent the end users and detail how they work and interact with your product. Buyer personas capture the perspectives of those steering final purchase decisions.
All these persona types are critical for B2B Go-to-Market strategy. You have to speak to the needs of those who would directly benefit from using your product, while also convincing higher-level decision-makers to buy into its value.
How to create your customer personas
Wondering where to begin crafting the personas that’ll shape your GTM strategy? Fear not! Here are the six essential steps to creating accurate and useful customer personas:
- Identify your stakeholders
- Set goals
- Tailor research and interview questions
- Conduct qualitative and quantitative research
- Look for trends
- Create and share persona documents
Now, let’s drill down into each step.
Step one: Identify your stakeholders
Your customer personas are going to be used cross-functionally throughout your GTM strategy and beyond, so you can’t create them in a vacuum. Figure out who else needs to be involved across departments like product, marketing, sales, and customer success, then bring them into the research process early.
Step two: Set goals
Now that you’ve looped your key stakeholders into the process, it’s time to clearly define what you want to achieve with your personas. Without clear goals, you may struggle to come up with the right questions for your persona interviews and surveys, making it unlikely that the personas you create will be useful.
To make sure your personas are valuable and not too lengthy, sit down with your stakeholders and brainstorm what they will use the personas for, and what information needs to be included to make this possible. Your persona documents should be pretty brief so you need to prioritize only the most vital intel.
During this session, take detailed notes, but don't make any promises. Later, you can evaluate the requests you’ve received and whittle them down to only the info you need to create the most effective personas.
Step three: Tailor your research and interview questions
Next, let your goals guide your interview and survey questions.
For example, let’s say you’re working for a productivity software company targeting small businesses. Your goal could be to uncover pain points around inefficient workflows and outdated tools.
In this case, you might want to ask the following questions to build your user personas:
- What are your day-to-day responsibilities?
- Who do you report to? What does your immediate team look like?
- Do you manage anyone else? If so, who?
- What takes up most of your time? What gets in the way of progress?
- What software platforms and tools do you rely on? Where are the gaps?
- Walk me through a typical workflow when completing key tasks.
And remember: when crafting your questions, try to focus on topics that challenge your assumptions and reveal new insights.
Step four: Conduct qualitative and quantitative research
Now you’ve carefully crafted your questions, it’s time to start asking them. You should aim to gather both qualitative and quantitative data from as many customers as possible.
On the quantitative side, surveys can provide scale. For instance, when Ali Hanyaloglu, VP of Product Marketing at Amplience, was revamping his organization’s personas, he surveyed over 500 respondents across different industries, seniorities, and use cases.
To get more in-depth info from your customers, interviews are the way to go. They allow you to really get to know your customers and their experiences, which can be hard to do through surveys alone.
When reaching out to potential interviewees, it's important to let them know that you’re not trying to sell them anything – just uncover insights that’ll help make their customer journey even better. You can even offer a small incentive, like a gift card, to show your appreciation for their time. And don't forget to ask for referrals to other potential interviewees!
Overall, the more diverse feedback you can gather from your customers, the better. So keep tweaking your outreach, and don't be afraid to cast a wide net. With quality data, you can build more accurate personas to make sure your GTM hits the mark.
Step five: Look for trends
Now comes the fun part – finding the patterns and insights buried in your research data. Pore over your interview transcripts and survey results, then start consolidating your findings into themes about major goals, roadblocks, workarounds, and motivations.
As patterns emerge, it’s a good idea to validate them with stakeholders and other internal data. For example, you might want to pitch an insight to the customer success team and find out if it chimes with their experience. If any of your findings seem totally out there, it’s a good idea to double-check them with a few more interviews.
Step six: Create and share persona documents
Finally, it’s time to synthesize your key insights into persona documents. How many you’ll need depends on your product and your target audience, but three to five is a good rule of thumb.
It's important to create vivid descriptions that make the personas feel like real people – but don't forget to support the narrative with hard facts on behaviors and attributes.
Once you've created the personas, it's important to socialize them across the stakeholder groups you identified earlier. This helps ensure that everyone is on the same page when it comes to understanding the target users and buyers. Remember, alignment is critical before integrating the personas into your strategy.
Integrating customer personas into your GTM
Now you’re armed with well-researched personas, you can use them to shape a more effective Go-to-Market strategy. Let’s dive into the key areas where your personas can make a difference.
Marketing and messaging
If you want to create effective marketing campaigns that resonate with each of your customer segments, then leveraging personas is the way to go. By doing so, you can tailor your messaging to address their pain points, preferred channels, and emotional drivers.
When you create your campaigns, you can use the details from your personas to inspire your copy, imagery, and calls to action. By speaking directly to your potential customers in a way that feels authentic to them, you'll be able to connect with them on a deeper level and increase your chances of conversion.
Sales enablement assets
It's important to provide your sales team with resources like battlecards, sales scripts, and discovery questions that are tailored to each buyer persona. This will help your reps speak to prospects in their language, pinpoint any problems they come up against, and position your product as the solution.
It’s also vital to help your reps understand the various relationships and dynamics within your prospects’ organizations. This includes identifying who holds the most sway in terms of budget and purchasing decisions. Armed with this knowledge, your reps will be better equipped to navigate the sales process.
Personas allow you to build launch assets – like landing pages, blog posts, videos, demos, and more – calibrated to the motivations of your different customer segments.
For instance, an enterprise IT buyer might appreciate technical proofs or a classic product demo reel. However, a startup founder persona will likely respond better to a stripped-down features overview told from a founder’s perspective.
When it comes to shaping pricing strategies, customer personas are your secret weapon.
Firstly, they help you understand what your customers value. For example, if your persona is a tech-savvy professional, they might be willing to pay a premium for cutting-edge features. On the other hand, a budget-conscious student persona may prioritize affordability.
Secondly, personas allow for segmented pricing. You can tailor your pricing models to different groups. Think of offering a basic version at a lower price point for price-sensitive personas, while putting premium features at a higher price for those who seek more value and can afford it.
Of course, there’s a lot that goes into building a pricing strategy – you can’t forget your overheads and profit margins – but your customers need to be at the heart of every pricing decision.
Post-launch monitoring and analysis
While moving on to the next big project is tempting, it's important to keep an eye on how your Go-to-Market strategies are playing out post-launch.
Your personas can play a part here, too; why not track your key metrics and KPIs for each type of customer and compare them to the overall data? Pay attention to how engaged customers are, how quickly they move through the buying process, and how long they stick around.
For instance, if you find that enterprise buyers like your product more than small businesses, you can then focus more on selling to enterprise buyers and allocate resources accordingly.
That’s a wrap!
In summary, personas form the very foundation of a successful GTM strategy. By creating personas, you can tailor your marketing and sales efforts to each type of customer, highlighting the value your product offers to them. This approach helps you efficiently convert buyers while empathizing with their needs.
But remember: creating customer personas is not a one-and-done process. Don't let your findings gather dust; continuously update your personas with fresh research to make your GTM strategy even more potent.
So, if you want your product to thrive in the market, start building your customer personas today, and embrace persona fluency as a lifelong skill. You won’t regret it!