You can’t sell to people you don’t know, in the sense that you need to understand your potential customers in order to craft an effective marketing strategy.
That’s even more true for B2B marketing. You’re not just selling a product. You’re selling a relationship because B2B customers often make long-term commitments to the company they choose. They also tend to have bigger budgets than B2C customers, which means it takes a lot to convince them to choose a company over everyone else.
Too many B2B marketers use the term “target market” and “target audience” interchangeably, but they’re actually two different concepts.
In this article, we’ll break down the difference between the two and share tips on how to define your own B2B market and audience. In addition, we’ll also show a few examples of B2B target audience profiles to jumpstart your brainstorming session.
Understanding target markets and audiences
Visualize your B2B target market as a big circle, and inside that is the general population of your potential customers. Now imagine a smaller circle inside the big one. That’s your target audience, which is a subset (aka a specific segment) of your target market.
It’s crucial to define the two because they require different marketing messages. Your target market is the ones who want or need your B2B solution, and given the right conditions, they are likely to do business with you.
On the other hand, your B2B target audience is not necessarily the ones who’ll spend that money (though they can be as well), but they’re certainly part of the decision-making process.
Let’s illustrate that with a super simple B2C example:
- Your target market is children aged between 2 and 8.
- Your target audience is the parents of those children, who’ll be the ones buying your toys.
See the difference? You need to market to both of them, but you’ll be using wildly different messaging.
For instance, when targeting children, you’ll focus on creative visuals and fun messages. When targeting their parents, you’ll be emphasizing the educational value of your toys.
The same rules apply to the B2B space. Now let’s explore a few examples of B2B target audience profiles.
- Your company offers B2B SEO tools.
- Your target market is SEO professionals and SEO agencies.
- Your target audience might be CMOs, marketing directors, and business owners who need to understand why they should be investing in SEO tools and then decide which one is the best option for their company.
As you can see, defining your target market and your target audience has a profound impact on your entire B2B marketing strategy. Neglect one or the other, and you risk wasting time, money, and resources.
But if you nail it, you’ll be able to craft the perfect messages that will get both your target market and your target audience on board.
How to determine and define your target audience
B2B target audience requires data, and the more you can get, the better.
An excellent place to start is by researching the current customer data you already have. Pull information from places like Google Analytics (GA), customer surveys, sales reports, email lists, social media analytics, and so on.
Answer questions such as the following:
1. Who are your current customers?
For example, they may be from a certain industry, region, or business size. They may also have specific job titles, salaries, and skills. List all of those, as well as anything else you know about them.
2. What does your GA data tell you?
Google Analytics offers a wealth of data about who’s visiting your website, and this includes your customers. Comb through your GA reports to find key insights such as demographics, the devices they use, and even which platforms they come from before they land on your website.
You can also get valuable psychographic insights from GA. Psychographics are concerned with elements like your customers’ opinions, interests, and activities. These can be used to create a more accurate portrait of your customers, which can lead to better marketing strategies.
On top of that, GA data can also tell you what times of the week your customers are most (and least) active.
This is especially relevant for digital-first businesses. Analyze your customer data to determine when they’re most active online, which will help you create the most effective campaigns.
3. What are your top competitors doing?
Examine your competition’s marketing activity to see what their target audience looks like. Check out their website SEO performance – where does their traffic come from, and what are their best-performing pages and content? Their paid advertising activities hide nuggets of insights as well. For example, what kind of language do they use in their ads, and what types of creatives are they running?
Finally, look at their social media activity. What kind of followers do they have, and what kind of content are they creating? All this will give you a better understanding of their marketing strategy and the groups they’re aiming it at.
4. What does your social following look like?
Now, list all of the social media channels your business has a presence on. Take advantage of each platform’s analytics data to gather information about your followers on each one.
Who are they? What do they like, and what don’t they like? Do their interests change across different platforms? What kind of content media gets the most engagement? Make sure to get both quantitative and qualitative data on your social media following.
5. Who are the people you should exclude from your target audience?
Part of defining your target audience is knowing who doesn’t fall into that category. Marketing to this group will simply be a waste of time and resources. To determine who won’t be part of your target audience, take the data gathered from each stage and compare it with your business objectives.
As an example, if you provide luxury goods, then your target audience won’t include people with low incomes. The same goes for industries that have stringent regulations on who can buy their services or products.
Once you have all of this data, you can start drafting a preliminary B2B target audience profile. Be sure it answers the following questions:
- What problems or pain points will your B2B company solve for this specific audience?
- Who are the decision-makers within this group?
- What motivates them to make a purchase?
- Which channels do they prefer for communication?
- What demographic attributes do these decision-makers have in common?
- What kind of psychographic traits is similar among them?
- How do they engage with B2B companies like yours?
Aside from that, you also need to make sure that your B2B target audience is big enough to make a return on your marketing investment.
