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Personas with Punch

By now we believe that any competent marketer should use personas, but we still face a crucial question:

Do those personas help us go to market any better? Do they improve our targeting, differentiation, message delivery, message response, prospect conversion, or shorten the sales cycle?

In sum, do personas really matter? The answer, of course, is… it depends. I’m going to tell you what it depends on and how you can learn the stories about six real personas that packed a punch for their managers – well, marketers.

 

Eight Places Personas Have Made a Difference

We have applied Prospect Personas to improve the impact of ongoing marketing efforts as well as to prepare marketers to enter markets that are new or evolving. We have applied them to these eight specific scenarios:

Increasing your market impact:

1. Marketing Effectiveness – to increase the impact of the marketing you are already doing through better targeting, messaging, and differentiation.

2. Purchase Cycle Acceleration – to simplify and speed your sales cycle by better aligning your sales process with your prospects’ buying process.

3. Differentiation – to increase and sharpen communication of the points of difference most important to your prospects.

4. Sales Engagement – to better equip the sales team with insights about who to target and how to help them buy more effectively.  

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             Empowering expansion / evolution:

5. Market Introduction – for the effective launch of a new product or disruptive technology.

6. Market Expansion – for an existing product entering a new market.

7. Market Evolution – for an existing product competing in a market changed by a new technology, competitor, or buying process.

8. Vertical Marketing – for an existing product looking to penetrate a particular industry more effectively.

 

Six Persona Examples

All this is nice theory without real-life examples of personas in action. That is why we have gathered a half-dozen examples of personas we have created that have made a big difference in the life of the companies that commissioned them (the second half-dozen is in the oven for release soon).

Each of these companies already knew a lot about their product and their markets before they decided to invest in understanding their prospect better. Each would claim to have reaped a high “return on insight” (a particular kind of ROI) from their investment of time and money to understand their prospects and the prospect journey.

In fact, I believe the goal of all persona development work is to create a competitive marketing advantage. Accordingly, to protect their confidentiality, we have not identified the clients in these case. However, included are stories from a wide range of companies and industries:

  • Some of the largest multinationals on the planet for whom not succeeding was not acceptable.
  • Some remarkably small companies who really wanted to get the most impact from their limited resources.
  • Some mid-tier companies looking to compete smarter against large competitors with greater resources.
  • Some huge, but stagnant markets along with some small, fast-growth industries.

 

How they did it

One small but large point about this story… the impact on the business came not from simply “doing” a persona, but from how they did it… and did with it.

  • They conducted real research with real prospects – they did not sit in a conference room and “make up” a persona from their assumptions.
  • They explored how prospects thought in an open-ended manner – they did not survey pre-identified questions on how many people said X or Y.
  • They made sure to understand the context and process for buying any security software, not just what they liked about this version.
  • They challenged their assumptions – even though they seemed well-founded – and applied new learning to yield new outcomes.
  • They applied what they learned to their targeting, messaging, go-to-market strategy, and sales enablement… and built on those key insights as their continuing strategy, not just a transient campaign idea.

 

What’s Your Story?

Want to know more? I am happy to send you e-book if you let me know here – it’s being published this month. Be the first on your block to make your mark!

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