Moving from Product Centricity to Persona Centricity
Nick Bhasvar has spent over 10 years in B2B marketing, but few know that he spent his early career as an engineer. On the B2B Growth Podcast with Jonathan Green and James Carbary, Nick talks about the shift from product centricity to persona centricity and what it means for marketers.
On October 2, 2017, Get Smart Content rebranded to Bound. The below transcript has been updated to reflect this change.
James Carbary: You’re listening to the B2B Growth show. A podcast dedicated to helping B2B executives achieve explosive growth. Whether you’re looking for techniques and strategies or tools and resources, you’ve come to the right place. I’m James Carbary.
Jonathan Green: And I’m Jonathan Green.
James Carbary: Let’s get into the show.
Jonathan Green: Welcome back to the B2B Growth show. Today we are joined by Nick Bhavsar. Nick is the Senior Vice President of Marketing at Bound. Nick, welcome to the show.
Nick Bhavsar: Thank you Jonathan. I’m a huge fan. I’ve enjoyed listening to the podcasts on my way too long commute for some time now.
Jonathan Green: I really appreciate that. You had mentioned that even before we jumped on today’s episode and it’s fantastic that I think, not only that our content is resonating with our listeners but also that then we get to reengage our listeners on the show, who are bringing their own unique flavor and expertise to the program. It’s coming full circle and I love the fact that we get to do it. Today we’re actually going to be talking about this idea of moving from product centricity to persona centricity for B2B marketers. I’m excited to dive into that topic. But before we get into that, Nick, maybe you can tell our listeners a little about what you and the Bound team are up to these days?
Nick Bhavsar: Sure. I joined Bound, let’s see, a little over 11 months now. It was in October last year and part of the appeal was I was a demand marketer in my career for quite some time and came across this struggle, really trying to engage prospects and provide the best relevant content, so they’d engage drive-in top of funnel interest and then move them throughout the funnel and actually drive to opportunities and ultimately to revenue. And it’s a constant challenge that marketers are faced and constantly trying to figure out how to best engage those prospects. And Bound has a really cool solution to help with that problem. And I thought instead of just buying the solution, let me jump in and join the team from the marketing perspective and it’s been an amazing 11 months, just coming up to it next month. And I’m really looking forward to where we’re heading.
Jonathan Green: That’s fantastic. And you are certainly offering a very valuable solution to a very real problem and you’re a Senior Vice President of Marketing in a marketing business, so you’re bringing an additional layer of expertise. You are able to put your money where your mouth is and execute on some of the strategies that we’re going to be talking about today. Again, moving from product centricity to persona centricity, especially for B2B marketers. Nick, what is this idea? What are we going to be talking about today?
Nick Bhavsar: Early in my career, I was an engineer. I moved over to the dark side of marketing and technical marketing and product marketing. I notice that one of the things that companies were doing was, they came up with these really interesting solutions. For a while, for me, it was in the IT space and they’d come up with these interesting products and then they’d go tell the product marketing team and the product management team, “Hey, go push this stuff out, right? Go let folks know about it. We’ve got this amazing new solution, this widget, better mousetrap type of thing, and go tell a bunch of folks about it and get some interest.” So we did. We had some success with that and I think for a lot of marketers that will resonate. Then we fast forward a few years later and we got into the content side of things and thinking about well, what product or what problem were we helping to solve? How does this actually help solve that problem? We started to pump out really good educational content.
That is definitely a notch towards the customers a little bit more, but now, we start really thinking about personas. The best analogy I can give you is that good salespeople do this instinctively, right? They have the human intuition that when they talk to a person, they immediately diagnose and they figure out: is this somebody that’s in my pipeline or not? Is this somebody that’s junior or is this somebody who’s more senior? Is this somebody that is the first time I’ve ever talked to them, they’ve never heard of us, they don’t have any idea about the product or solution space that we’re in? Therefore, I have to do some education. The core concept around this persona approach or persona centricity is really trying to figure out a way to codify that experience that good salespeople do all the time, when it comes to interacting with prospects. The analogy taken all the way to the extreme is when someone shows up on the website, do you have that same methodology to really think about that intuition? What is this person actually here for?
I think all of us that are in the B2B space know the stats around how many B2B prospects it takes to actually land a deal. The notion that we’re taking is, how do you codify that in a way that when someone shows up to your website, you do recognize if they’re junior versus senior and you do recognize if they are in pipeline or not in pipeline or for account based marketers out there, if they’re in an account that we’re engaged with and what level we’re engaged with them on. That’s the core, center of this thesis is really understanding the personas of who’s coming to your website is really a critical part in starting that whole process.