B2B target audience examples
Building on what we discussed earlier, your initial B2B target audience profile should include the following data:
- Education level
- Marital status
- Job title/role
- Household income
- Interests and hobbies
- Platform preferences (e.g., do they prefer social media vs. e-mail)
Some of these, like hobbies and household income, are more relevant to B2C companies.
Aside from the above, B2B audience profiling should also consider business attributes such as:
- How long their business has been operational
- How many employees they have
- Business location/s
- Annual turnover
- Partnerships and alliances they have in place
- Business objectives and priorities
- Any issues they are facing in their industry
- Their buying process
- Their online presence and activity level
So how would that data look when applied to actual B2B target audience profiles? We prepared a few samples you can use to model your own. Here are they:
Sample 1: ECommerce website platform
- Demographics: 40% male, 60% female, ages 25-40 y.o.
- Job titles/roles: Ecommerce manager, website developer, director of digital marketing
- Psychographics: hates long wait times for support, values trustworthiness and reliability
- Issues and challenges: finding a cost-effective yet high-quality e-commerce website solution
- Preferred channels and content types: newsletters, industry blogs, white papers
- Business attributes: established businesses with at least 5 employees, annual turnover of $250K to $1M, strong online presence, and active on social media
Sample 2: All-in-one SEO toolset
- Demographics: 50% male, 50% female, ages 20-55 y.o.
- Job titles/roles: Website manager, SEO professional, SEO freelancer, agency buyer
- Psychographics: wants reliable support and guidance, values consistency
- Issues and challenges: always under time pressure, existing tools not fulfilling needs, need fast methods to derive website insights
- Preferred channels and content types: social media, video demonstrations, webinars, podcasts
- Business attributes: startup businesses with up to 5 employees, solo freelancers with an annual turnover of $50K to $500K, low online presence, and need a better SEO strategy
Sample 3: Customer service management desk
- Demographics: 70% male, 30% female, ages 40-55 y.o.
- Job titles/roles: Customer service manager, customer support manager, business owner
- Psychographics: Prioritizes excellent relationships with suppliers, needs reliable solutions
- Issues and challenges: Poor experiences with other tools, must have cost-effective solutions, scalability is a must
- Preferred channels and content types: Video demonstrations, webinars, word-of-mouth recommendations, referrals
- Business attributes: Established businesses with over 10 employees, annual turnover of $500K to $5M, strong online presence, might serve as a referral source
Sample 4: Business intelligence solution
- Demographics: 70% male, 30% female, ages 35 y.o. and older
- Job titles/roles: Data analyst, business analyst, IT professional
- Psychographics: Needs to make data-driven decisions quickly and accurately, values intuitive solutions
- Issues and challenges: Unreliable data sources, need to quickly run predictive analyses
- Preferred channels and content types: Online videos, webinars, case studies, white papers
- Business attributes: Mid-sized businesses with over 10 employees, annual turnover of $2M to $5M, strong online presence, and active on social media platforms. Investment in marketing analytics is a priority.
Sample 5: Accounting software
- Demographics: 70% male, 30% female, ages 40-55 y.o.
- Job titles/roles: Financial analyst, accountant, CFO
- Psychographics: Values accuracy and reliability of data, need to quickly process large amounts of data
- Issues and challenges: Difficulties in managing ever-changing data regulations, need to access real-time information
- Preferred channels and content types: Webinars, case studies, white papers, blog posts
- Business attributes: Established businesses with over 10 employees, annual turnover of $1M to $10M, strong online presence, and active on social media platforms. Investment in financial management software is a priority.
Lastly, what can you do with your B2B target audience profile once you have it? Use these tips:
- Use the profiles to create content tailored to the interests of each audience segment – consider what topics, formats, and channels are best suited for each group.
- Leverage the B2B target audience profile to inform your advertising and remarketing campaigns.
- Segment your email marketing lists based on the characteristics outlined in the profile to ensure you’re sending relevant offers and content.
- Monitor customer feedback and track customer engagement to fine-tune your approach and ensure maximum relevance.
- Monitor competitor activity and adjust your strategy accordingly to stay ahead of the competition.
- Leverage data insights to inform product development decisions and continuously improve the customer experience.
- Use the profile to create a unified buyer persona across all of your channels.
- Develop loyalty programs that reward customers based on their interests and activities outlined in the B2B target audience profiles.
And that’s just the beginning. You can use your B2B target audience profile for almost every step of your marketing and sales process, ensuring you are delivering the right message to the right people. With this knowledge in hand, you can make smarter decisions that drive greater results for your business.
Wrapping it up
By carefully crafting an audience profile, you can be sure that the campaigns you create will suit the people you’re marketing to. It’s also the key to developing an effective B2B content and digital marketing strategy for your business.
We at Common Ground can assist you with every aspect of your B2B marketing strategy, from defining your target market and target audience to designing a custom marketing strategy tailored to your company’s needs. Contact us today to book one of our limited slots for a FREE 30-minute strategy call!