In B2B marketing, understanding your target audience is crucial for success. However, according to Ardath Albee, CEO of Marketing Interactions, a staggering 43 percent of B2B marketers need help identifying their ideal target audience.

Ardath sat down with Agents of Change host Danielle O’Neil to talk about how the techniques of fiction and screenwriting can help marketers reach the right audience.

Roles, Not Titles

Marketers often struggle with personas. The temptation is to create distinct personas for every job title we can imagine might be interested in our product. But personas represent roles, not titles. By recognizing this distinction, marketers can gain a deeper understanding of their target audience and effectively engage with them. 

Most B2B marketing professionals agree that personas tend to multiply as a marketing initiative takes shape. It doesn’t take long before the sheer volume of customer personas becomes overwhelming.

Ardath argues that the proliferation of personas results from the tendency to tie personas to tiles. “Let’s look at why we have too many personas,” she says. “And quite often, it’s because we look at a persona as a title. And a persona is not a title. It’s a role.”

Depending on industry, organizational structure, and responsibilities, a single persona may easily apply to multiple titles. Creating an excessive number of personas becomes impractical, as it requires significant resources to develop tailored content for each persona. That’s why focusing on personas that align with your current resources is essential.

Too Many Personas, Not Enough Personality

It’s crucial to ground personas in the ways real-life people communicate. Too often, Ardath says, personas are imagined at such a general level that they become useless. “Personas are crap,” she says. “They’re too high level. And so you end up with goals like ‘this person wants to increase revenue.’ What are you gonna do with that? Nothing.”

When personas are vague, they can’t produce actionable insights. They’re ineffective tools for guiding marketing strategies. Instead, personas should provide deep insights into the professional attributes, motivations, and challenges the individuals in those roles face.

Drawing from her experience in fiction writing and scriptwriting, Ardath Albee introduces a valuable concept: a conversation is a series of questions and answers. Applying this principle to marketing, she suggests incorporating the questions that arise throughout the buyer’s journey into personas. 

It’s Just Q&A

This approach enables marketers to create a storyline that aligns content with the buyer’s informational needs at each stage. Ardath explains:

“One of the things that I build into the personas is: What are all the questions that they have along the way? What is all the stuff they need to get answered? What do they need to know to perform their due diligence to learn enough about the product to be able to convince everybody else to get on board? And so, I create a series of questions in a persona. And how you decide to answer those questions pretty much gives you the storyline from beginning to end.”

By crafting personas with a storyline that addresses the questions and concerns of the target audience at each stage, marketers can create a cohesive content strategy. This approach generates momentum, guiding prospects along their journey and ensuring a consistent flow of relevant information.

“Once you’ve developed this storyline that answers these questions all the way through, you’ve got not only a full program, but you’re creating momentum because of the way Q&A works,” Ardath says.

Rich Personas Make for Rich Leads

In B2B marketing, personas are pivotal in understanding and engaging with your target audience. But how you construct personas will make all the difference in a marketing strategy’s success. 

Vague, high-level personas will waste marketing resources and fail to engage your target audience. By building personas based on actionable insights, marketers can develop compelling storylines that address the questions and needs of their audience. This approach empowers B2B marketers to create relevant, engaging content that resonates with their target audience and drives meaningful business outcomes.

Get more insights from Ardath in this episode of Agents of Change

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