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In Use And Misuse Of Personas In Marketing, I’d defended personas from being lampooned by some misguided marketers.

That doesn’t mean I believe everything is hunky-dory with personas.

There are at least three problems I see in the way personas are created and used in Persona Based Marketing (PBM) campaigns today.

A. SOLE FOCUS ON WHO

I read the following comment on an article about personas:

‘There’s too much focus on “Who is the buyer?”. Marketers should rather focus on “What does her company want?”’.

This is very true, especially in B2B products and services where purchase decisions are made by committees. Since a committee comprises of people with varying personalities, it tends to place the company’s needs above any individual’s persona. Ergo, persona based marketing has its limitations. That’s the best case scenario. In the worst case scenario, PBM based on simplistic personas of the committee members can actually backfire.

B. PERSONA 1.0 IS STATIC

Traditional personas are too macro, can’t be updated in real time, and suffer from other issues highlighted by Venkat Nagaswamy, Co-founder and CEO at Mariana, in Kiss your personas goodbye (and say hello, AI)!.

We couldn’t agree more. As a result of their unchanging nature, personas widen the already-gaping chasm between sales and marketing.

C. HUMAN PERSONAS ARE PASSÉ!

Personas are currently obsessed with human beings. As a result, they may become irrelevant in the digital world.

—–

While the current generation of personas are still useful in PBM, they face the risk of becoming obsolete in the near future. We need a new generation of personas that address the above maladies.

Good news is tools and technologies are already available to develop the future-proof Persona 2.0.

#1. MARKETABLE ITEMS

According to CEB Marketing, B2B purchase committees comprising of members with varying personalities manifest a so-called “Interpersonal Persona”.

Ignoring group dynamics and continuing to run PBM campaigns on the basis of individual personas can backfire. Therefore, B2B marketers need to replace their simplistic personas with Interpersonal Personas. But this can take time.

In the immediate term, we recommend supplementing PBM with Marketable Items, which package product features and service capabilities into compelling reasons to buy that resonate strongly with the target market’s pain areas and hot topics. As you can see from the examples of Marketable Items we’ve created for several technology product and services companies, a Marketable Item vibes with the buyer company’s needs. This helps marketers overcome the shortcomings caused by PBM’s sole concern with the “who is the buyer” question.

#2. SOCIAL MEDIA & ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

Marketers can use a combination of social media and AI to add online behavior and many other attributes to the current generation of personas, thus making them dynamic and actionable. Such personas will help marketers extract more bang for their PBM buck.

#3. EXPAND TO COVER BOTS

Algorithms are playing an increasing role in the purchase of stocks, media and other products. Robo-advisors are exhibiting human-traits like conflict of interest. Personas can’t remain exclusively focused on human beings.

To stay relevant in today’s digital world, personas must cover bots. By doing that, they will help PBM target algorithms, robo-advisors and other non-human buyers.


Persona 2.0 created by using the aforementioned tools and technologies can overcome the shortcomings of the current generation of personas and take PBM to new heights.

Ketharaman Swaminathan On August - 4 - 2017

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IT Marketing, Uncategorized

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