Persona Targeting Basics for Manufacturing Companies

In today’s increasingly digital world, there are numerous ways for manufacturing companies to reach potential buyers — emails blasts, eBooksblog posts, social media, and even SMS texts can all be used to connect with target audiences and increase brand awareness. The whole point of inbound marketing is to entice your target customers to come to you on their own by providing valuable content that will help them reach their goals. Think of it as the antithesis of cold calling. But before embarking on any of these efforts, it’s crucial to fully understand the types of buyers you’re looking to target. So how do you go about creating the content that will attract the customers you want? Well, that depends on the customers themselves.

You may already be busy crafting informative, engaging emails or penning fascinating eBooks, but if you’re not customizing your content to the needs and interests of your specific audience, all that work will have been in vain.

Establishing a well-thought-out buyer persona will allow you to more effectively reach your target audience with content made just for them, increasing your chances of turning leads into customers.

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What Is A “Buyer Persona” And "Persona Targeting"

What is a persona, exactly, and what is persona targeting? A buyer persona is a piece of fiction based on fact of a character you create as a representation of your company’s buyers and potential buyers. By creating a buyer persona, companies can develop a clearer idea of who their buyers are and what they’re looking for in a specific product, service, and partner — all of which will be determined by specific data points you’ll need to gather. 

A buyer persona is comprised of customer demographics, behavior patterns, buying motivations, and overall goals. Persona targeting is about compiling that data and organizing it in a way that helps you create the right content to reach your audience where they are. Creating distinct personas will help you determine where to focus your marketing efforts — like through display ads, email newsletters, or sponsored articles. The more you build on your personas, the better you can navigate product development and other business growth strategies.

For example, more manufacturers have generated more leads from display ads on online platforms where their buyers do their jobs everyday.

Learn Where You Can Post Display Ads 

How To Develop Personas For Your Manufacturing Business

When developing a buyer persona, you’re creating a stereotype about the type of people who would be interested in your product or service. Any tidbit of information you can obtain about your targeted buyers can be hugely beneficial here.

What do you need to know about your buyers in order to craft effective content marketing that speaks directly to their needs? Well, everything. Okay, I guess you don’t need to know what kind of bagel flavor they prefer. But you do need to know everything that could possibly impact how they do business.

On the most basic level, take a look at the potential buyers’ jobs and the way they do those jobs — their patterns, goals, motivations, the demographic makeup of their company, and the companies they do business with. How do your targeted customers go about the purchasing process? How do they approach each fiscal year? How can you best assist and guide them?

Keep in mind that these people aren’t simply just serving a company function. They’re unique, messy, flawed, and sometimes irrational human beings. So, if you can tap into these other aspects of their personality and reach them on a more personal, engaging level, you’re already a step ahead of the game.

Think about what stresses them out. What motivates them? If you put a bunch of these personas in a room together, what binge-worthy Netflix show would they discuss? This stuff may seem silly, but it can make a huge difference in fully understanding the type of buyers you’re dealing with.

Take the time to truly understand your targets. The most basic information you should have should be their business, their objectives, their obstacles, weaknesses, and strengths.

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Research Your Current Customers

To get more information about your prospective customers, start off with what you already know about your current customers. Supplement that with information from trade magazines, general research, and sourcing data (like this one from Q4 2019!). Think especially hard about the following considerations and document them. Tables tend to work well, but whatever method you choose should mesh with your personal work style and that of your team. 

What are your buyers doing?

What exactly are your buyers doing at their jobs? Are they decision-makers? Think about your potential buyers’ job titles and what their typical day look like. Your job as a seller is to make your buyers’ lives easier. To do that, you need to know their pain points, which inevitably tie directly into their relationships with their colleagues. Ask yourself who their bosses are and how their performance is assessed. Or, if your buyers manage others, how can you help them improve performance in the workplace?

What do your buyers want?

Presumably, you’re dealing with a group of professionals who show up to work with some sort of goals in mind. What are those goals, and what is it you offer that can help them reach their objectives? Keep in mind that there are different measures of what it means to be successful, so this isn’t necessarily a no-brainer. Don’t jump to conclusions about what your buyers are trying to accomplish.

What do your buyers look like?

As a manufacturing and industrial business, you probably aren’t dealing with toddlers and teenagers here. Still, adults operate very differently depending on what decade of life they’re navigating. Generation matters a great deal, too. Are you trying to attract baby boomers, Gen Xers, or millennials? What’s important to each of those groups? Also think about education levels, political leanings, marital status, and concerns specific to folks in their geographical locations. Be wary of over-stereotyping, but remember that demographics matter.

What are your buyers’ autopilot settings?

You start brushing your teeth in the same spot every time, don’t you? Getting dressed, you either go sock-sock, shoe-shoe or sock-shoe, sock-shoe. Your buyers are creatures of habit and preference, too. When they have a question, they may be the type to instantly turn to Google, or they may be the type to stick their head out of their office and ask somebody. Some like email, whereas some like phone calls. Still others like in-person interactions.

Their jobs require a very particular set of skills. What are they? When they go hunting for resources that will make them better at what they do, are they turning to blogs, newspapers, trade publications, formal educational opportunities, or mentors? Which ones, specifically?

Thomas has compiled a lot of data and research into B2B buyers for manufacturers and industrial companies. Bookmark How To Meet The Needs Of B2B Buyers to save and read later!

Create Distinct Persona Categories

As you research, you'll likely have more than one “type” of person you'll want to reach. Therefore, it’s smart to create separate, customized buyer personas for distinct groups — engineers, MROs, procurement managers, and whatever other segments of the industry population you’re trying to reach. Take the time to understand these buyers, how they differ, and what they have in common with one another.

Successful persona segmenting will ensure your digital marketing efforts are reaching the right people at the right time, allowing you to connect with qualified buyers without wasting precious resources. A Google Display Network ad may have a one image to target procurement managers in Washington and another image to target procurement managers in the MidWest.

Top Resource: Display vs. Search vs. Social Ads vs. PPC in Paid Advertising

Build Campaigns Based On Your Persona Research

Now it's time to begin your first industrial marketing campaign — or reevaluate your current ones depending on which stage of industrial digital marketing you're in. You’ve put a face to your buyer and you’ve also strengthened your ability to create real value for your clients. Not only will you be better equipped to attract the visitors, leads, and customers you really want, you’ll also be better prepared to serve them according to their specific needs and goals. 

Although your targets have been defined, you may still need to develop your personas based on how buyer habits change — and they change pretty often. Remember, the more you know about your target audience, the more effectively you can draw them to you without wasting anyone’s time (or your budget).

Adjust your collateral and messaging to ensure you’re speaking directly to each distinct group and maximizing the impact of your communications. Attract buyers through paid advertising with content you know they need to make their job easier, like how-to eBooks or guides — we've listed out some other content marketing examples here to get you started.

If you're still challenged along the way, don't worry — many manufacturers and industrial companies are. Creating quality content that generates more leads is a lot of work. Contact industrial marketing experts to partner with your team so you can have more time on your plate to grow your business.

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