Who are you marketing to? Decision makers vs decision influencers

by | May 30, 2023

One of the fundamental mistakes businesses make when they invest in marketing is failing to spend time trying to understand who they are marketing to and what is important to those people. The result of this is a pretty scattered approach to marketing that often does not result in consistent or reportable results.

There are frameworks out there that have been designed to overcome this problem. You have probably heard of Ideal Customer Profiles (ICPs), we call them Buyer Personas. And whenever I speak with a business who is having some challenges getting cut through with their marketing, I always ask if they have documented their Buyer Personas – often the answer is ‘no’, sometimes the answer is ‘yes’. Upon drilling down further, I uncover that the business may have identified one Buyer Persona, in some detail, but they often come back and say something like, ‘We’re getting through to the Decision Maker (DM) and having a conversation with them, but we can’t get the deal over the line’.

This can point to the DM getting push back from their employees, or important influencers like Finance stakeholders; then deciding it is all too hard and failing to proceed with a purchasing decision.

Maybe a marketing approach that includes Decision Influencers would help in this scenario?

So we categorise Buyer Persona’s into:

1. Decision Makers

The person who needs to sign the dotted line.

2. Decision Influencers

Those people in the business who have the power to influence the DM.

3. Negative Personas

People we don’t want to market to. I don’t honestly spend much time working out who these people are. I figure if you have accurately identified the other two, logically you won’t be marketing to these ones. But this may not be the case for all industries.

So we create an inbound marketing funnel for the Decision Maker. The messaging for this funnel focuses on what is important to them – the messaging is often commercial in nature e.g. build efficiencies, decrease costs, improve XYZ etc etc.

But commercial messages don’t always resonate with the Decision Influencers. Decision Influencers are sometimes long standing employees with huge amounts of corporate knowledge. In the SME space, these personas generally are adverse to change, worry about their job security and don’t want anyone messing with the status quo. In the past, we have had success navigating these personas through a funnel that feeds them content about how the product or service can ‘add more time back into your day’, ‘have someone else do the tasks you don’t enjoy’, or ‘give you more support’. The messages are more personal and focus on what the benefits are for them. And then come the case studies and testimonials from people just like them who have adopted the product and service and love it.

Next time you are having trouble getting DMs to ‘sign the paperwork’ ask them about their team and whether they are onboard with the decision. This might give you the insights and motivation to build a Decision Influencer Buyer Persona and include it in your inbound marketing strategy.

If you need help identifying who your buyer personas are, then download our template. It is designed to step you through exactly what is required to successfully map them all out. It is a valuable first step to building a sustainable inbound growth engine for your business.

Learn how to develop your own custom buyer personas and build a sustainable inbound growth engine for your business.