How to Get More Value from Supply Chain Buyer Personas
Supply chain transactions require trust earned over time, and the quality of your marketing plays a crucial role in creating meaningful, trusting relationships with buyers.
Relationship marketing increases revenue, lowers operating costs, and positively impacts customer retention and lifetime customer value. The key to creating deep, powerful relationships is knowing and understanding your customer, inside and out. That’s where dynamic buyer personas come in.
Creating personas is often more complex than they appear. With so many market segments to serve, professional titles involved in the buying process, and widespread disruption throughout the industry, the supply chain is challenging for B2B marketers.
Don’t Ignore Regular Buyer Persona Reviews
Given the pace of change, how can you not do a buyer persona review every year? If nothing else, it’s an annual sanity check in a crazy world — a time to align and rally the company around the customer with organization-wide training.
If you don’t keep up with where your buyers really are, you waste marketing budget and risk coming across as tone deaf. Without regular evaluation, you may be blind to a new buyer persona who would be a good fit or blindly spend money to market to one who isn’t. You risk ignoring relationships your business needs because you’re unaware of them.
You owe it to your customers to put more thought into their personas than the cheery stock photos, made-up names, typical pain points, and trendy hobbies. Your buyer persona should be dynamic and nuanced, just like your buyers are. How do your customers change as they pass through their buying journeys? Think of a regular buyer review as part of your business agility practice that ensures your business model shifts as your customers do.
Train the Whole Business on Supply Chain Buyer Personas
Make it a point to spread this process and knowledge across your firm, so everyone “speaks customer.” Many positive financial indicators, including profitability and employee performance, have been linked to a strong market orientation — the business focus on identifying and meeting customer needs. Market orientation gives the company a rallying point and a north star for the journey.
Bringing together different groups to brainstorm cross-pollinates ideas and solves problems. Sales and marketing are natural collaborators, but other departments can contribute valuable insights, especially customer success or customer service. Of all departments, they are most often on the front lines, listening firsthand to feedback and responding to objections and issues. But are there others – the proposal team? Shipping? Every supply chain business is different, but the point is to think of how to broaden the input to create an organization-wide effort.
Ideas for Building Your Customer Muscle
Once you’ve assembled your core group, take advantage of the chance to build organizational knowledge. Try some role play to immerse participants in the customers’ mindsets. Make the outcome more than a list of bullets. These sessions are wildly helpful for marketing to understand how to write messages that stand out for their relevance. The people crafting customer experience and messaging will more deeply understand how true buyers would react and respond.
Questions for a Supply Chain Persona Brainstorm
- How have buyers’ challenges changed?
- Has your business changed? Have your relationships changed?
- New products? Services? Locations? How does this impact customers?
- Do buyers have to wear more hats or work differently to cover new areas?
Set up and stick to a meeting cadence and data collection processes to continuously collect information about buyers’ needs. Keep it simple and even anecdotal.
Remember to keep the benefits of a marketing-oriented company top of mind. If your company has an annual kickoff event, as most do, ensure that the sessions include persona and market overviews. Review them regularly at other sales meetings.
Go Where the Supply Chain Buyers Are
There’s no one better suited to give insights into your ideal customer profile than your most profitable, best-fit current customers; frankly, that’s always where you should start. One-on-one interviews, user groups, and regional customer gatherings are great opportunities to learn more about your buyers proactively.
Set up special dinners at conferences, with the sole goal of spending time with your customers and exposing more of your team members to them. Invest in professional focus groups and come prepared with great discussion questions. Record your sessions and share them within your company. Turn the recordings into employee training videos and other learning tools to ensure everyone has the chance to know and understand who is the best fit for your product.
Maintain a Regular Frequency for Persona Reviews
If nothing ever changed in the marketplace, companies could get away with one-and-done buyer persona plans, but that doesn’t reflect reality. Sticking to an annual review makes this focus part of the organization’s calendar and culture.
You can choose when and how you launch this critical project. Maybe mid-year makes the most sense, when your team isn’t working on framing out other annual strategies. Alternate the depth of the review if appropriate. For instance – one year, you might invest in a deep-dive focus group or sponsored market research report. The following year, you may decide to scale back with benchmark comparisons or profiling exercises. The important thing is to evaluate your buyer personas regularly to embed the insights across the entire company.
Benefits of Regular Supply Chain Buyer Persona Reviews
Regular personal reviews bring real benefits. Some of the top ones for supply chain marketers are:
- Better use of marketing channels
- Tighter, more relevant messaging
- Optimizing marketing spend
From there, persona-based benefits cascade into other areas like customer experience, retention, and loyalty. A customer-infused plan helps the business continuously iterate to create an excellent customer experience. Having everyone on the same page all the time, including partners, starts with personas.
Get Support for Brainstorming and Focus Group Heavy Lifting
At some point, the marketing team and department leaders could become frustrated with the amount of work it takes to pull together a successful persona evaluation every year and lose traction. In that case, it can make sense to bring in an external expert to step in and do the heavy lifting to schedule the time, gather the input, and help organize a strategic plan. A professional guiding the brainstorming sessions gets you farther in less time, and brings a more objective filter with some distance from your business.
Once the information is captured, your marketing team can pivot their approach accordingly, and your internal learning and development resources can disseminate it organization-wide.
What’s your plan for regular buyer persona reviews? Talk to Virago today to strategize around your annual program.