Zeroing In On Your Target With Consulting Buyer Personas

misterymanThis is the part where we peek inside your brain to see how much you really know about your business.

If you read our intro post to content marketing and, learned the questions prospects ask during the buying process, you could just stop here and start brainstorming ideas for blog posts, case studies and other content.

After all, you know your services offerings by heart.

But, what about your clients?

What about all of those little situational nuggets that keep playing back in your head? You know, the stories prospects love to hear.

Like that time when you worked on a governance project for a Fortune 500 company that was running like a “Mom & Pop Shop”.

How about when you got the business to buy-in for a charge back model at a client where IT “pays for everything”? Or, how you brokered a political mine-field to get business heads to come together on an enterprise initiative?

These situational insights are the icing on the cake. They go beyond best practices and show your flexibility and depth.

They also kick-start your creative process and help you tap that endless string of ideas wrapped around your brain.

All of that good stuff is captured by creating buyer personas for your target clients.

The Need for a Consulting Focused Persona

Per Adele Revella, buyer personas are:

examples of the real buyers who influence or make decisions about the products, services or solutions you market. They are a tool that builds confidence in strategies to persuade buyers to choose you rather than a competitor or the status quo.

Marketers have been using them for eons to make sure their products, services and messaging measures up with customer expectations. They use focus groups, surveys and other means to draw up fictional representation of who they believe are their likely customers. An educated guess, if you will.

For B2C companies like Coca-Cola and The Gap, this exercise is critical. How likely is a product launch to succeed if you haven’t taken the time to look at who’s going to buy it and why?

In the B2B space, especially in consulting, the game changes a little bit.

Traditional buyer personas include demographic information such as age, gender, education, family size, and household income to draw a picture of who “Bobby Buyer” really is.

Unfortunately, a lot of this information is irrelevant to us.

If your prospect is a CIO who’s tasked with reducing operational costs, it doesn’t matter if they went to Harvard or Oswego State. The need remains the same.

A better way to look at our target buyer is to focus on particulars of their role, objectives, challenges and overall business environment that is unique to them.

As Ardath Albee puts it, “personas must help us identify how we can help buyers manage and expedite change”.

Think of it this way:

1. Understanding the customer buying process lays the foundation for your marketing content
2. Buyer personas add the nuance

Creating Consulting Buyer Personas

Creating a proper buyer persona is actually pretty simple. You just need the right questions to ask, access to clients (past, present or future), and Microsoft Word.

I’ve got you covered on the first part. You can download our Consulting Buyer Persona Template here.

The questions contained are centered on identifying your prospect’s:

  • Responsibilities and objectives
  • Organizational and political landscape
  • Ability to influence change
  • Understanding of and alignment with your solutions and offerings

The rest is up to you. Here are some things to remember:

  1. This isn’t a test. You won’t fail because you left sections unanswered. Just focus on getting as much info you can and know when to call it a day.
  2. Consulting is a relationship business. Our job is client facing and we don’t have the luxury of guessing what their needs are. Don’t just sit behind your desk. Pick up the phone or get out and meet some people.
  3. If your consulting area is broad (e.g. Management Consulting), consider doing a persona focusing on one specific offering (e.g. Corporate Strategy Review). This exercise can go off the rails if you try to boil the ocean. Keep it focused.
  4. There is no ideal number of personas to create.  Build what you need.  At a minimum, you should create at least one persona per service offering to keep your marketing content up to date.

Next Steps

After you’ve completed the personas, it’s time to start assembling a content game plan to get some stuff published.

In my next post, we’ll identify some specific content, discuss how to plan your publishing cycle and lay out the prep work that needs to happen to start spreading the news.

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