{PODCAST} In-Ear Insights: Data-Driven B2B Marketing Personas

{PODCAST} In-Ear Insights: Data-Driven B2B Marketing Personas

In this week’s In-Ear Insights, Katie and Chris answer a mailbag question from Denise:

“My question is about UX copywriting. Other than using a service like “crystalknows.com,” how do I know which words and phrases influence a specific buyer persona? Which words or CTAs influence a 35-year-old CTO male who makes craft beers on the weekends?”

Dig into this episode as they discuss using data, what data sources to consider, and both data-driven and human-driven marketing initiatives to reach a known target audience.

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Machine-Generated Transcript

What follows is an AI-generated transcript. The transcript may contain errors and is not a substitute for listening to the episode.

Christopher Penn 0:00
In this week’s In-Ear Insights, we have a mailbag question from Denise asking. Other than using a service like crystal knows how do I know which words and phrases influence a specific buyer persona, which words are calls to action influence a 35 year old CTO male who makes craft beer on the weekend. That’s, that’s pretty specific. So Katie, when you think about buyer personas and and getting in the head of a buyer persona, what comes to mind?

Katie Robbert 0:31
Um, the first thing that comes to mind is that I think a lot of brands are getting it wrong. And I’ve sort of hesitate hesitating on saying wrong because there’s a lot of information out there. And I think that, you know, we’re in this interesting time in marketing where you have people calling for, you know, market to one person, personalization, individualism, but then you also still have to think about sort of just the broad strokes of your audience. And so you need to find that balance between The two so I guess the first thing I think of is, well, what data do I have access to, to even figure out the answer to this question? You know, I know that a lot of brands and I’ve worked with some of these companies, they just make assumptions about who they think their target audiences. So, you know, my target audience is maybe a 35 to 42 year old, you know, stay at home mom of two who likes to wear yoga pants and drink wine. Well, that might be a small segment of my audience, but then you know, Chris, you always like to give the bronies example of I guess, bros who like my little ponies is what that translates to. And basically, it’s what it’s saying is if you only ever focus on that one specific segment of your audience, you could be missing other segments. So to rein it back in a little bit. The thing The first thing I would think of is what information do I have access to from my audience specifically do I have Have I collected any forms or any feedback or any surveys? Where my customers are actually using specific language? Do I have customer support calls that I can transcribe? And sort of put through AI to figure out what words and phrases? Are these customers using good or bad so that I have a better understanding? And I that’s where I would start is what data do I have? And then you can start to look externally of what data can i supplement with?

Christopher Penn 2:28
I think you’re absolutely right, that the assumption that the your your target audience is that person, it can be dangerous, especially in b2b, because we know just from life experience that very often, the C suite makes the decision for sure. But the C suite does not spend 30 hours doing research on you know, bringing up the shortlist for themselves to make a decision on that usually gets handed to the intern like the intro like, hey, go make me a list of the Top 25 companies that make business intelligence software and, you know, the intern goes and crawls through Aptera jeetu crowd and it looks at the highest ratings and stuff like that, and then get hands that list over. And so if you’re trying to influence someone at the in b2b, you have to take into account the entire sort of, I guess, chain of command as opposed to like just the CTO. The other thing that comes to mind is, the customer kind of tells you already, like, it’s not so many words, but think about, like what you share on Twitter, right? You share on Twitter articles and things that are of your capture attention. Same for LinkedIn, same for Facebook, etc. If you have a list a panel of your current customers or your ideal customers, the next logical step would be what publications do they read and share information from like if you’re always sharing information from network World Magazine as an example, then, logically, network world is something that you pay enough attention to that you can at least you know, drunkenly hit the share button right.

Katie Robbert 3:59
I stay off Social media from drinking I, I’m old enough to know better.

