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The Significance of Buyer Personas

Business Leadership

The Foundational element to harmonize your marketing and sales endeavors.

During my tenure as vice president of marketing in multiple technology companies, I vividly recall the challenges my team of marketing professionals faced in earning the respect of our sales counterparts. Simply possessing extensive product knowledge wasn’t sufficient. Ultimately, we triumphed by becoming the foremost authorities on our buyers within the company.

The sales team remained indifferent to the brochures we meticulously crafted or the websites we painstakingly developed. Rarely did they offer commentary on our email newsletters or the trade shows where we delivered speeches. However, once we effectively comprehended and delineated our buyer personas, we significantly reduced the sales cycle for the representatives who embraced our strategies. Only then did the sales team extend their respect and accolades.

Unfortunately, most sales and marketing teams continue to operate in disjointed fashion. Marketers and salespeople question each other’s skills and commitment to their respective roles. Disputes erupt over the quality of leads. I distinctly recall hearing about a sales team that derisively referred to the marketing department as the “T-shirt department,” suggesting that all the marketers accomplished was producing T-shirts emblazoned with the company logo. Others dubbed the marketing department the “branding police.”

In turn, marketers complain about their materials going unused by the sales team. They express frustration over untouched sales leads, attributing it to the sales staff’s perceived laziness in picking up the phone.

Consider the most recent product launch event within your own organization. Were the salespeople hanging on every word as the marketers detailed the features of the latest product, service, or marketing plans? If you’re honest, like most individuals I’ve spoken with, the salespeople were likely bored, engrossed in their smartphones instead of paying attention.

However, imagine delivering a talk to the sales team that delves into each significant buyer persona, elucidating the attributes that define those who make purchases. Such an approach would undoubtedly capture their attention!

Becoming the Ecoming the Authority on Buyers Within Your Organization

A majority of marketers engage in fabrication. They sit comfortably in their offices, conjuring up notions of what might captivate buyers, and subsequently create “copy” and “campaigns” often with the assistance of equally uninformed agencies.

As I’ve emphasized numerous times at Business Mastery over the past several years, the more you understand your buyers, the more harmoniously aligned your marketing and sales efforts become. The strategy of conducting buyer persona research represents an immensely powerful means of transcending the competition.

Buyer personas, the distinct demographic segments encompassing your potential customers, hold critical importance in achieving successful marketing that leads to sales triumph.

Crafting marketing and sales initiatives that cater to specific buyer personas outperforms the outcomes derived from idling away in your cozy office, conjuring up fictional narratives about your products.

For those of you employed by organizations that don’t sell products or services, my usage of the term “buyer” extends to encompass the target demographic of any entity. A politician’s buyer personas encompass voters, supporters, and contributors. Universities’ buyer personas encompass prospective students who may apply, their financially responsible parents, and potential alumni donors. A golf club’s buyer personas consist of prospective members. Nonprofits’ buyer personas encompass both corporate and individual donors. Feel free to substitute your preferred terminology for potential customers while maintaining focus on this fundamental and influential concept.

By diligently examining the market challenges that your products and services resolve for the members of your buyer personas, you acquire the insights necessary for swiftly developing resonant products or services.

Furthermore, once your product is prepared for distribution, a comprehensive comprehension of buyer personas revolutionizes your marketing approach, transcending the realm of self-centered product jargon (that solely you and your colleagues within the organization comprehend) and transitioning into a treasure trove of valuable insights that captivate and inspire individuals. By educating and enlightening people through your organization’s content, you often prompt them to choose to engage in business with you in reciprocation.

The Powe of Buyer Personas in Marketing Strategy at the Co-Operators Group

During a recent presentation, I had the pleasure of meeting Paul Mlodzik, Vice President of Marketing and Communications at The Co-operators Group Limited, an insurance co-operative based in Canada. It was enlightening to discover how he has successfully integrated buyer personas into their marketing efforts, making The Co-operators a shining example of buyer-centric marketing.

The Co-operators Group encompasses various companies and offers a wide range of insurance and investment products, catering to individuals from diverse backgrounds and spanning both B2C and B2B markets.

The first crucial step they took was identifying distinct buyer personas and conducting in-depth interviews with representatives from each group.

Paul shared, “This process took about five to six months as it required extensive discussions with numerous individuals. Through phone interviews, we aimed to uncover the common characteristics and gather authentic quotes to truly understand their thoughts and the language they used.”

While this personalized research approach demands time and effort, the insights gained are invaluable.

“When we developed the personas, we built a comprehensive vocabulary around each persona, encompassing their opinions and preferences,” Paul explained. “We delved into their technology usage, lifestyle, geographical location, trusted sources of advice, and their interactions with various products and services, not only within our market but also in a broader context.”

Bringing Personas to Life Through Names and Detailed Profiles

To ensure a deep understanding of each persona, Paul and his team assigned names to them and created detailed profiles that serve as the foundation for their marketing strategies. These profiles have been transformed into eye-catching posters displayed throughout the company offices to raise awareness among other team members.

Maria, whose concise persona profile is presented here, exemplifies the level of detail attained through conversations with representative individuals. The team has even developed an interactive persona exhibit that will tour offices across the organization.

Paul emphasized the significance of research-driven work, saying, “Engaging in thorough research instills a tremendous sense of confidence. I appreciate the element of surprise that arises from discovering new insights. As a seasoned marketer, you may think you know everything about buyers, but these surprises provide fresh opportunities and needs to address.”

The confidence derived from research allows Paul and his team to focus solely on the most impactful strategies and tactics, steering them away from generic “list marketing” approaches that often lack clarity on the most effective ways to engage buyers.

“We are now doing fewer things, but with greater intensity,” Paul revealed regarding their post-research marketing approach. “We have realized that by reducing the quantity of activities and enhancing their quality, we achieve more significant results.”

Moreover, this process aids in aligning marketing staff with their respective roles. Paul affirmed, “Through this work, we have been able to repurpose our resources. Instead of simply replacing vacant positions, we have created new roles that address specific areas of focus based on our findings during the persona development process. It has truly transformed our business operations.”

This process is equally applicable to smaller companies. The better you understand your buyers, the more aligned your sales and marketing efforts become, leading to tangible business growth.




Tags: Business Leadership

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