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The Value of Target Verticals and Buyer Personas by Richard Harris

Authored by TopOPPS on April 22, 2014

The Value of Target Verticals and Buyer Personas

Lead generation and demand generation circles centers around the concept of buyer personas. We define buyer persona as traits such as titles, roles, and levels of influence with respect to making purchasing decisions for products/services.

Having built many sales teams and trained hundreds of sales reps, I can assure you that this information is mission critical for any sales and marketing organization. Without understanding the needs, desires, and pain points of the people you will engage in, your sale cycles will be longer and may be unsuccessful.

The first step is learning about target verticals.

Target Verticals

Many organizations think that their product can be everything for everyone. However, in most start-up cases, this is not reality. While you may have customers in a variety of verticals and industries, every company should do a deep analysis of their current customers to understand target verticals. A target vertical is a slightly broader definition of industries which are typically defined by SIC or NAICS codes.

Is your product or service is truly only viable for one vertical?

Hotels are classified as being a part of the hospitality industry. And while the industry may be hospitality, the vertical would be travel. When thinking about travel you will start thinking about airlines, hotels, rental cars, which will help expand your market. It’s what companies like Expedia, Travelocity, Hotwire, and Priceline have done moving from hospitality to travel and all that travel encompasses.

I encourage everyone to create more opportunities for yourself and not be limited by the straightforward definition of a vertical, but use the broader definition.

The Value of Target Verticals and Buyer Personas

Lead generation and demand generation circles centers around the concept of buyer personas. We define buyer persona as traits such as titles, roles, and levels of influence with respect to making purchasing decisions for products/services.

Having built many sales teams and trained hundreds of sales reps, I can assure you that this information is mission critical for any sales and marketing organization. Without understanding the needs, desires, and pain points of the people you will engage in, your sale cycles will be longer and may be unsuccessful.

The first step is learning about target verticals.

Target Verticals

Many organizations think that their product can be everything for everyone. However, in most start-up cases, this is not reality. While you may have customers in a variety of verticals and industries, every company should do a deep analysis of their current customers to understand target verticals. A target vertical is a slightly broader definition of industries which are typically defined by SIC or NAICS codes.

Is your product or service is truly only viable for one vertical?

Hotels are classified as being a part of the hospitality industry. And while the industry may be hospitality, the vertical would be travel. When thinking about travel you will start thinking about airlines, hotels, rental cars, which will help expand your market. It’s what companies like Expedia, Travelocity, Hotwire, and Priceline have done moving from hospitality to travel and all that travel encompasses.

I encourage everyone to create more opportunities for yourself and not be limited by the straightforward definition of a vertical, but use the broader definition.

Buyer Personas

This is where the rubber meets the road. If you do not understand your buyers’ journey for each person you engage in your sales cycle, you will struggle for a very long time. Furthermore, the buyers’ journey has little to anything to do with you, your company, or your services, you are sadly mistaken.

In fact, the buyers’ journey has nothing to do with you, your product, or even your service. Let me repeat, the buyers’ journey has zero to do with you.

The buyer journey is focused around one thing: their pain. Your goal whether you are the VP of Sales or the VP of Marketing is to fully understand your buyers’ pains. You need to understand them deeply and intimately. Know it well and your competition won’t be able to take business away from you.

Your buyer personas should break down by target vertical and look to capture high level information across the following parties: decision makers and decision influencers.

Example:

Let’s say you want to focus on the travel vertical. Let’s use the example of online hotel booking companies. For the purpose of this post we will focus on a few roles: CEO, VP of Sales and VP of Marketing. Fill in the following:Untitled 22

TOPIC:                                 CEO                                           VP SALES              VP MARKETING  
Reports To:                           Board                                          CEO                       CEO
Keeps them up at night:        Bookings/Mobile Growth             Closing Revenue    More/Better Leads
Compensated on:                 Bookings/Mobile acquisition        Closed Revenue     MQL’s

You can see the buyer personas are taking shape. While both people are ultimately interested in success of the company because of their role, they have different motivations and drivers.

The CEO, VP of Sales, and the VP of Marketing, while on the same team about solving pain points, have very differing needs when it comes to selecting a solution to that pain.Recognizing this early on, allows you to speak directly to customers with specific regards to your product or service while speaking to their intimate needs and desires. Caution! We are still focusing on their pain, not your product/ service.

Buyer persona are analogous to x-rays. They both provide information to help you construct messaging specific to an individual’s pains. However what if you could go deeper than these surface elements?

What if you could dig deeper and get a full scan, like an MRI, and really get into someone’s psyche?

What if in addition to having the titles and pains known about your customers, you could also see what they have in common across other areas of interest like education level, tenure, etc.?

What if you could send out an email to 100 people, 30 people open, 5 respond and then learn the following?

1. Of the 5, what other similarities do they have and can you find more like them?
a) Education level and institutions, personal interests like hobbies or books they have read?
b) Then you can look for others with similar backgrounds.

2. Of the 25 who opened but did not respond, what if you would find their similarities and retarget a drip campaign to them?
a) Education level and institutions, personal interests like hobbies or books they have read?
b) Then you can retarget those 25 with a more meaningful message.

3. Of the 70 people who did not respond, what if you could find their similarities and retarget a drip campaign to them?
a) Education level and institutions, personal interests like hobbies or books they have read?
b) Then you can retarget those 70 with a more meaningful message.

Wouldn’t this be outstanding? It would be the difference between an X-Ray and an MRI. Knowing your buyer personas is your X-ray. Knowing the similarities of people would be an MRI. As the world of marketing automation, lead generation and demand generation matures we are going to see greater pressure on sales and marketing to increase the quality of leads going into the top of the funnel as well as the revenue that comes out the bottom of the funnel. If you are not improving on your buyer personas and messaging, you are giving up leads and giving your competitors an edge. You may as well give up now and close the doors.

 

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