Creating B2B Finance Buyer Personas and Ideal Customer Profiles

B2B Finance Buyer Personas and ICPs

Yes, you need B2B finance buyer personas and ideal customer profiles because no, you don’t “already know everyone.”

This blog post at a glance:
To better reach an elusive audience, understanding your audience better through buyer personas and ideal customer profiles (ICPs) will give you the information needed for stronger marketing programs.

Buyer personas are semi-fictional, generalized representations of your ideal customers. They are developed through qualitative and quantitative research and detail mostly demographics and their personal concerns, thoughts, and processes. They tell you how to reach the right people, in the right places, at the right time.

An ICP is a hypothetical description of the type of company that you would like to sell to. Typically this is a company with the quickest sales turnaround, highest value, the greatest retention rates, etc. ICPs tell you what type of companies your buyer personas work at.

For small or hard to reach audiences like those in the B2B finance industry, account based marketing (ABM) is a perfect strategy for hyper-targeting. ABM combines your B2B finance buyer personas and ICPs to focus more resources on a smaller pool of high-value target accounts. 

We recently sent out a survey to B2B finance marketers to better understand their main challenges. Over 40% indicated that the B2B finance audience is elusive, hard to reach, or just too small to efficiently expand brand awareness.

The Traditional Buyer’s Journey has been Disrupted

One of the first challenges across all industries is that more of your potential customers are researching and making purchasing decisions before ever even talking to a salesperson. According to an Accenture study, 94% of B2B buyers conduct online research at some point in the buying process. And according to Forrester, 59% of buyers prefer to do research online instead of interacting with a sales rep because the rep pushes a sales agenda rather than helps solve a problem (their words, not ours!)

Add to that the challenges with finding and reaching the B2B finance audience, and things seem a bit stressful. 

The Big B2B Finance Audience Challenge

We hear it all the time from our clients – “we already know all of our prospects… the industry is so small… we know the accounts, we know all the key players, we’ve met them all.” 😑

But just because you think you know your buyers, doesn’t mean you really know your buyers. Sure, you may have shaken hands with many of them. You may have identified most of them. You may even understand how a lot of them think. Until you validate your own assumptions, you don’t really know your buyers. That’s why creating B2B finance buyer personas and ideal customer profiles (ICPs) is absolutely critical for any marketing strategy – especially account based marketing (more on that later).

How to Truly Know Your B2B Buyer Personas and ICPs

Buyer Personas

Buyer personas are semi-fictional, generalized representations of your ideal customers. They help you understand your customers (and prospects) better and make it easier for you to tailor content to the specific needs, behaviors, and concerns of different types of buyers. As we saw from the Accenture and Forrester studies above if over 50% of your prospects are moving through their buyer’s journey online without you, how can you ensure they choose you over your competition?

Researching your prospects, through interviews and external sources, provides all the details you need to know: exactly what information prospects want and how they want to receive it. Once you’ve done the research, use personas to bring it to life and better illustrate your target audience. You define your buyer personas by using mostly demographics and details about their personal concerns, thoughts, and processes.

Ideal Customer Profiles

An ICP is the second piece of the puzzle when it comes to knowing your audience. An ICP is a hypothetical description of the type of company that you would like to sell to. Typically this is a company with the quickest sales turnaround, highest value, the greatest retention rates, etc.

You define the ideal customer profile using firmographics, like the company size, revenue, industry, location, etc.

Hard to reach audience? ABM to the rescue!

Once you’ve developed your buyer personas and ICPs, all your marketing strategies should be hyper-targeted to deliver the right content, in the right places, at the right time. 

For particularly small or hard to reach audiences like those in the B2B finance industry, account based marketing (ABM) is a perfect strategy for hyper-targeting. If you know your key accounts and the key players, you can use ABM personalization to focus more resources on a smaller pool of high-value target accounts. 

Almost 85% of marketers who measure ROI describe ABM as delivering higher returns than any other marketing approach.

ABM may be best for you if:

  • Have a CRM and marketing automation platform
  • Want to target 300 or less high-value accounts with marketing that supports sales
  • Have sales data to identify high-value accounts (actual/potential sales value from opportunities or predicted value via Salesforce Einstein)
  • The value of potential sales value among key accounts will allow you enough budget to see true ROI (ABM does require marketing spend with a mixture of paid, earned, and owned marketing tactics
  • Already have developed buyer personas and ICPs and are ready to create personalized content for them
  • Have the team to develop content for your audience + key accounts
  • Have a way to measure the return of ABM tactics

Want to understand what it takes to execute an ABM strategy? Here’s a great article about how Salesforce does ABM.

About the author

Ginny Torok Duwa is the Managing Director at Kadence Digital. She is dedicated to marketing that makes a difference, and gets excited about quantifiable results. She has a specialization in marketing operations and lead generation.