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Developing Your Manufacturing Buyer Personas

Content | Strategy

Buyer personas are an important part of any successful marketing strategy as they are the means to guide your efforts. Many B2B manufacturing organizations struggle with understanding the new buying behaviors of today and how to keep up these behaviors that are changing quickly. When researched thoroughly, manufacturing buyer personas can illuminate who your buyers are, the situations they are faced with, and most importantly what goals your buyers are attempting to accomplish.

 

What is a Buyer Persona?

A persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers. Target personas include customer demographics, behavior patterns, motivations, and goals. Buyer personas provide tremendous structure and insight for your company. 

 

Why Do We Need Buyer Personas?

Buyers are 48% more likely to consider companies that personalize their marketing to address their specific problems. By creating buyer personas for your manufacturing company, you are able to help refine your understanding of customer needs and wants and provide a foundation to develop a strategic marketing and sales plan. 

 

Outlining Your Manufacturing Buyer Persona

Understanding buyers can vary among different silos, especially in the manufacturing industry. To better understand your buyers and help you overcome barriers, outline your buyer personas in a way that will give you insights to their job roles and responsibilities, their buying and decision making process, and what success looks like to them. Below are examples of personas for Purchasers/Buyers, Maintenance Repair Operators, Design Engineers, CEO/President and OEMs:

 

Purchaser/Buyer

Job Function
  • Utilizes the “approved vendor list” as first resource for finding suppliers
  • Researches products and services required by engineering and production
  • Tracks shipments to ensure on-time arrival and smooth process 
  • Collects and keep on file all technical information and product information including: certifications, machinery, capabilities. 
Buying Behavior
  • Looks to the Internal “approved vendor list” to identify an existing vendor 
  • External search (Google) for vendors if they do not find the appropriate suppliers on the pre-approved list
  • Works with engineering to ensure the right suppliers are identified based on technical aspects; they are final decision makers on product selection
  • Negotiates price and delivery for both stock products and custom manufactured components
  • Main concerns are cost, lead time, quality, and ongoing deliverability
Challenges
  • Ensures that the right products are sourced and purchased from reliable suppliers at the best price
  • If they don’t pick the right supplier (poor quality, late delivery) all productivity stops
  • Finding suppliers that will deliver on-time consistently.  
  • If the project runs over budget due to poor supplier selection, they fail, the company loses money and nothing can be produced.
How to Make an Impact
  • Demonstrate our ability to step right into the supply chain that exists as a new or replacement resource, the more likely we are to make the “short list” for consideration
  • Make capabilities, certifications, etc. known on a regular basis
  • Treat purchasers as extensions of our own team and give them the documentation they need to get us on the approved vendor list.  Once we are in, they won’t want to use anyone else
  • Offer as much info about your products or services as possible. Examples of who you currently work with, industries served, measurable quality standards, your supply chain capabilities, and certifications are desirable 

 

MRO (Maintenance, Repair & Operations) Managers

Job Function
  • Handle on-going maintenance and emergency repairs
  • Manage existing installations and systems
  • Advanced technical knowledge of the systems they maintain 
  • Interested in product bulletin information, updates to installation best practices, new products to replace existing technology
Buying Behavior
  • Buy for both planned purchases and emergency orders
  • Purchase both small and large orders; one time and repeat
  • Replacement parts are ordered early; consumable products are kept on hand to be replaced on a more regular basis.
  • Loyal to suppliers who help them during emergency situations
  • Can be on almost any device – desktop, laptop, tablet, phone in the field
Challenges
  • Trying to plan all necessary system maintenance to eliminate unplanned interruptions
  • Inevitably dealing with the chaos of a system failure and working feverishly to get back to full productivity with the least impact
  • Knowing that they can be called on at almost any hour of the day to come in and handle an emergency
How to Make an Impact
  • Proactive with repeat orders to ensure up time and emergency support 
  • Provide information about product life cycle and required maintenance 
  • Provide them with the tools to ‘save the day’ when the time comes. 
  • Availability during emergencies; provide an emergency number and be able to get all hands on deck to ensure they have the products needed to solve the problem
  • Produce content for MRO managers that helps them in their darkest hour can pay huge dividends over time

 

Design Engineers

Job Function
  • Degreed engineers or manufacturing professionals who focus on problem solving
  • Adept at reading and creating CAD drawings
  • Designs parts and assemblies for prototype and high volume
  • Designs can use existing products and newly designed components
Buying Behavior
  • Strong input in the buying process, recommends products by brand and part number 
  • Need to be completely confident in the abilities of the products they are specifying; they want to talk with suppliers who actually know vs ‘parroting’ information
  • Mainly using a desktop computer 
Challenges
  • They are relied upon to solve all functional problems of a product or project
  • If they can’t develop a solution to the problem, the project can’t move forward; costing time and money
How to Make an Impact
  • Let them know we speak their language
  • Gain Trust; they develop trust in companies and will advocate for certain products or suppliers because they believe it will reduce the risk associated with the success of the project. 
  • Deliver “nothing but the facts” 

 

OEM SMB CEO/President  

Job Function
  • Manages overall operations, determines strategy and direction for company
  • Allocates capital and resources to company priorities
  • Makes major corporate decisions
  • This CEO also seeks investments, participates in R&D, heads marketing initiatives and even vacuums the carpets
Buying Behavior
  • Strictly focused on the bottom line and the cost-to-own of partnerships
  • Final input in buying process; works closely with all major branches of business to make the final decision
  • Utilizes search engines for research
  • Keen on partnerships with companies that offer “value added” services
Challenges
  • Due to small client base, highly dependent on expected revenue from each client. If anything goes wrong it can seriously jeopardize the business
  • Small management team (or lack thereof) means a struggle to meet all demands
  • Fighting for survival and must therefore focus on day-to-day operations, rather than planning future growth
  • Overall cost control and reduction 
How to Make an Impact
  • Introduce processes for greater efficiency  
  • Introduce any cost-reduction advantages  
  • Ensure exceptional customer service 

 

Decision-making relative to go-to-market strategies, marketing, and sales can amount to a guessing game. Buying behaviors are constantly changing and executive teams are seeking a qualitative understanding of buyers as well as quantitative. Developing a detailed buyer persona can help manufacturers determine where to focus efforts, guide product development, and allow for alignment across an organization – And as a result attracts the most valuable visitors, leads, and customers to the business. Ready to create your manufacturing buyer personas? Download your free Buyer Persona Template to get started.