Unknown Speaker 4:04

Christopher Penn 4:06
And then using a tool like our refs, or buzzsumo, or sem rush or whatever, you pull the stats from network world, what are the articles that have gotten the greatest amount of traffic, the largest number of clicks? And that’s what use for your language analysis? Because if we know that those are the words and phrases that get somebody to click and take action, why would you use those words? Because that’s what a headline is a headline is a call to action, whether it’s an email subject line, whether it’s a blog post, social post headline is what gets people go, Hmm, I want to know more about that. And so when we’re talking about it’s funny, these services, like the one Denise mentioned, basically turned into a cottage industry of doing exactly just processing headlines and things. So I would say that I think you need to have that. But there’s also going back to what you were saying earlier, I think there’s a lot of value in sitting down to a focus group, with your target customers and saying what do you read to make decisions. How do you make decisions?

Katie Robbert 5:03
You know, it’s interesting for as much as marketers right now or calling for, you know, less machine more human. I don’t see a lot of companies actually sitting down with their customers and asking them those questions. They’re still trying to, you know, stay behind their keyboards and figure it out from there versus actually just like, going out and saying, hey, customer, we talk about good, bad, indifferent, What don’t you like about us? Where can we do better? And I think that, you know, I’m not saying that. companies don’t do that. I don’t think they do enough of it. I think it’s still very comfortable. To sit behind your keyboard, click a mouse and try to figure out what I can find from Facebook Insights or, you know, Twitter audience analysis. You know, that’s the comfortable spot. The uncomfortable spot is actually talking with the person because they might tell you something you don’t want to hear or they might say, I don’t ever want to interact with you again, because I don’t like your product anymore. And I think that’s hard for companies to hear especially Right now with sort of the economy moving in the wrong direction, people are like trying to hold on to them. And like if I just kind of maybe ignore the problem and keep it over there, then I don’t have to deal with it just yet.

Christopher Penn 6:13
So how often should we be taking customers out to coffee?

Katie Robbert 6:17
You know, I think it depends on the type of service that you offer. If it’s, you know, I think if you have a product that requires a lot of customer support, probably more often, like maybe monthly or quarterly being check checking in with your customers. You know, if it’s a services arrangement, maybe it’s a little bit less often, you know, it really depends on the type of thing that the customer is buying from you, but at the very least once a year sending some sort of a, you know, feedback form or you know, customer satisfaction survey or just an opportunity to book some time with me and tell me how you’re doing.

Christopher Penn 6:56
One of my favorite tactics on this was by a consulting gentlemen, a local one here in Boston, David Master, who wrote a number of books, but one was called out technique was called strategy and the fat smoker. Because his point was, you know, you know what you need to do to be healthier, stop smoking, right, but yet 35% of the world smokes. And don’t be don’t endanger your health. But one of the things he said that, he said, drove his consulting business for four decades was he said to his clients, once per quarter, I will show up at my cost to your quarterly board meetings, I will sit in the back and I will not speak unless spoken to, but if you want me as available just as as an extra year to bounce things off of, I’m happy to do so. And he said that cranked out new scopes of work every single quarter because they would ask him David, what do you think? And he said, Well, this is how I would approach this problem. They like great, can you do that? And when we think about these, you know, to your point, these These services, these these technologies, there is no substitute for being in the room, there is no substitute for watching somebody present and seeing the CEOs faces like, Oh my God, not this again. And that’s never going to come out and a transcript or anything, it’s just one of the things you have to see. So there is a lot of value, unfortunately, to the human aspect.

Katie Robbert 8:22
You say unfortunately, I say, fortunately, tomato potato. You know, one of the things that, you know, if you’re looking for a very specific audience, you know, one of the techniques that we employ that I think has worked very, very well is when you start to look at forums, and so there are forums and groups and chats for pretty much any topic. At this point on the face of the earth. I mean, Facebook made a whole superbowl commercial about it, that there’s a group for everyone. And so whether or not these groups are public or private, that’s a whole different topic, in terms of how to mine that data, but like take Reddit, for example. There’s a forum or a sub forum for pretty much any topic. So if you take the example of a 35 year old CTO male who makes craft beer on the weekends, there’s probably some sort of a craft mail, you know, weekend warrior kind of thing, kind of forum on Reddit, which would be a great place to start in terms of text mining, to figure out what are the words and phrases that this group is using, so that I can mirror some of that back to them, so that they are feeling like they can engage with the content and the call to action that I’m putting out there specifically for them. Because, you know, Chris, in your example, of what kinds of things do I share on social media? Well, a lot of that is tied to you know, my professional persona, outside of what I do for work, my interests are very different. And so if you’re mirroring those phrases that are only resonate with me in a professional setting that I might not use Engage with some of your content. So you need to think about the full 360 of your audience, not just what they do for work, but to this example, what they do outside of work. So how can you sort of, you know, engage with them on in both aspects of their lives.

