One key component of inbound marketing is to focus the communication on the decision makers, the preparers and the influencers with their individual needs, strenghts and weaknesses. The idea is to get a better idea of who you are communicating to. As a result you develop a micro-positioning towards of all these groups. I kept vague in my e-book, but following a few blog postings in the last days I would like to define it more clearly. Chris Koch of ITSMA pointed out in his blog that there are four groups of CIOs to be defined. This is a differenciation originally by the CIO magazine (I took this shorter version of the first 3 from the Savvy B2B-Marketing Blog):
- Function Head: These CIOs are primarily focused on activities that face the IT organization and are intended to achieve IT operational excellence.
- Transformational Leader: These CIOs are primarily focused on creating change for their enterprise through close partnerships with business operations and cross-functional corporate departments. CIO leadership activities are centered more on process reengineering and automation, not just delivering the basic IT services.
- Business Strategist: These CIOs focus most of their attention on driving business strategy for competitive advantage.
- Turnaround Artist: These are a small, powerful minority of CIOs who defy categorization. You can find the Turnaround Artists in any of the archetypes, but they have one important issue that marketers need to be aware of: they’ve been brought into fix what the business thinks is a broken IT department.
Marketing author David Meerman Scott (we will have a guest posting by him in the next two weeks) has developped the concept of the buyer persona. In B2B this means: Instead of general target groups of companies the marketing strategies and tactics should focus on the ideal person of decision makers, preparers and influencer with their indivdual needs, wishes and tasks. This is the way to let them see their needs etc reclected in the marketing activity. Some of those needs might be company-based, some might be personality-based. There might not be a great difference between the groups, but I guess it is a good excersise to go through the whole spectrum. They will be glad to receive helpful information for their tasks from the company without having to ask for them. This can be decisive if a company gets onto the supplier-short-list or not. David Meerman Scott recommends to give those buyer persona names, biographies, positions in an organization or career paths.
It is also helpful to define all groups, who are affected by a desicion. They should also be part of the buyer persona. An IT investment e.g. affects the user, who has to work with the system, the IT staff who has to iunstall and support the system as well as employees who have to work with the new output.
Typical questions to get an idea of them are e.g.:
- What are their personal targets and hopes?
- Which problems do they have in their daily work
- Which way do they generally use to find solutions?
- What is important from their point of view?
Therefore categories for the definition of your buyer persona will be
- company size
- existing systems (e. g. SAP as Enterprise Resource Planning solution)
- individual attitude and expectations towards them (see Chris Kochs CIO archetypes)
- individual risk attitudes
- individual degree of freedom in decision making