In our work with B2B SaaS companies, we have found that for any campaign, being it Account-Based Marketing (ABM), Inbound Marketing or Content Marketing, and even a Product Launch, you only need 3 personas to have success. More personas just lead to confusion, complexity, and unnecessary extra work. All you need to do is define three fundamental, foundational personas:
P1 is the user of the solution. She’s the primary beneficiary of using your software or service.
This persona is the day-in and day-out functional user who will operate and interact with the solution often, and typically has the most practical experience with how the solutions add value. In addition to targeting this persona to drive awareness, consideration, and conversion, this persona is also a great source for message testing, and getting more insights about the value proposition we offer.
Our marketing goal is to make Persona 1 an advocate for buying our solution (or remove them as a potential blocker). This is what we need them to “believe”:
We consider Persona 1 the most critical of these three for Content Marketing since we find that these people are usually looking for solutions to alleviate “pain”, address challenges in their job, or try to find ways to innovate how they add value for their employers.
In the Kalungi account-based marketing approach, Persona 2 (P2) is the manager, supervisor or group leader of Persona 1 (P1, the User). P2 oversees the function or team that benefits most from the solution we offer. They are usually the main decision-maker.
For our account-based marketing, P2 is the most important audience. We start our ABM with P1, so we learn as much as possible about the validity of our messaging before we go after P2. In addition, P1 will help us find the right P2 person or their contact details like their email address.
The modern B2B Buyer's Journey usually involves multiple decision-makers. The main thing that differentiates B2B Marketing from B2C Marketing is that you are convincing someone to spend someone else’s money. Thus, in B2B Sales and Marketing, P2 is the person who we need to convince to become our sponsor. Persona 2 will have to "sell" the rest of the organization on our solution, and convince them to free up a budget, pass IT or legal requirements and complete the procurement process. They will need to convince their own team who will become users, but also their management, who will influence the budget and other stakeholders such as Legal or IT.
In addition to all the “fears and dreams” that apply to Persona 1, Persona 2 has additional specific needs, wants and desires.
As we learn what P2 cares about, we can use that to create optimal messaging for our Marketing to P3.
P3 is the executive sponsor for P2 and cares primarily about ROI. Specific functional areas who can become “blockers” for procuring our solution are also included in Persona 3. Examples are the legal department, IT or finance, with procurement guidelines, compliance requirements or privacy concerns, as examples of potential blockers.
While Persona 3 does not need to play an early role in the buyer’s journey of P2, they often are brought in at some point, and ideally, we have equipped P2 with the right material to "sell" P3.
This persona typically has the least amount of technical knowledge and they’re interested in learning more, but don’t know what to think yet. They’re looking for a practical foundation of knowledge to understand the context and intent of the solution, so they can fulfill their fiduciary, executive or sponsor responsibilities for the organization.
Now let's talk about messaging to these different personas. In the Kalungi messaging framework of communication, we try to answer three questions.
So let's review how we can do these 3 types of messaging for all these personas.
Step 1, why should they change, is all about their "Pain". Sometimes we call this “fears and dreams.”
A useful framework for thinking of this is to use the Maslow “Hierarchy of Needs” Pyramid to identify things they personally care about. In short, we want to make messaging personalized, talking about their interests and using the right name, etc.
Examples are things like their:
A lot of these examples apply to Persona 1, the user of the value proposition you offer. For Persona 2 it might be more about making a safe investment decision, being seen by their team as the hero who brings in the right tools and advocates for their needs. A P2 Supervisor needs to look good in front of their bosses, and of course, wants his/her team’s approval.
P3 often has pain related to ROI, meeting company security standards, risk mitigation and making sure the P2 who works for them is seen as a great contributor to the company’s strategic goals. They don’t have a lot of technical knowledge about the solution, but they still need to understand how their investment decisions will impact the overarching organization and impact the company.
These are all examples of the first part of messaging, around "pain, fears, and dreams", to be communicated to each of these three personas.
So why should they follow you? After they've decided they have enough pain to click, engage or join, why should that be with you?
This is the "Claim" part of your Value Prop. It should always be communicated with benefits (not features) of what your solution brings, and you should sound/look like them. Remember, you want them to trust you as their guide. Try to use the words that they would use, while you also establish credibility by demonstrating your superpowers and sharing how you can "take them to the promised land."
By appealing to your personas with the right positioning and messaging, they should trust you and confide in you as a valuable partner.
Why should they not postpone the decision till tomorrow or until they have the budget? What will give them confidence that they will convince their boss?
This is about communicating what they stand to "Gain" and providing a compelling Call-To-Action (CTA). Ideally, you use stories or examples of people or customers who've gone before them. Share data and tangible results. Show (Photos, Videos) vs. tell, and help them envision themselves in that future state. Create a "Fear Of Missing Out" effect if they don't act. Remember, you're now the guide to "take them to the promised land" and it's key that they feel very excited about their destination...
To recap, here’s who to focus the various parts of your marketing strategy on:
Read more about Kalungi’s proven messaging approach here.