Christopher Penn 10:14
And you make a really good point of that, because the logical thing here to do, if if the CTO is the decision maker, and you know this, and there’s enough of these people that exist, that there’s a 35 year old CTO, who’s making craft beers, you know, I would assume that’s more than an N of one if that’s like your top 10 customers, whatever the logical thing to do would be to go on Amazon and attempt to brew your own and send it to them say hey, I tried to take my shot at this and stuff like that. I know this is your thing. What would you How would you have done this differently? They might say well, you know, add adds more hops, or you might want to try a little bit of malt barley syrup or something to try and and and approve it. But at the very least, the action of brewing your own bottling it and sending it to these people, and say like, Hey, I get you Like I understand you, I’m walking a few feet in your shoes will resonate more than any number of data mining projects, because you’ve clearly done the research to know who these people are. Why wouldn’t you then extend that to Hey, we tried to see your world from your point of view. So you know, if you if you like hiking, why wouldn’t you put together like, Hey, here’s, you know, 10 hot the unusual hikes near where you live or you know, in the state you live in? Again, it’s it’s one of those human things to show that you’re that you have empathy, that you understand the person well enough to put something together that they might like.

Katie Robbert 11:37
So do you think that brands are taking that extra step to find out that much extra information about their audience? So you could say that my typical buyer is a 35 year old CTO, but do that I also know what he does on the weekends, how do I get to that information?

Christopher Penn 11:55
I don’t think brands are doing that. And we know that because we get Thousands of off topic pitches every month from brands that are just hilariously wrong. How do you get that information you know that’s what we talked about focus groups talking to people actually actually treating them like humans and and and getting to know them getting to see what is suppression or alternately knowing the things that are top of mind. So last week I was at Social Media Marketing World and this was probably the last major conference I’ll be able to go to for a couple months because of the coronavirus pandemic. How many booths at the show out of 35 had hand sanitizers you know, little giveaway hand sanitizer just want to take a guess three one talk about yes talk about a complete and total Miss misread of the audience like people have everything else except the thing that people actually wanted. You know, and the one booth that did they had a big tub and people were lining up to take them like Okay, take two like yeah Take as many as you want. We bought a crate of these things. And of course, they got the attention. They got the conversation, guess what? Every single attendee walking the halls had their thing. It was like the best brand placement possible. Nobody thought, what is the thing that people will be concerned about as individuals as as humans, not as you know, CTOs. It’s like what’s what am I worried about? Oh, here’s some hand sanitizer. Awesome. So there’s that aspect too, of just good old fashioned common sense. If something is dominating the headlines. I’d say go and be a jerk about it and try a new jacket. But think about what the person would legitimately care about and figure out how to approach it that way. Again, that’s to me is not that’s not even data science. That’s just common sense.

Katie Robbert 13:49
I can see how much talking about this topic pains you because it’s all about the human empathy side of things. And your whole futurist perspective is that the most machines are going to take over. But I do think that it’s an important topic because, you know, there is a lot of this concern about will AI take my job and what we’re demonstrating is no, because there are certain aspects that are still uniquely human and machines, artificial intelligence, machine learning cannot demonstrate empathy, it cannot find nuance it cannot necessarily read body language and get it right, because it’s different for everybody. Like everybody has a different tell when, you know, they’re shy or embarrassed or about to lie or they’re angry, you know, and to try to feed that kind of training data set into machine it would be nearly impossible. So, you know, what we’re talking about today is, you know, how do you find the words and phrases but really is how do you get to know your audience on at a deeper level so that you’re giving them things that they’re really going to connect with? You know, we use the term like buyer persona, that’s still Sort of anonymizes them and takes away that personalization. So Chris, I think your examples of you know, if you know that your audience likes to free their own craft fair, then give it a shot and send them your, you know, handiwork, even if it’s terrible, because you’re showing, I paid attention to what you care about. And I gave it a shot. So let’s connect over that.

