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Understand How Buyers Buy: Marketing With the 'Buying Center' Concept [Infographic]

by Glenn Gow  |  
March 4, 2014

In this article, you'll learn...

  • How to expand marketing's understanding of how people buy
  • How to identify your potential customer's buying center
  • How to tailor your message to different buyer personas

As a marketer, you put a lot of effort into understanding your target market. You may hire top marketing firms to help you achieve clarity. You probably use market segmentation to understand where to focus, and you may even gain significant insights into that target market.

Those insights help you understand how to build the right products, develop a product positioning strategy, and fulfill the needs of that target market.

But market segmentation and customer insights are only part of what you need to enter the competitive market. Are you ready to take your efforts to the next level?

Understanding What Motivates a Buyer

A lot has been written about buyers from the perspective of a salesperson, but very little has been written from the marketing person's point of view.

The salesperson understands how to categorize specific people within accounts based on their role in the buying process, but identifying buyers is a more complex process for marketers. Marketers need even more information on how people buy, because a company must begin the marketing process even before those buyers know they have an itch to scratch.

The 'Buying Center'

Marketers need to start marketing to customers well before a potential buyer is ready to talk to a salesperson. The most effective way for the marketer to do so is to use the concept of the "buying center."

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Glenn Gow is an expert in marketing technology, an advisory board member, author, speaker, podcast host, and the CEO of Crimson Marketing. Follow his insights on marketing technology at the Crimson Marketing Technology Blog and read his book, Moneyball for Marketing: How Brilliant Marketers Use Big Data and Marketing Technology to Win.

LinkedIn: Glenn Gow

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  • by Chris Finnie Tue Mar 4, 2014 via web

    I've actually always done this, even if informally. Because, if I'm not talking to the right person about what they really care about, I'm not advancing the sale. And, even though we call it marketing, I've always known that's what its for. Still, nice to see it codified like this. Thanks!

  • by Lawson Abinanti Tue Mar 4, 2014 via web

    Good article but I'm confused by one point - consistent messaging to all personas. At the end, you point out the importance of consistent messaging across personas. I could not agree more! But unless I misread the article, you also point out that because each personas has different pain points, you need to tailor your message to each one. Doesn't that result in mixed messages that negatively the position you are trying to establish?

  • by Jhon Staphen Tue Mar 4, 2014 via web

    I like to see your articles.

  • by Mahak Vasudev Thu Mar 6, 2014 via web

    Love this article! Really helpful. I tried creating buyer personas but was stuck on how to take all the data about our target audience and make a picture of our buyer in simple words.

  • by Randy Thu Mar 6, 2014 via iphone

    That 'key' in the photo is the buyer persona. Nice article.

  • by Kimmy Burgess Thu Mar 13, 2014 via web

    Very interesting article, since every field has got varied persona, so is it possible to built different persona for different class or buyers, but the end result needs to be successful.Though i agree to the fact it is always important to stay focused & competitive under every scenario but at the same time it is important to know who is the competitor.

  • by Donna Duncan Thu Mar 13, 2014 via web

    I want to try to address Lawson's question having to do with mixed messages. Glenn will have to step in if I miss the mark.

    I think Glenn's point about being consistent and tailored in your messaging is not contradictory. Let's use the example Glenn gave of Technical Ted having a lot of technical questions about the software and Miserly Mitch being concerned about costs. Your messaging should NOT tell Ted he'll have all the support he needs without explaining the how so Miserly Mitch can understand what it will cost.

    In the example above, Glenn suggests Technical Ted could make use of a free forum the company has setup so individual users can exchange best practices and leverage existing tools and techniques. He suggests the company write a detailed blog post for Miserly Mitch, explaining how he can factor in the cost of support into his purchasing decision when a forum is involved. The communications address the individual needs of each persona, but also are consistent.

    Hope that makes sense.

  • by Glenn Gow Thu Mar 13, 2014 via web

    Chris - Great to hear you're applying this in your marketing efforts! It's very important to get your messaging to your audience on the channels they frequent.

    Lawson - Your brand message is what needs to be consistent, but your buyer personas "hang out" in different places. You want to get your message to them where they are, not where you think they are.

    Jhon - Thank you!

    Mahak - I'm glad you found my article useful and informational. The trick is to segment your buyer based on characteristics, not look at them as a whole. It's quite common to have multiple buyer personas.

    Randy - Glad you enjoyed it!

    Kimmy - Your buying center/personas is only one piece of the pie. It's also very important to understand your competitors, their tactics, what works/doesn't work for them, and what you can learn from all of this.

    Donna - You are exactly right! Great synopsis!

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