Every company should consider three very important characteristics of effective database marketing when building a marketing strategy: its ideal prospect profile, the buying personas within that prospect profile, and the buying stages of those personas.
- Ideal Prospect Profile. The ideal prospect profile (IPP) is not a new concept. People in marketing and sales have considered this concept for decades. To be successful, however, companies need to do more than consider the IPP; it must be actualized in the form of a database. That database must include searchable criteria based on industry, revenue range, number of employees, geography and purchasing practices. Beyond simply identifying the ideal prospect, companies need to identify the different strata that define the prospect as “ideal”. When sourcing a list, you’ll discover quickly that not all records are of equal quality or price. By first defining the strata, companies will have a better idea of where to allocate resources. For some, it might make sense to invest in expensive telemarketing in order to identify those ideal prospects at ideal companies. On the other hand, it might make more sense to use a less expensive method to build a database for lower-probability accounts with prospects at companies who might be viable for business at a later date. It is critical to identify the ideal prospect profile before beginning to build a database because it will save time and money in the long term.
- Buying Personas. The second important characteristic of effective database marketing is the buying persona. In B2B, the marketing focus was once the prospect company, as an entity. Today, the focus has shifted to the individuals within a company in charge of making buying decisions. I’ve found that a similar B2C example exists in my house. When my son is watching the Stanley Cup playoffs, commercials for items like Gatorade and XBOX games air during the game. They are advertisements aimed at his demographic. On the same television and from the same DirecTV provider, my 7-year-old daughter watches “My Little Pony” and sees advertisements for Barbie dolls and children’s games. The point is that to DirecTV, my TV provider, we are one household. We are like one company, but the advertisers talk specifically to the buying personas and influencers within the house. B2B marketing and sales has evolved the same way. When individuals go to a website, download a whitepaper, watch a video, engage in a LinkedIn discussion group, and/or read interesting posts on social media, they engage in a very personal way. To accomplish that personal level effectively from a database perspective, companies need to understand their buying personas, as well as the influencers and the pain points associated with each of them. With that information in hand, companies can then message specifically to each persona.
- Buying Stages. Within the ideal prospect profile, there are unique buying personas. Each will walk through a buying journey that is unique to them. The concerns that keep one buying persona awake at night are not the same concerns that worry someone else. Companies need to identify those persona-based concerns and also determine what each buying journey looks like, stage by stage, for those personas. Then, companies can begin to build campaign content to message and engage those personas at each stage, effectively moving them through the funnel and ultimately turning that database into revenue.