Customer Personas: B2B vs B2C
In this blog article, we’ll discuss the differences between B2B and B2C personas and how to create a B2B personas that will help you unlock more conversions.
3

Are B2B customer personas really so different to B2C Personas?

Whilst it’s not one of the great unanswered questions of our time it is something I have been pondering for a while now. The thought has been knocking about in my head since I was lucky enough to join other CEX professions at the Customer Experience Awards late last year. 

The topic cropped up after one of the fantastic, shortlisted nominees took us through their customer personas as part of their entry and asserted that B2B customer personas (buyer personas) were wholly different to those created for B2C targeted businesses.  

As is often the way, I jumped in quickly suggesting that was not the case, we are always trying to connect with and message to a ‘person’ ultimately and so the differences were minimal. But is that right? It’s worth exploring the topic further.  

In this blog article, we’ll discuss the differences between B2B and B2C personas and how to create a B2B personas that will help you unlock more conversions. 

What is a customer persona?

As marketers or customer experience professionals it’s essential to understand who your target customer is. A customer persona is a marketing tool that allows you to gain insight into the customer’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviours to craft better marketing strategies.  

A customer persona is a representation of your ideal customers. It can help you to understand the customer’s needs, wants, and motivations in order to create more effective marketing strategies. It can also help you to identify customer segments, which are groups of customers who share similar characteristics. 

The goal of a customer persona is to develop a better understanding of your target customer. By understanding the customer’s needs, you can tailor your messages and content to those needs. This helps to create more meaningful relationships with customers and provide them with a better experience with your brand. 

What sets customer personas apart from customer segments is that they are more detailed and specific. Customer personas should be based on market research, customer surveys, and data analysis. This allows you to gain a better understanding of the customer’s needs and behaviors. This, in turn, allows you to create more effective marketing and customer experience strategies. 

What is the difference between B2B and B2C buyer personas?

The main difference between B2B and B2C personas is the type of customer they are targeting (B2B personas targeting businesses, B2C buyer personas targeting individual customers.) 

Sometimes B2B organisations overlook the need for customer personas that look to the individuals within their target businesses, instead they analyseis  and profileing the business itselfthemselves. This is the major shortcoming of a B2B persona, the absence of looking at an individuals and finding what they need, what matters to them and how you can solve their problems. 

What is different is some of the content of the personas. 

B2B buyers tend to be more knowledgeable and experienced in relation to the product or service you wish to engage them in.  

Some would propose that B2B customers are also more likely to be influenced by data and analytics. I’d counter to suggest that they may not be more influenced by it (think about that friend we all have who logs insurance quotes and product features on a spreadsheet) but they may need it presented differently to help them manage their stakeholders. 

To help with this stakeholder management requirement B2B personas should include information about the customer’s position in the company, their industry, its structure and their goals. 

Conversely it might be the case that we cling to the belief that B2C consumers are more influenced by feelings and emotions. Some of this is down to individual segments (e.g. more financially restricted segments might see price is king regardless of their emotional attachment to a brand or product.) 

What is likely true though is that the initial awareness and engagement stages of the funnel are likely to be more focused on the customer’s needs and wants, this should be reflected in the content of the persona. They should include information about the customer’s lifestyle, interests, and values. 

Types of B2B buyer personas

B2B buying is a more complex purchase process. This is because there are multiple decision makers involved. This means there are a few different types of B2B personas. The first type is the decision-maker persona. This type of persona focuses on the person who is making the decision to purchase the product or service. This could be a CEO, CFO, or other senior executive. 

The second type is the influencer persona. This type of persona focuses on the people who influence the decision-makers. These could be employees, vendors, or other stakeholders. 

The third type is the user persona. This type of persona focuses on the people who will be using the product or service. This could be a salesperson, customer service representative, or other employee. 

All are relevant and important, as is a developed understanding of how these different personas interact within your target organisations.  

Understanding the needs of your B2B buyer persona

When creating a B2B persona, it’s important to understand the customer’s needs. This means you should have an understanding of what type of products or services the customer is looking for, what their pain points are, and what their goals are. 

You should also have an understanding of the customer’s industry. What challenges are they facing? What trends are they seeing? What opportunities are they looking for? This can help you to create a more targeted message that will resonate with the customer. 

Finally, you should have an understanding of the customer’s budget and purchasing process. This can help you to create a better pricing model and a more efficient sales process. 

Best practices for creating a B2B buyer persona.

Creating a B2B buyer persona doesn’t have to be complicated. First, be sure to keep the persona focused on the customer. You should focus on the customer’s needs, wants, and motivations, rather than your own product or service.  

Be sure to use data to support your persona. Gather all the data you already have about your customers. This could include customer surveys, market research, and data analysis. If there are gaps now is a great time to conduct some additional insight. 

You should then create a list of the customer’s needs, wants, and motivations. This will give you an understanding of what the customer is looking for and what their goals are. 

Next, you should create a list of questions to ask the customer. This could include questions about their industry, their challenges, and their goals. 

To finalise your persona create a list of potential solutions for the customer. This could include product or service recommendations, pricing models, or other solutions. 

Once you have it, test it. This could include testing the messages, content, and solutions you’ve created for the customer. 

Remember, customer personas should be living documents –  keep them up-to-date. The customer’s needs, wants, and motivations can change over time. 

How to use a B2B buyer persona

Once you’ve created a B2B buyer persona, it’s important to know how to use it. The first step is to engage the persona in your contact strategies to create targeted messages and content for the customer. This could include blog posts, emails, and social media posts.  

Share your personas across your organisation – work with product teams to create targeted solutions for the customer. This could include product or service recommendations, pricing models, or other solutions.  

Personas have an added benefit of helping sales teams and customer support teams better address questions from their target buyers. It can also help marketing teams align campaigns that will be most effective in targeting accounts, as well as makinge marketing or product messaging more relevant. By playing out various B2B buyer personas, sales teams can also identify how they can close deals faster and product or service teams can refine their product or service to ensure it adds value for the customer. 

Your customer persona can now help you with a customer experience strategy – understanding the customer’s experience of their lifecycle with your organisation. This will identify the moments of truth and support you in grouping and prioritizing CeX work programs. 

Finally, you should use the buyer persona to inform your ongoing  business strategies. Let your audience lead you to create meaningful targets and operational plans. 

Conclusion

Whilst B2B personas do indeed focus on individuals in the same way that B2C personas do the nuances should not be overlooked and the construct of B2B personas has some important additions and subtle differences.  

What all customer personas have in common is that they can hold the secrets to unlock the potential of your organisation to better communicate with and meet the needs of your audiences.  

Want us to show you how to make it happen? Get in touch…

By Celia Felgate, Director

UK Customer Experience Award Winning Agency

Winner, winner chicken dinner! We've won an award in the Outsourcing category alongside one of our clients, which goes to show how well we work as an extension of your business. You can trust your customer experience project is in safe hands.