Jonathan Green: Nick, I think we’ve definitely touched then upon this problem. You had sent me an email before the episode, talking about that marketers cannot be truly successful if their prospects’ and customers’ key decision makers are unknown or anonymous web visitors. We’ve honed in on the problem, but I assume, of course, as we brought it the on the show, we’re not going to be just talking about the problem. There’s also a solution. What do we do to solve this issue?
Nick Bhavsar: Bound in its core provides an analytics and personalization solution for those marketers. The real epicenter of our technology is an underlying platform that we call 360 Persona Technology. We take a bit of information from your website, redirect it to our software and then it starts to de-anonymize, or as we like to say identify that audience. If you’re looking in Google Analytics, you can see how much traffic you’ve got, what conversion points there are, but you don’t really know who’s coming to the website. Similar to how a good salesperson breaks this down, we break it down and codify who’s coming to the website and how they’re experiencing it in the five big categories.
The first one is what we call firmographic. Is this an account that I’ve got on my account based marketing list? What industries is this company from or the person that’s with this company? What industry are they in?
The second one is much more about the individual, demographic. We’ve got some partnerships with some folks like LinkedIn, where we can actually pull back their LinkedIn information and see, are you with … what role are you in? Are you more junior person? Are you more senior person?
The third characteristic is offsite intent. We’ve got a partnership with Bombora that’s really cool and lets us see what kind of content you’ve been consuming on other sites, including other media properties, using their really advanced intent technology and start to get at, are you looking, for example, for virtualization solutions?
The fourth attribute is onsite behavior. That starts to get at, is this the first time that you came to the site? Have you been on the site for 90 seconds? All kinds of attributes related to your web experience and your web behavior.
Then the final one is our marketing automation attribute. Essentially what that does is it lets up pull information about that prospect from your marketing automation directly itself. For a lot of folks that can be, is this person in pipeline? Have they downloaded a white paper? Have they viewed your last webinar?
We take all that information, all five of those different data attributes, and then we first, provide a report, in terms of who’s actually coming to your site based off of all those attributes. Then the second part of that is we start to build a personalization strategy that says, “How do you engage this person best”? That’s what the 360 Persona Technology is, what are those individual personas? Then how do you want to engage them with personalization campaigns? That job is a really cool part, because now, marketers, similar to how a good salesperson as soon as they meet this individual can adjust their marketing programs, depending on who’s actually coming to the site.
Jonathan Green: Yeah. Nick, let’s dive in then a little bit more about this idea of persona centricity. If you and your company have honed in, you’ve captured this information, you’re really trying to personalize the marketing approach based on the persona and not just the service or the product. What are some things that our listeners can be doing? What are some things that they can take back to their team or strategies that they can be thinking about or are there some highlights? I’ve also got a note here talking about successful revenue marketers and their leveraging personalization solutions to build live detailed personas based on data attributes. What does this all look like?
Nick Bhavsar: A good example is a B2B marketing persona. A lot of times we’ll talk through “what is your persona”? They’ll say, “My business is targeting data scientist” and I say, “Great”, but then I ask him, “Okay, how many “Data Dans” showed up to your website last week?” They can throw you the website traffic information, but what they struggle with is actually identifying how many “Data Dans” showed up to the website versus CFOs that had to approve that purchase versus an IT person that has to be involved in that buying community as well. That’s where it really breaks down. For us, we really believe building that out into an actual data persona that says, for us, we take all five of the attributes and say, “Okay, let’s build out what Data Dan actually is. Let’s use these attributes from, for example, LinkedIn that represent their role. Let’s pull these attributes from some of our other data partners on the firmographic side that say, ‘and they’re part of healthcare industry businesses'”. Then we can say, “We want them to have this experience the first time they come to the website versus this experience when they come to the website for the second time”.
