Sounds obvious, but all too often personas end up being a repository of what we already know. The positive of this is that this information ends up in one place. The downside is it doesn’t tell you anything you didn’t already know. It doesn’t get you any closer to answering the one question that your entire company should be focused on answering; ”Why should I (your customer) buy from you?”.
If you’re not any smarter, nor any more enlightened, or haven’t uncovered something that you never knew before by the end of your persona work than it was truly a wasted effort.
“Outside-in” vs. “Inside-out”
Many companies will mistakenly develop personas from an “inside out” perspective, building their persona profiles based only on sales input and internally driven perspectives. Personas, to be effective, insightful and differentiating, need to be developed from an “outside in” perspective.
Research has shown that there are 5.4 different buyer personas in the average B2B decision and there can be up to 14 stakeholders within a technology buying decision. Understanding all the stakeholders involved in the purchase decision, their roles and needs, can only be done through true persona research (“outside in”). It is this buying complexity coupled with “inside out” personas that leads to 60% of all B2B opportunities ending in no decision at all (a “stall”).
Buying Team vs. Single Buyer
“In the B2B world creating customer personas is especially helpful because odds are, you’re not selling or marketing to just one person, but rather, dealing with a buying group: a set of individuals with different perspectives, needs, and pain points, who need to come together in order to make a purchase decision. Understanding those people, and who among them has most influence on the purchase decision, can help your brand better support buyers through their buying tasks, to purchase, and through the customer journey to repurchase, loyalty, and advocacy.” (Gartner)
Discovery of what we didn’t know
Importantly, to the point of “not knowing what you don’t know”, we at B2P don’t view persona research as the simple pursuit of answers to questions we start with. Rather, we view it as an exploration into the life of a person who wants to solve a problem that your product could help them with. Our research always uncovers three things:
- Confirmation of things we thought were true
- Correction of things we thought were true but are not
- Discovery of things we didn’t even know we didn’t know.
Let’s go to the videotape!
You might appreciate a few clips from a recent interview Wayne did with the head of a product marketing consultancy, Aventi Group. In just a few minutes, you can learn more about 7 key aspects of making buyer personas work for you, avoiding the pitfalls, and lessons we’ve learned that have created breakthrough business results!
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We at B2P have been working on persona research, within multiple industries and with small businesses to enterprise-type companies for over 15 years. As a result, we have experience and knowledge that we can share with you in helping you get the answers to the questions raised here. In fact, we’ve developed several solution packages to help you get off to the right start.