Marketing professionals know that identifying the right target audience is vital in B2B.
The trouble is that it’s often easier to think about things other than the customer – and that can set you off in a completely wrong direction. As the Cheshire Cat observes in Lewis Carroll’s classic book “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” – “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.”
It’s an ironic observation which spells out the importance of having clear goals and direction in life. And that certainly applies to B2B segmentation and marketing too.
So, here are 7 simple ways to put your B2B targeting strategy on the right path:
1. Collaborate with the sales / service teams
Formalizing the relationship between marketing and the sales / service teams is a great place to start. This is typically where the B2B cash register rings, so to speak. Start by clearly understanding:
• Who is your company currently selling to?
• What are they buying?
• How are they purchasing? When? Where?
• Why do they choose your company over competitors?
Never underestimate the power of a face-to-face meeting with your top reps. It is critical that all marketing efforts accurately reflect the ways sales / service personnel are representing your company.
2. Look at your existing customer base
Cross-selling / up-selling existing customers is a proven way to build new revenue. Seek to understand their common needs and buying patterns. It can be hugely helpful to look at data from a CRM / Customer Relationship platform (such as Salesforce or HubSpot). Seek to identify factors that influence customer loyalty – to help inform customer retention strategies. Look to improve the customer experience as well. And remember, current customers can also be an excellent source of referrals for the sales team.
3. Conduct primary market research
Primary marketing research can be simple and straightforward. Online techniques make qualitative customer interviews or focus groups easier than ever via Zoom or Teams. Of course, phone interviews are still valuable. But online surveys using tools like Survey Monkey are fast, efficient, and inexpensive.
Seek to gain insights on customer needs, challenges, and pain points. You’re trying to boil down the 4 or 5 key points of “what matters most to customers”. This will hone your thinking but can also focus your marketing investment for greatest payback.
Use this learning to inform marketing strategies and messaging – featuring salient end benefits vs. simple product / service attributes. Social media listening on platforms like LinkedIn can be a great source of feedback. You can also use of tools like Hootsuite or Sprout Social to monitor social media conversations about your brand and business sector.
4. Segment your target audience
Segment your audience, starting with “firmographics” such as company size, geographic location, industry segment, and revenue potential.
Then add in customer behaviors like purchase history, website interaction and B2B social media engagement.
You’re trying to reach ‘the decision-making unit’ (DMU). This comprises the various decision-makers in the B2B buying process – such as C-suite executives, finance officers, department heads and end users to help tailor messages to meet their (slightly) different needs, wants and buying preferences.
Seek to meet “pain-points” or business challenges / opportunities or inefficiencies – tuning your proposition / sales pitch to these needs.
Consider using psychographics such as values and attitudes which reflect both rational and emotional needs and wants. Emotional oriented marketing messages are often overlooked in B2B marketing. However, when emotional storytelling is employed in the right way, it creates powerful marketing effects. As the old saying goes numbers numb, stories sell.
5. Use buyer personas
Personas (or, for the classicists among us, personae) are fictional representations of your ideal customer segments. These pen portraits are based on insights provided by your own sales / services organizations, CRM data analytics, and market research.
Each persona should reflect the needs, preferences, pain points and decision-making processes of real customers/prospects. This approach can inform bespoke messaging, and ways to improve the customer experience. They can also inform product / service development and guide sales strategies.
6. Monitor industry / competitive trends
Industry reports from research firms like Forrester, Gartner and McKinsey can provide valuable insights on market trends, customer behavior, growth opportunities and industry benchmarks.
Investment analysts’ reports on your competition are also helpful. Try listening in online to your competitor’s quarterly earnings reports for direct insights from their senior management.
Vertical industry media trade sites and trade associations are often great sources of information. Conferences and events offer speaker insights and networking opportunities. Webinars and podcasts featuring industry experts are also helpful. In addition, comprehensive competitive analysis can provide insights and benchmark best practices.
7. SWOT Analysis
In the end, it can be helpful to roll up all this information into a “SWOT” analysis – which formalizes Strengths and Weaknesses (from the inside-out) and Opportunities and Threats (from the outside environment reflecting competitors and the broader business sector).
This exercise can help a marketing organization gain a better understanding of the organization’s position in the marketplace. You can then develop more effective marketing strategies that leverage strengths and mitigate risks from potential weaknesses. It can also help align marketing strategies with the firm’s overall business strategy.
Overall, identifying the right B2B target audience requires a combination of research, disciplined analysis, and a concerted effort at collaborating within the organization. By creating and following a disciplined process, you can develop a better understanding of your primary B2B target audience segments. In turn, your marketing campaigns will be more effective at feeding the top of the funnel, helping drive long-term profitable growth for your company. This will be music to the ears of any savvy senior management team.
Share and tag us @alwaysbecontent