The hard truth is that no one came out of 2020 unscathed. So, as marketers, how does that change the way we work with our customers in 2021?
Here's a quick reminder of why personas are so important (even if they've fallen off the top of your priority list) according to this helpful article:
- They explain who your ideal customer is through demographic and psychographic details.
- They offer buyer insight that helps you understand why your ideal customer pulls out their credit card or PO form to buy from you or your organization.
Ask yourself: How has the pandemic, social unrest, or uncertain political environment changed your ideal customer profile (ICP)?
2020's Impact on People
Let's take a peek inside the windows of the homes in which organizations' employees reside.
Parts of the US are still in lockdown, and we're also still in a precarious political situation and struggling with blatant racism in our country. People are having visceral responses to those realities, according to the CDC:
- Fear and worry about their own health and the health of their loved ones, their financial situation or job, or a loss of support services they rely on
- Changes in sleep or eating patterns
- Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
- Worsening of chronic health problems
- Worsening of mental health conditions
- Increased use of tobacco, alcohol, and other substances
Do any of those sound uncomfortably familiar? If this were a Facebook quiz, I'd be a 1, 2, 3, and 6, with a side of 5.
How do people react to anxiety?
Animals react to anxiety differently than they do to fear, according to a paper published by the US National Library of Medicine: “Anxiety may just be a more elaborate form of fear, which provides the individual with an increased capacity to adapt and plan for the future.”
How do people react to fear?
According to the same paper, fear is a different beast: “Animals may learn to fear situations in which they have previously been exposed to pain or stress, and subsequently show avoidance behavior when they reencounter that situation.”
Assuming that the laws of the animal kingdom apply (highly likely in my opinion because, of course, science), there's a whole subset of humans spending a lot of time on avoidance as they face the daily grind of exposure to complex and exhausting circumstances.
But where can they go to avoid the fear? Being in lockdown means the very source of the fears we want to avoid are right there in our living rooms, our home offices, and on mundane errands such as trips to the grocery store.
How People and Companies Buy Your B2B Products Today
Whether the businesses you're targeting are thriving or not, their employees are dealing with a complex range of emotions—from oppression to general uncertainty. Those emotions are triggering tangible behaviors that will, in turn, affect how you do business.
Now, I'm not saying to take advantage of the precarious situation we live in—in fact, quite the opposite. It's important be sensitive to the situation so you don't accidentally step into a giant puddle of “NOPE” in a bid to serve your customers.
Your best-case scenario is to be of service to people who are struggling with fear and anxiety by offering tools and products that better support them, whether for anxiety-induced planning (How can we help them plan for the future?) or avoidance (How can we help them take in meaningful information while making authentic connections?).
Changing Your Approach to B2B Buyer Personas
Now, let's turn those questions into messaging, relationship, andcontent strategies for your revised buyer personas.
1. How can we position our products and services to help create long-term security?
- Create whitepapers that help them understand the long- and short-term impact of their industry.
- Rework product and service pages to show how the offerings can help prove their success/impact over time.
2. How can we help them plan and build?
- Provide planning templates.
- Offer calculators to help them estimate impact.
- Put on live events that allow them to ask critical questions from experts.
3. How do we need to change our offerings to help them look down the road?
- Build strategic planning tools into the offering.
- Offer more customer service support to help them plan for the future.
- Rework offerings to be more flexible so they can choose based on what they need in the moment.
4. How can we receive and act on their feedback more effectively?
- Systematize feedback collection.
- Create intentional loyalty loops.
- Build transparency into the road map.
- Publicly celebrate when feedback is incorporated into an offering.
1. What are ways we can provide moments of escape?
- Offer an experience that takes them out of their reality.
- Find ways to incorporate sensitive humor.
- Send them real-life things to bring delight.
2. How can we help avoid overwhelm?
- Offer micro-content that allows them to take it in one bite at a time.
- Simplify messages—the “keep it simple, stupid” (KISS) approach.
- Invest in the customer journey and plan out every step in the process.
3. How can we create real moments of connection?
- Review brand voice for authenticity.
- Deploy ambassadors into the market to interact with prospects that truly empathize with their issues.
- Invest in a community that creates a framework for people to help one another.
4. How can we help people feel comfortable with their decisions?
- Focus on previous customer satisfaction ratings.
- Invest in case studies to show (not tell) about the success of their product “in the wild.”
- Solicit reviews from happy customers on impactful platforms.
The Power of B2B Buyer Personas
Regardless of the future implications of the pandemic of 2020 and 2021, we're still dealing with today's marketing demands. Considering the larger picture will help you and your organization to develop deeper empathy and, as a result, forge a more genuine connection with your audience as you roll out campaigns.
The more we see our customers as people who have needs and feelings, the greater chance we have to connect with them on an emotional level in our marketing offerings—not to manipulate them into buying, but to draw in those we can serve and make their lives and jobs truly better.