As a general definition we can say that personas are a fairly generalised representation of your typical customer. They are fictional but are often based on a customer you know, and the better ones are founded on customer research, including interviews and/or surveys. Some businesses have just a handful of personas, and one business I know has 19. Newscorp lists 24 personas of their "audience" on their - and if you are an advertiser, they can show exactly how to reach your particular customer.
For B2B, the persona will relate to the role they have, some typical information about who the person might be, some demographics, the nature they might have, what their typical goals and challenges are.
So, for example, if your business offers CRM solutions to small-to-medium sized businesses, your persona might define the typical demographic of a business owner, or even the sales manager. Their challenges might be increasing sales, getting salespeople to make enough calls, conversion rates. Their goals then are to increase sales, get more customers and such like - knowing this means your CRM offering is targeted to meet those needs.
Having a persona then, in theory, allows you to tailor your messages for that particular customer, their needs their problems. It allows marketers to develop relevant content and it allows sales people to better understand their customers.
All sounds good and seems to be a sensible approach. However, to me personas seem to satisfy the logical parts of our brains. It seems very logical to have analysed the typical customer and define who they are, their needs and goals.
But here's the rub - customers do not buy logically, they buy emotionally.
The decision to buy is always emotional, then we seek rationale to justify the decision.
So the persona will help us identify a particular profile of customer that meets some basic criteria, but that is not why they will buy from you. It's all about the emotions.
Let's say you are a website designer, and you truly make beautiful websites. You persona might be small business owners that either want to have a web presence, or want to improve their web presence. Okay, does that narrow it down enough...nope.
Okay, so what you are looking for then is small business owners who are with the performance (various criteria) of their website. And, you are also looking for small business owners who are at the complexity of getting their own website up. These emotions, and are far more likely to drive a change - a decision to buy - especially when you provide a pathway from those feelings.
Likewise when I talk with sales managers about the performance of their team, it is only the ones that are interested in my ideas and suggestions. The or sales manager has very little to change.
We all realise the value of a positive customer experience. If our service, culture or processes the customer, then we know the customer will look for alternatives that won't them. But if we asked them why they left we would hear logical reasons - "" - "" - but it was the emotion of that triggered the reason to leave. Which is why we need to design and implement customer experiences that produce emotions that lead to advocacy.
The one thing you need to add is the emotion that triggers the interest or attention from your ideal customer. Once, you know the emotion you are looking for it will be easy to recognise...you can even develop questions that prompts the customer to share their emotions.