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Author's profile photo Jeffrey D'Silva

Know your audience – Personas provide a complete picture of your buyers

You’ve got a great SAP business and you’re proud of what you deliver. Now you need to communicate your awesomeness to the world, and how you can help them achieve their goals and solve their problems – this is where marketing comes in!

If you are an SAP partner who is looking to learn more about marketing or review the fundamentals, then this post is for you!

Imagine you’ve just executed a great marketing strategy, which communicates the message: “Let us help you complete your sales reporting tasks fast, so you have more time to focus on your financial planning!”. Sounds like a good value proposition, right?

But what if your buyers are not concerned about reporting? What if they’re more interested in the security features of your offering, or your ability to deploy effectively? Your team might be more than capable of meeting these needs as well, but if you are not communicating these specific abilities, then you risk being overlooked!

When planning your marketing strategy, it’s crucial to know your buyers so that you can craft messages that speak directly to them and their needs.

Who are your buyers?

Who are your buyers?  Maybe you’ll describe their role, or the industry or line of business in which they work. So you might say, “my customer works in healthcare,” or “my customers are field-service agents.”

What are their short- and long-term needs and goals?

And at a high level, that’s fine. But now, try to think about them from the following standpoints:

  • Their daily tasks and responsibilities
  • Their definitions of success – short and long-term KPIs to achieve, skills to perfect, qualities to have
  • Their professional goals, and the alignment of these goals with those of their managers and subordinates
  • Their blockers to success – for example, dependencies, sub-optimized skills or lack of resources
  • Features of your offering that would entice them to select it
  • Barriers that prevent them from selecting your offering

Focus on decision-makers and not just users

And of course, you want to focus your efforts on the individuals that influence the decision to select your offering – these could very-well be the end-users, but they could also be higher-level employees with completely different priorities.

A persona is a documented picture of your buyer

As you answer these questions, you will start to paint a “picture” of the customers who would select your offering. This picture or generalized representation of your customer that you create is called a persona

Creating personas helps you to relate to your customers as real humans, and it helps you help you understand the specific needs and goals of your customers and prospects.

Create a persona record for each type of buyer

Not only should you define personas, but you should document their traits into persona records. Persona records are useful because:

  • They act as the single source of truth about your personas (although you can change them as many times as needed)
  • They can be shared with new employees to the team to ramp them up quickly on the company’s sales and marketing targets
  • Physical documents better delineate the differences between your personas, compared to storing everything in your head

How do you build a persona record?

In general, to build a persona record, 1) answer questions about your buyer’s professional experiences, and then 2) map the findings for each buyer type into a persona template.

Answer questions about your buyers’ current professional experiences

Answer the following questions about your buyers – and remember to focus on the individuals that influence the decision to select your offering:

Goal Details Questions to ask

Identify your buyers

At a high level, determine what industry or line of business your buyers work in, and then at a lower level, determine the roles they have.

Answer these questions for customers you have, but also for customer segments you want to have in the future (for example, are you looking to add additional industries to serve or geographical regions?)

  • What is their company size?
    • Large enterprise
    • SME
    • Mom and pop shop
  • What geography or region do they belong to?
  • In what industry or line of business do they work?
  • What is their role or title?
Develop empathy
for your buyers

Understand what they need to accomplish in their role: their KPIs, goals to achieve, problems to solve

  • What are their short-term KPIs?
  • What are their long-term KPIs?
  • What does it mean for them to be successful?
  • How would their managers or stakeholders define them as successful?
  • What skills and qualities are required for success?
  • What are their professional goals?
  • What are their blockers to success – for example, dependencies, or lack of skills or resources
  • What other needs do they have to help meet their KPIs and goals?
  • What would best help them achieve their KPIs and goals
Understand your buyers’
job to be done

Understand the work your personas do on a daily basis, and how it contributes to or takes away from achieving their KPIs and goals?

  • What are their daily tasks?
  • Which tasks contribute to KPI/goal attainment?
  • Which tasks are required but do not contribute to KPIs/goal attainment
  • Which tasks would they rather delegate or automate?
  • What would help them complete their tasks more efficiently or quickly?
Synchronize your offering with buyer personas

Think about how your offering can help your personas with attaining their KPIs and goals, or completing their daily tasks. Think about how it has helped your current customers.

Finally think about your competition and lost deals – ask yourself why companies are selecting them instead of you

  • What business optimization (i.e. Cloud, Analytics, BI Data, etc.), technology or product would they benefit from?
  • How would your offering help them with attaining their KPIs or goals?
  • How would your offering help them with completing their daily tasks?
  • Why did your current customers select your offering?
  • How do your current customers win with your offering?
  • Why did your lost deals not select your offering?
  • Why did your lost deals select the competition?
  • How do your lost deals win with the competition?
  • Does the competition support customer segments (i.e. geographies, industries, verticals, etc.) that you are not? Can you target this segment as well? Should you target it? Do you want to target it?

Remember that it’s possible to have multiple answers for each question – in such cases, you will want to consider creating multiple buyer types.

Map your findings into a persona template

Once you have answered the questions above, map the characteristics of each buyer type into a persona template that organizes their traits into groups your sales and marketing team will find useful. Here’s a template you can use, but feel free to use any type of template you wish.

Give your personas a name

It’s recommended to give each of your personas a name (“Cheryl the CEO”, “Amy in Healthcare Data Analysis”, “Sam the Field Ops Manager”). This acts as a reminder that your personas reflect actual human beings who have real goals, needs and challenges that you can help them achieve and solve.

You can have one or multiple personas

Based on the answers you provide from the questions above, it will become obvious whether a single persona describes all your buyers or if you have multiple personas with unique needs and goals – for example, if your target market is narrow and focused, one persona might be enough, but if your buyers work in different roles, industries, geographies, etc., it might make more sense to have individual persona records for each of these buyer types.

Whatever you decide is OK, and remember that you can always change your mind later!

Sample persona

Here’s an example of a fully fleshed out persona. This one in particular is based on actual interactions with several decision makers in the HR line of business.

Additional tips

Feel free to add, remove and enhance your records

When you create persona records, think of it as an iterative exercise that you do on a yearly or semi-annual basis. As you learn more about your buyers, or as the market winds change, it makes sense to go back to your persona records and make some updates. You might even merge multiple records into one or split a single record into several!

Get your buyer-facing colleagues to pitch in

And of course, no one knows your customers better than your customer-facing colleagues, such as sales executives. Therefore include them in the process of creating your company’s persona records.

Walk a mile in your buyers’ shoes!

Understanding your buyers is fundamental to building an optimally-targeted marketing strategy. By truly knowing who your they are – their needs, goals, problems, expectations, blockers, triggers, barriers, etc., you’re well on your way to crafting messages that best speak to them – you’ll demonstrate empathy, leadership, and an awareness of their reality – you’ll capture their attention, and you’ll stand out from the rest!

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