Christopher Penn 15:21
Exactly. And it’s funny because you listen to the number of people who talk about relationship marketing, and all these fancy b2b terms. In particular, it occurs in b2c too, for complex sales. But if you actually did any of these tactics within the context of a human relationship, you’d get slapped upside the head by your significant other because I don’t want this is stupid. And again, it goes back to what is what are the fundamental principles? And this is something that called the Bezos principle Jeff was famous for saying this in the marketing of Amazon, focus on what doesn’t change, right? You have all this technology of all these things you have all these these shiny objects to pay attention to but focus on what doesn’t change. consumers want better, faster, cheaper, right? consumers want to pay less and get more consumers want things that make them happy, not sad, that assuage fears. And these are these are literally universal things. I can’t think of any conventional context for most people, where these things would not be true. So in your marketing, in your analysis, what are the things what are those fundamental underlying principles? The 35 year old CTO who makes craft beer on the weekend? Does this person have a family? What are the What does the data say? And then, you know, do you make an accompanying version that is your non alcoholic that’s like a kid’s version so that a parent can have some quality time with their kids. That Again, it’s more like deduction, actually technically inductive logic than anything else, because you’re looking at what data you have, and then drawing logical conclusions from it last week, I got it social media marketing. Well, one of the big questions was how do we use social media data more effectively? One of the examples I gave to a fellow agency owners, look at your targeted area, what the most popular pizza places and then reach out to that places and how much does it cost to put fliers on your pizzas for the service area? If you’re trying to target a local service and people are like, Oh my God, that’s the most amazing thing ever. Like No, it’s logic. It’s basic, deductive logic. You have the data, Facebook is giving you the data. Why are you not using the data to make logical conclusions and then try experiment to see if those logical conclusions Hold up.

Katie Robbert 17:50
And unfortunately, I did burst your bubble a little bit on that one. Dog shelters are already using that technique with adoptable dogs, which I think It’s fantastic. Um, you know, but if I think one of the takeaways are really to like, try to understand your audience on a non professional level, you don’t have to actually try to make craft beer incentives to them. You could just simply find an article about, you know, here’s a local beer tasting, or here’s what I saw. I remembered that you said you like to make craft beer, I thought this would be of interest to you. And it just shows your audience, your customers, hey, I’m trying to get to know you at a slightly deeper level. I don’t just see you as $1 sign, I actually care. And I think that that those small gestures will go a long way. You know. And so, to circle back to Denise’s question of how do you find the words and phrases, there’s a lot of different ways and sometimes it’s just having a conversation with that particular person if you’re trying to reengage them or turn them into an evangelist. actually sit down and talk to them say, do you mind if If I record this conversation, I would love to hear how you talk about this thing. And just be very upfront with it.

Christopher Penn 19:06
Yep. And I would say, again, use the data you have and make logical conclusions from it. If you’re pitching the 35 year old CTO who makes craft beer on the weekend, and you don’t book your sales pitch at the local craft brewery on a Friday afternoon, so you can have a beer with you over things. You’re insane. Don’t PowerPoint of death. Don’t show up, you know, in a three piece suit and make everybody sit together for an hour and a half. Take your slides, print them out, grab a beer with the guy and your your rates of success will likely go up logic and knowing what doesn’t change will win the day. If you have a question you want to ask for in your insights, just go to Trust insights.ai and go to the Ask a silly question. We’ll put a link in the podcast here in the show notes. If you want to click through and ask a question. You don’t have to put your name to it. You can leave it a totally anonymous is totally fine. But we’ll answer on the show or in our slack forum analytics for marketers at TrustInsights.ai dot AI slash analytics for marketers, subscribe to the show and we’ll talk to you soon. Take care

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