Ultimately, you build all that out into that digital persona. Then you start thinking about, what are the experiences you want to take them to? This could be things … This is where it’s really cool to be able to take the technology to the personalization side and say, “Well, let me swap out the homepage image with something, for example, that’s healthcare solutions for data scientists looking to use our latest, if we’re an AI company, our computing power”. You start to be able to introduce a number of different tactics as it relates to the strategy of engaging that data scientist. They can be all kinds of things. You could redirect them to an industry page. You could do a fly in, where you actually take them to an upcoming webinar that you have and that’s only introduced to that specific persona. You can dynamically change the graphics or text on the page. There’s a number of things that you can do to engage them. But ultimately, the epicenter … it comes back to that 360 Persona, really understanding who is it that I’m trying to engage and how to I identify them when they come to the website?
Jonathan Green: Yeah. There was a point that we had made via email about it recognizing the importance of engaging buyers in the active demand stage and creating those personalization solutions to identify that persona, guide them to relevant content. Nick, are there any pieces of advice then in terms of whether it’s starting to think about how can I make this shift to persona centricity or if I’m already thinking about it, ways to implement strategy? Do you have any pieces of advice then for our listeners who are interested in this concept?
Nick Bhavsar: Yeah. It’s interesting that … we were in the crowd when Terry Flaherty with SiriusDecisions introduced the new Demand Waterfall and it was really the most fun part about that was I remember turning around and we took a great B2B selfie shot, where we looked back at all the people who had their phones out taking a picture of the new waterfall. One of the things that we saw that was interesting was the introduction of both the target and the active demand stages. Specifically, that the active demand stage being people who are actively pursuing and looking at your solutions in the market and a lot of those folks are visiting your website. The old stats of 95% of people that visit a website, never actually fill out a form, that’s describing that active stage. Kudos to Sirius for starting to recognize that that’s a critical stage.
That’s one of the ways that personalization can help significantly is being able to say “of those 95% of those folks that are coming to your website, how do you better engage them so they do fill out a form and engage”? In many cases, they never will, right? Often times, when I speak to clients, we’ll ask them, “How many CFOs came to your website last week”? They look around and they’re like, “I know I should know this, but I’ve no way to be able to tell that, because they don’t fill out forms”. That’s often times the truth, but they’re almost always, the client that I’m speaking of directly here has over a $75,000 purchase point, well, a CFO’s going to be involved when they see and have to approve that purchase. I guarantee you before they sign that purchase, they go to the website. Now, they’re not going to fill out a form, but if you knew that a CFO was coming into the site, then that’s a very different persona than the “Data Dan”, that we were talking about earlier.
I would argue that you probably want to take into a non-gated asset, where they can see the ROI and justification for purchasing that’s very different. Those are the types of things that as we start to think through the active stage, and ultimately, what that buying community looks like, and again, kudos to Sirius for being able to articulate this very well, I think they’ve advanced us past account based marketing to a true persona centric approach for demand, which really articulates what each of the individuals in that buying group actually need. Again, the irony of this is when we talk to sales people about this, they instinctively do this, they know if I’m talking to the finance person, there’s no way I’m going to put my free trial in front of this person, right?
Jonathan Green: Yeah.
Nick Bhavsar: This is the fun part, it’s marketers are simply just, in many cases here, catching up to the sales organization.
Jonathan Green: Yeah. That’s fantastic. You hear more and more of the lessons that I think sales can learn from marketing as they start to almost create their own original feel generated sales content and this is a fun example of a lesson that marketing can take away from something that sales has been doing for years. Nick, I think this has been some fantastic content. I know our listeners are going to get a lot out of it. Speaking of our listeners, if any of them are interested in engaging you online, they want to know more about today’s episode, they want to more about what Bound is up to, what’s the best way for them to go about doing that?
Nick Bhavsar: Sure. Well, first I want to thank you for giving us the opportunity. We love talking to marketers, B2B marketers, and you guys have a great platform to be able to engage them. The best way to reach us is our website: getsmartcontent.com. You can reach me on Twitter, it’s nick_bhavsar or on LinkedIn, Nick Bhavsar. I’d love to chat with you and just learn a little bit more about your challenges. One of the ways that we like to engage with folks is basically to give them a free audit of the actual audience that’s coming to their website. For a lot of businesses, personalization is not the right answer, but for many it is. If it’s something that folks are interested in, we’d love to be able to help them out and give them that free audit for what personalization they could potentially do and identify their audience.
Jonathan Green: That’s fantastic. Well, Nick, thanks again so much for taking some time out of your schedule to join us today. It was a pleasure having you on the show.
Nick Bhavsar: Absolutely. Thank you again, Jonathan. I really enjoyed it.
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Jonathan Green: Thank you so much for listening. Until next time.