The single thing that would make the biggest difference to every B2B marketing strategy is to write a detailed profile of your ideal prospect and get everyone in Sales and Marketing to sign it. In blood. (Or, like, red ink).I really do believe it’s the one act that will make the most impact on your marketing. And even though it sounds obvious—and you may feel you already do it—it’s incredibly rare in B2B. This post is my endearingly naive attempt to change that, making the world a better place not just for marketers but also for every victim of marketing (including you and, especially, me).
A thought experimentYou’re about to give a short pitch to an auditorium full of people. No: two pitches to two audiences. One in Room A, one in Room B. Room A is full of people who your products are literally made for. Every one of them suffers from the acute pains that your products alleviate. They all have the perfect job titles in the right size companies in your target industries. They hate the things you hate and love the things you love. These are your people. In Room B, the audience was chosen at random from a bunch of people who are milling and mingling in and around your market. Homo Sapiens. The sentient. A few of them might even be good prospects. Hard to tell. Now think about how much easier it will be to talk to the audience in Room A. How much more rewarding when they start to nod in agreement as you sketch out their world and list their biggest challenges. How confident you’ll feel as you outline how your solutions slam-dunk those very challenges. How validating when they clap. Now think of how deadening it will be to talk to the people in Room B. No real response. An oil painting. Maybe one guy in row Q looks up from his Android and coughs. No one asks any questions. You get feeble, polite applause (if any) as you slink off stage. Well, today, we’re all spending a fortune to market to Room B. Most B2B companies are so scared of closing down anything that just might, might, might turn into an opportunity (spoiler alert: won’t) that we cast the World’s Widest Net with the world’s smallest holes. We try to appeal to absolutely everyone in our ‘addressable universe’, saying nothing that might alienate even the tiniest micro-segment. Weirdly, this obsession to appeal to everyone virtually guarantees that we actually resonate with no one. There’s a better approach and it’s the exact opposite one: instead of widening your net, narrow it.
Focus entirely on your ideal prospects.Every B2B marketing team feels it has a good grasp of its target audience. After all, there’s that detailed-but-kinda-dusty persona document lying around somewhere. In it, there are little stock photos of ‘Scott the IT Guy’ and ‘Miranda the Procurement Asshole’ (just me?). We even gave them cute little kids (Brett and Kayla) and token hobbies (Scott’s into carp fishing. Miranda likes pulling the wings off of flies.). But these stereotypical snapshots are just job titles with false identities. Shady, out-of-focus characters enrolled in some kind of Prospect Protection Program. They’re nowhere near your ideal prospects.
Who are your ideal prospects?Your ideal prospects are defined by two things:
- They’re the people MOST likely to buy your stuff – Not a little more likely, dramatically more likely. For a whole host of reasons we’ll touch on in a sec.
- They’re the customers most likely to love you once they do buy – This is not the same as the first group. It’s a subset of the first group. They’re the people for whom your products are a perfect fit.