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Profile your business-to-business customer

A profile is a detailed portrait, representation or persona of each of your b2b customer segments.

Profiling is key to achieving the following objectives

  1. A profitable product/service

    Building a detailed profile allows you to adapt and reshape your product or service so that it matches the ever changing needs of each customer type.

  2. Effective communication

    The more you know about each of your audience segments the better you'll be at developing a relevant message/proposition that grabs and holds their attention.

  3. Effective use of media

    Your choice of media will be much more effective if you know that your specific audience segment uses it, trusts it and responds to it.

  4. Profitable targeting

    Pareto's principle argues that around 80% of your sales will come from 20% of your customers. Profiling allows you to identify prospects who 'look' most like your best customers  (with a potentially high lifetime value) and therefore to target more effectively by recruiting more customers with profitable characteristics.

Nine steps to developing each business audience profile.

  1. What is their demographic profile?

    To paint a picture of each audience segment, start with their demographics:

    Examine each target individual that has a role/influence within the Decision Making Unit (DMU)

  2. What is their job and level of seniority?

    Is your persona at a managerial or director level, and well versed in the intricacies of your industry? They'll need less education than someone at an introductory level, who may need to loop in other decision makers before making purchasing decisions.

    Even working with C-level executives presents unique challenges; they might have shorter attention spans, spend less time learning and researching, and have different goals than a lower level employee. Companies that take the time to understand their persona's career aspirations will likely enjoy more effective communications from both the sales and marketing teams.

  3. What is their buying behaviour?

    What is their usage of products/services within your market?

    Why are they going to buy?

    What is their consumer journey?

    What is their RFM/purchase history?

    For more on buying behaviour, you may find this concept map guide useful.

  4. What's their typical day like?

    Think about their typical day. For example, are they buying/researching your service from work, at home, at the weekend? How much time do they have to do this?  What other priorities do they have? What else are they doing?

    Produce a pen portrait.

  5. What are their pain points?

    What problem do they have that are relevant to your business offering?

    What do they gain from using your products and services?

    How do they feel about the problem it solves?

    What motivates them to solve this problem?

    Do they have other viable ways to solve the problem?

    What are their pain points that your product manages?

  6. What do they value most from your product or service?

    What needs do they have which are relevant here?

    What do they care about - and just as important, what do they not care about?

  7. Where do they go for information?

    How do they consume information? Is it from the TV, radio, national news media, local press, blogs, social media, by reading newspapers and magazines?

    What are their touchpoints with your business likely to be?

    Which media do they trust the most?

  8. What buying experience are they expecting?

    The experience of buying your product should match their needs and expectations.

    What kind of features do they expect your product to have? What should their sales experience feel like? Is it consultative? How much time do they expect to spend with a sales person? Do they anticipate an in-person meeting, or would they rather conduct the sales process online or over the phone? The nature of your business and the personality and needs of your persona should define their buying experience.

  9. What are their most common objections to your (or similar competitive) product or service?

    Anticipate their objections and allay their fears and concerns in the early part of the buying process.

    Consider what might make them reticent to buy from you or any other provider in your industry. Is this their first time purchasing a product or service of your kind? If not, what caused them to switch products or services?

Once you've answered any lingering questions about your target audience, find some words and images to associate with each segment. Doing this forces you to pinpoint what your audience 'looks like' and helps to keep your messaging consistent throughout your organisation.

Here's an example