"At the most basic level, people spend money on two things," Fast Company observed a few years ago: to pursue pleasure, but also to combat pain.
Determining what's causing your customer pain --in other words, identifying their so called "pain points" -- is a crucial part of inbound marketing. When you know what causes them to lose sleep, you can create content aimed at alleviating that pain.
And as you enter different fields, you'll find different pain points. In the case of industrial buyers, the international journal Supply Chain Forum identified some of the pain points these buyers face:
1. Fragmentation Of The Supply Chain: Global outsourcing has created longer and more diverse supply chains, which can result in "a fragmented patchwork of technologies, staff members, and decisions that are not effectively working together."
2. Lack Of Global Resources: Many buyers told the Forum that they didn't have the funding to carry out a global expansion, so that the combination of increased work and less funding leads to delays and gaps in delivery.
3. Lack Of Communication: When business units don't communicate, and when they use disjointed, outdated systems, it prevents proper coordination and strategizing. It makes it difficult to align the business' goals with the customers' demands.
4. Increased Commodity Prices: This one speaks for itself: Raw material prices go up, but customers are reluctant to pay more for goods, leading to a thinner profit margin.
5. Global Competition: Many buyers say they feel pressure from countries where labor is cheaper, which puts them at a cost disadvantage.
Those are just five pain points, and while we can read them and say "I can see how industrial buyers could have those problems," it's really only a starting point.
There could be other issues your potential customers are struggling with. To help figure out a content plan that can reach those customers, you'll need to conduct what's known as "persona research."
Persona research begins with you creating a buyer persona. This is a semi-fictional version of your dream customer, fashioned out of market research by interviewing existing customers. These interviews should be fairly detailed, and include questions such as:
- What is your role and title at work?
- How do supervisors measure your performance? Who do you report to, and who reports to you?
- Describe a typical day at work.
- What are the skills and tools that you need for your job?
- What does your company do or make?
- What are you responsible for, and what does it mean to be successful in your role?
- What are some of your biggest challenges?
- Describe your career path. How did you get to where you are today?
- Describe your personal background (marital status, family, etc).
- Describe your educational background. What level of education did you complete, what subjects did you study, and where did you study them?
- What’s your favorite way to interact with vendors (in person, via e-mail, over the phone)?
- Do you use internet research to find out more about vendors or products? If you’ve said yes, how do you search for information?
- Talk to us about a recent purchase. Why did you consider it, what was the evaluation process and how did you decide to buy the product/service?
With many of these questions, you should follow up by asking “Why?” Finding out the "Why" of how people do their jobs will likely give you more detailed explanations, revealing more information than the original question.
When the interviews are done, search for patterns in the answers to craft your personas. Give them a name, and find a stock photo so they have a face.
Start with their basic demographic information: Age, income, location, and education, then add their goals and their pain points. Explain why they want to work with your company, and why they might be hesitant. You should also develop a short elevator pitch to explain why they shouldn't be hesitant.
If you still have questions about developing a buyer persona, contact IQnection. Our digital marketing team can help you understand your customers and help you ease their pain.