In B2B content marketing, especially in health tech, buyer personas really matter. If you don’t know who you’re selling to, what problems you’re solving for them, or where they are in their buyer’s journey, all your hard work creating and distributing marketing content could be wasted. Your prospects are human beings, whose needs, preferences, and pain points can vary. In content marketing, without buyer personas to help guide you, you’re flying blind while aiming at a moving target. With a good buyer persona, you can get inside your prospects’ head, create exactly the right content to suit their buyer journey, and help ensure they consume it, and maybe even come back for more.
Buyer personas inform marketing strategies
A buyer persona encapsulates key aspects of every distinct type of customer you’re selling to, on a level that goes beyond simple demographics or job title. In healthcare technology, you are marketing to busy people who are bombarded with sales and marketing content every day. They are often seeking specific solutions, while actively blocking content that isn’t relevant to their needs. Understanding what drives these decision-makers right now should underpin absolutely every aspect of your health tech content marketing strategy.
Improve content marketing performance
Buyer personas help you understand not only how to create content that will resonate, but what channels to use to deliver it and to whom, across your entire marketing program. Some buyers may get their information in print, while others prefer social networks or networking events. While one type of customer seeks deep-dive research and technical data, others respond to graphic videos and short emails. At the end of the day, your ability to differentiate one from the other will improve performance across your entire marketing effort.
Creating an ideal customer profile
The best first step for creating great buyer personas is to start with an ideal customer profile—a picture of who your best and most desirable customer is. This exercise provides guidance that will be helpful as you identify your target companies and then develop buyer personas. There are lots of questions to ask yourself as you develop your ideal client profile.
Who are your best customers?
A great way to start your ideal client profile is to think about the characteristics of your best 5-10 clients over the last several years. To make those choices, ask yourself these questions:
- Which clients brought in the most revenue?
- Which were the most profitable? What is similar about these accounts?
- Which high-revenue clients are not on the “profitable” list and why?
- Who has been with you the longest? Why do you think that is?
- Which clients signed on with you in a shorter-than-normal sales cycle range?
Then ask yourself (and your team) these questions about the clients you put on your list:
- Does the client value your expertise?
- Is your relationship one of a partner vs a vendor?
- Is the client getting value out of the product/work you do/did for them?
- Do you/your team actually like the client?
To get more insight, consider interviewing some of your current or former clients from this list. Find out why they chose you and what they feel are the best traits of your relationship. This approach can provide particularly rare and valuable insights into how your existing marketing is having an impact (or failing to do so).
Create your buyer personas
Now, it’s time to get real. Starting with your ideal customer as a guide, begin to study your potential buyers in the real world. This is where you will focus on researching actual prospects and their behaviors. Your goal is not to create a biography for everyone. Instead, you need to be able to identify patterns, similarities, and key differences that will help you group your buyers. Ultimately, each group’s needs will guide how you create and deliver the right content to them.
These are the areas you want to be sure to address in your personas:
- Pain points
- Professional risks
- Consumption of information
Identify your targets
Often, your sales team has done this work for you already. They will typically know what your target buyers look like demographically, what roles they play within target organizations, what their pain-points and needs are, and more. These frontline resources will also know what questions, challenges, and objections they face in the real world. And, they can share insights on which prospects turn into customers.
Understand the buyer journey and stages
Buyers move through a process as they research and vet solutions. Your business goals will help you determine how you serve up content at different stages of that journey. For some buyers, who are unaware of your offering, you’ll need to focus on top-of-funnel awareness tactics. Others may already be in the consideration stage, weighing your offering against competitors. Some may be at the point of decision, while existing customers may need support and retention marketing strategies. Each of these stages (and the needs of that particular persona) should be noted.
In developing each persona, make sure you answer the five W’s: Who, What, When, Where, and Why.
Who is the evaluator in a position to help you sell into an organization and who is the decision maker? Your evaluator may be a purchasing agent, a procurement officer, an IT manager, the CNO, or a senior executive. Your decision maker could be the CMO or a hospital administrator. Keep in mind that about half of the B2B decision makers in health tech are millennials.
Understanding who you need to educate, connect with, or just gain visibility with, will be essential. Also consider factors such as how this individual researches, defines success, and what their current pain points are.
You need to understand what kind of organization you’re selling into. What sector of healthcare do they fit into, what is the company’s size, what are its revenues, and its buying process? What are the pain points for that sector and then the individual personas within that? Consider that pain points change as the industry changes, and sometimes that change happens fast.
Of course, physical locations can matter. Some health tech companies target specific geographic locations and demographic profiles, where they understand their chances of success to be higher. For global health tech companies, “where” can be a very important question, impacting factors such as language and culture, legal issues, and campaign timing, among other details that can affect a target’s suitability.
Another critical aspect of your ideal customer is when they’ll be ready to buy from you. How long is their decision-making cycle and what stage of the buyer journey are they in? If they’ve never heard of your brand, you have a different challenge than if they have an immediate need and have already engaged with you. Or, maybe they’re just beginning to research your health tech solution and need to learn more. As your ideal health tech customer makes his/her way down your sales funnel, their needs, in terms of content, will very likely evolve. Make sure your content will align with their timeline.
Why does this persona need your product or service? The answer here could vary by persona, but it’s a critical question to answer. Knowing the answer allows your sales and content marketing messaging to address the why and offer solutions to their problems (vs just selling your product features). Are they looking to consolidate technologies? Is their legacy system in need of replacement? Are they already familiar with your brand and happy with your other products? Are they growing or in transition?
Update your buyer personas regularly
Your content marketing team (or agency, ahem), should be able to digest all of the above research into a distinct set of buyer personas, with very little overlap. Each of these should have aspects of your ideal client, although you will find that none are perfect. Each should require a different set of tactics, with well-defined types of content, marketing channels, behaviors, preferences, and an awareness of their place in the buying journey.
And each should be temporary. One of the big mistakes many health tech companies make is to invest in developing buyer personas only to park them on a computer somewhere and never revise them. The reality is that your market is in constant flux, your prospects’ needs are evolving, and people change. That all adds up to buyer personas that will need to be updated periodically in order to remain relevant and useful.
Incorporate your buyer personas into your content marketing plan
Knowing your buyer personas is critical to success, particularly in B2B health tech marketing. This information will underpin every part of your overall content marketing plan. As you approach decisions on types of content, which channels to focus on, how to structure your budget, and establish measurement and reporting guidelines, your buyer personas will help guide you. Ultimately, they will improve the impact of every dollar spent. Of course, as things evolve, updating those personas will ensure that your content marketing continues to be successful, even as your audience’s perspectives, pain points, preferences, and motivators continue to change.
While essential, developing your buyer personas is just a part of a successful content marketing program. In fact, 71 percent of the most successful content marketers say they have a documented strategy. For more on how to build an effective content marketing plan – including how to incorporate your buyer personas, download our free eBook: Build Your Content Marketing Plan: A HealthTech Marketer’s Guide.