Define Your Target Group
We don’t communicate with companies (at least not yet), we communicate with people. When we know our ideal target companies and the products they need from us, we can zoom in on the human beings we are making content for. But since we cannot make unique content for each single individual, we need to categorise them. Obviously, a CFO is not interested in the same things as a CTO. You need to adapt the content we offer them – but how do we pull this off in a practical sense?
For different business opportunities, there can be a different set of persons involved influencing the choices on the way to a signed contract. For example, even if we want them to buy the same type of products eventually, a mid-sized and a large corporation might involve quite different people. So for each of the chosen business opportunities, ask yourself: what are the most influencing roles? Set a limit of 3 roles (or 5 at most) for each business opportunity if you can.
Roles who are not part of the top 3-5 will matter significantly less and you can never please everyone. You will be better off to use roles than job titles (CEO, CMO, CFO etc.), since titles vary greatly and sometimes a person with one title has more than one role. Another common and perhaps more accurate word for roles in this context is buyer focus. Typical focuses that can be applied to most companies are Holistic Business Focus (typically held by CEOs, for example), Technical Focus (CTOs), Finance Focus (CFOs) and Marketing Focus (CMOs). Each hypothetical role or focus will have its own interests, needs and problems. When you’ve established the top 3-5 roles for each of your top business opportunities, you will have an excellent map of potential content topics that are relevant to the people that matter most.
Discover their Pain Points
As some of the roles you come up with might unclear, even to the person who came up with it, talk it through until you share a clear understanding of what the role does and what its main focus is. When all roles are clarified, you can explore their needs, challenges, goals and desires. The figure below shows how this work can be structured in a simple template.
Don’t limit yourself to what’s related to your products – that’s a typical inside-out approach. Have an open mind. Allow anything without judgement – you can prioritise and delete points later. If the CFO is concerned with consolidating reporting, it could be used to catch his or her interest, even if your company is selling coffee machines.
This is the heart of this method; here is where you have to uncover what’s truly on your customer’s minds.
Short, creative workshops with customers are ideal, but since it’s not always feasible, engage colleagues who know your products and customers well. Sales managers can be a natural choice, but you might also involve top management, support and customer service.
Start with one of the roles or focuses, like “holistic business focus” and record or note whatever the expert or experts says.
This is where the magic can happen. When at its best, the workshop is not a one-way interview but more of a conversation where the marketer explains the process and guides the participants, asking questions, follow-up questions and suggesting needs and problems that has popped up in other workshops. The participants – the respondents and experts of the workshop – will probably need some cues and nudges now and then to think of some of the points. This exploration can be deeply rewarding and learning for all involved – the experts, even experienced sales managers, learn something from structuring and reflecting on their customers, the buying process and the market and where the whole thing is going.
Figure 2: Template for discovering the pain points of different buyer focuses.
Document every workshop or interview. This will be your content gold, your holy grail. The more workshops and the more research you do, the more you learn and the more you bring into the next workshop.
After the workshops or interviews, the documentation needs to be examined and edited:
- Do the points consistently prove or support your company’s area of expertise?
- Are there points that need to clarified, confirmed or rephrased?
- Which points are duplicates and which should be merged?
In my next blog article, I´ll describe a way to analyse customers on a more personal level by creating effective, co-called buyer personas. This is really exciting, so stay tuned!
Do you want to engage your B2B audience and generate more leads?
Learn how to go from ’relevant’ to ’need-to-know’ content in my ebook How to Add Business Value Throughout the Buyer’s Journey.
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