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Mar 06, 2012

Marketing Research Chart: Top tactics in developing buyer personae

SUMMARY: Our research finds that 41% of B2B firms have established buyer personae, while 47% of organizations have not. Both groups could benefit from learning best practices to either establish or adjust existing personae as their market evolves, so they can gain greater relevance for their communications strategies.

To discover these best practices we asked organizations which tactics are most effective in developing buyer personae. In this week’s chart, find out the results from more than 1,700 B2B marketers.
by Jen Doyle, Senior Research Manager

Conducting interviews rated as a top tactic in developing buyer personae

Q. What tactics did you find to be most effective in developing your buyer personae?

View Chart Online

Click here to see a larger, printable version of this chart

The most effective development tactic involves going straight to the source, and interviewing prospects and/or customers themselves. Organizations can ask these parties directly, “What problem are you trying to solve with our solution?” or “Why did you choose us over the competition?”

Gaining actual, qualitative information directly from prospects and/or customers can be highly insightful in defining buyer personae.

Organizations clearly have an appreciation for qualitative data when researching buyer personae, as the top two tactics are both qualitative.

This data also indicates that a best practice is to balance qualitative data collected from interviews with quantitative data, as the third- and fourth-most effective tactics are quantitative.

Organizations must be conducting qualitative research first and foremost, and then collecting quantitative data on the insights they uncover.

For additional research data and insights about B2B marketing, download and read the free Executive Summary from the MarketingSherpa 2012 B2B Marketing Benchmark Report: Research and Insights on Attracting and Converting the Modern B2B Buyer.

Useful links related to this research chart

Guided by Buyers: 4 tactics to create a customer-centric sales and marketing strategy

Buyer-Directed Marketing Funnel Puts Tools and Resources in Prospects' Hands: 6 Steps to Appeal to a Marketing-Averse Audience

2012 B2B Marketing Benchmark Report

See Also:

Comments about this Chart

Mar 06, 2012 - Tony Zambito of Buyerology says:
As the founder of buyer persona research and methodology more than a dozen years ago, I am happy to see that the need for qualitative research is recognized. There is still much confusion about buyer personas and the actual type of qualitative research needed. While interviewing buyers may be seen as qualitative research, use of the correct methods of qualitative research is still lacking as well as misunderstood. For example, the two questions referenced are sales probing type interview questions versus indicative of qualitative research. In 2012, we are seeing from own qualitative research that leading companies are moving beyond buyer personas for while there is gain from their use - they are limited in today's complex marketplace. More and more companies are realizing deeper returns from deeper qualitative research and new predictive buyer modeling techniques that extend far beyond buyer personas. What this report does show is the need to understand buyers continues to remain a constant need and challenge in B2B.

Mar 06, 2012 - Adele Revella of Buyer Persona Institute, Inc. says:
Thanks for this great study. I'm thrilled to see that the #1 tactic is interviews with the buyers, as that is the only tactic listed above that gets to the real goal of buyer personas for product and solution marketing. A lot of the work on buyer personas has been in service of web design, but to benefit product and solution marketing, buyer personas need to include deep insights into how and why the buyer chose you, a competitor, or to do nothing at all. Unfortunately, none of the techniques that marketers have used in the past, including asking sales or conducting surveys, none of these work. It's a new skill for most marketers, but they learn how to conduct unscripted, agenda-driven interviews with recent buyers, the results are always surprising and extremely helpful.

Jul 05, 2012 - Nick Petri of OpenView Labs says:
Thanks for a great article. We've found that it's best to start with unstructured interviews to help frame the discussion. Once we have a pretty good understanding of how the conversations typically unfold, we're able to put it into survey format, which is more quantifiable and can reach more people. Our strongest recommendations are qualitative in nature, but supported with quantitative data.

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