Personas are nothing new, but they seem to be popping up in conversation more often (I am curious why, how about you?). David Meerman Scott has been talking about personas for years (a whole lot of reading here!).
I would like to caution you that personas are not just good old-fashion market segmentation. Heck no!
If you purely slice and dice your market by demographics (B2C) or firmograhics (B2B) you will be missing out on a WHOLE lot of customer information that will affect your marketing efforts and not in a positive way.
The other mistake that marketers make is creating personas from the comfort of their cubicles, conference rooms and white boarding sessions. Sorry, but you are not the customer no matter how well you think you know your industry, products or services. To create proper personas you need to get out there and talk to you customers—a lot. Spend time with them, watch how they use your products or services, what issues do they have or even why did they stop being a customer.
The other challenge with creating personas is being open to expanding persona development well beyond the segmentation that you are comfortable with to the inclusion of:
- Sociographics and,
In fact, I’d wage a bet that understanding ethnographics (especially in an online community setting) will give you all of the data you need to truly understand your customers and what makes them tick. But it’s going to take elbow grease and audience research.
Persona development (when done properly) is the one tool that organizations have to help them ultimately reach a position of customer-centricity. And what could be better than offering products and services that you know will be purchased by a market eager to have their needs and wants fulfilled?
So why do you think personas are popping back up again? I think it’s, as usual, because of social media and social interactions. A lot of marketers and organizations are struggling to get beyond themselves and their agendas to make sense of it all. But jumping on the persona bandwagon will absolutely NOT help if it’s created from the inside-out.
Is your organization using personas? Have you been successful with it? How has using personas helped your organization achieved tangible results?
The Pragmatic Marketer: The Power of the Persona (A Case Study)
“…the persona must be a well-described, archetype of a user group. You know you have a valid persona identified when you can imagine working alongside him, spending time with her, or encountering him while out shopping. In fact, you’ll know you have your persona nailed when you recognize her at a user function.”
Techno+Marketer: Developing personas for marketing strategy
“Personas remove the tendency to think of yourself as the customer. You have to step back and this gives you the structure to do so.
How people screw them up:
- Personas take time and research to get right.
- This includes some time in the field and meeting face-to-face with the customer.
- People think they know their customer without looking at data.
- Personas are often used up front in the marketing strategy process and don’t carry through the process.
Web Ink Now: How well do you know your buyer personas?
Basing your work on buyer personas prevents you from sitting on your butt in your comfortable office just making stuff up, which is the cause of most ineffective marketing.
Buy truly understanding the market problems that your products and services solve for your buyer personas, you transform your marketing from mere product-specific, ego-centric gobbledygook that only you understand and care about into valuable information people are eager to consume and that they use to make the choice to do business with your organization.
[Image: Web Ink Now]