How Well Do You Know Your B2B Audience ... Really?

If you’ve been following my blog and podcast for a while, you’ve probably heard me expound ad nauseam on the importance of knowing your audience.

In content marketing, if you don’t know your audience — I mean really know them — nothing else you do matters. You can have the world’s most advanced content marketing program, but if you don’t know that person on the other side of the screen, you’re wasting your time and effort.

I continue to be astounded by the number of B2B marketers who answer the question “Who is your audience?” with “Umm, well, y’know … companies who need our product.”

And then there are those who can rattle off exactly the type of companies they want to reach — “midsized engineering firms in the oil and gas industry specializing in offshore” — but that’s as far as they go. Ask them which individuals within those companies they want to speak to, and you’ll get a lot of hemming and hawing.

As B2B marketers, our job in identifying our target audiences is twofold: we need to know the individuals we want to attract as well as the companies they work for.

Your B2B Target Audience, Step 1: The Company

B2B audience analysis goes a bit deeper than it does for our brethren on the B2C side. First, we need to know what kind of businesses we’re targeting. Make sure you’re absolutely solid on the answers to questions like

  • In what industry is your target company?
  • How many employees does your target company have?
  • What is your target company’s average annual revenue?
  • Where is your target company located geographically?
  • What is your target company’s structure? Publicly traded or private? Is it more hierarchical or more of a flat-structure organization?
  • What is your target company’s culture like? Is it buttoned-up and “all business” like Delta Airlines, or is it more laid-back and quirky like Southwest?
  • What are some of its key values?

Your Target Audience: The Individual

Have you ever shaken hands with a company? Of course not. Companies are made up of people, and as B2B marketers, we need to make sure that we’re speaking to the human beings on the other side of that screen.

Once you’ve determined who your audience is on the company level, it’s time to go deeper with questions like

  • What is your target audience member’s job title?
  • What is his or her level in the organization? Entry level? Middle management? VP or executive level?
  • Age and gender?
  • What problems does he or she deal with on a daily basis?
  • What are his or her hopes and dreams for the future?
  • What are his or her key priorities?

Once you know your audience — on both levels — you have a solid foundation on which you can build a successful content marketing program. And if you ever find yourself struggling with other aspects of your strategy, come back to this step and chances are everything will fall into place.