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Buyer Personas: A Series|DirectorsJuly - 2019

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New business is critical to revenue growth.

Organizations work tirelessly to find, target, and attract potential customers. However, in doing so, these companies often make a great deal of assumptions about who their potential customers are, how to reach them, what success looks like for them, and what their business pains are. The most effective way to inform who your best prospects will be, and how your organization can help them, is to look closely at the buyer personas of your current customers. 

It is important to determine who your company works closest with within your customer organizations, and sit down with them to learn all you can. At AE Marketing Group, we usually work directly with C-suite executives because they can make decisions across an entire organization. However, we also work with Director level employees on a day-to-day basis on the details and implementation of our work. Director level employees are the main users of our services, so their personas are just as important to understand as those of C-suite executives. 

79% of B2B buying involves between 2-6 decision influencers or makers. This means it is critical to new business development to understand all personas in the decision making process.

To explain persona research further, and to better our own organization, AE Marketing Group conducted original research within our customer organizations to gather information about our buyer personas. We will be sharing the insights we learned over a three part series, broken out by persona type. In part one, we are examining Director-level personas.

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It was important for us to keep in mind that just as the personas within the C-suite vary based upon role, so do Director personas. While everyone we spoke to might have a Director title, that does not mean that they all look at the business or their role through the same lens.

Our research included interviews with Product Directors, Creative Directors, Digital Directors, and Content Directors, all of whom have different areas of focus, and therefore different goals and definitions of success. For example, a Product Director might see success as establishing a positive product image, while a Content Director might see success in content reach and engagement.  Some of the learnings below may apply differently to different Director personas, depending on their title/focus area.

During our personas interviews we asked a variety of questions about success, goals, and information gathering. We have ranked the top 5 answers for each question below.

What does success look like for you?

  1. Exceeding lead generation goals 
  2. Establishing a strong share of voice
  3. Increasing brand or product awareness online and through earned media
  4. Maintaining a positive brand image
  5. High adoption rates/sales – This is especially important for Product Directors

Across different Director titles, there is high variation in what success means to them depending on their specific job function. This is expected, but often overlooked by organizations when marketing to potential buyers. It is important to always keep in mind who are you talking to within an organization, and how your product or service can help them be successful.

What gets in the way of your success?

  1. Misalignment within the organization
  2. Misalignment with buyers
  3. Lack of resources or training
  4. Bad data/misleading metrics
  5. Industry changes or strict regulations 

When asked what gets in the way of success, misalignment was a common challenge for all Directors. Whether this means misalignment within their own team, between sales and marketing, with leadership, or with their ideal buyers.  However, persona exercises like this can help organizations understand how where there are gaps to improve alignment, communication, and expectations.

What are your personal and professional goals?

  1. Professional growth/promotion
  2. Improving leadership skills
  3. Becoming a thought leader
  4. Expanding public speaking opportunities
  5. Achieving industry awards, certifications, and/or authorship

Although their focus areas may differ, Director levels of all titles and focus areas are working toward similar goals. Becoming a thought leader and growing professionally were goals we heard from every Director we spoke to. When speaking to your potential buyers, it is important to not only show your organizations’ value in achieving the company’s goals, but their individual goals as well.

Where/How do you look for new information and ideas?

  1. Linkedin 
  2. Serving on boards
  3. Soliciting feedback from peers, reports, and the executive team
  4. Attending industry events and conferences
  5. Twitter

We learned through our research that most Directors will turn to Linkedin for industry news and information over any other social media platform. Being connected in an online community of their peers is critical to learning and growth.

Conducting buyer persona research will teach you how to effectively target prospective customers. Once you understand them, all language you use and creative you produce should apply those learnings. At AE Marketing Group, this research has allowed us to communicate more directly with our buyer personas and truly speak their language when pitching our services. Additionally, by going through this exercise we identified an opportunity to help our customers better align their own teams and speak more directly to their own prospects.

In part two of our Buyer Persona Series, we will be examining C-suite personas.

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