|By Ardath Albee||
|February 1, 2014 05:17 PM EST||
Last week, Steve Rayson wrote a blog post over on Anders Pink, B2B Buyer Personas - A Waste of Time? I'm honored that he wrote about a post I published and shared a few metrics I'd not seen. Steve's blog post is solid and pulls in other research and points to be considered - you should go read it.
But Steve concluded with one point that I'd like to counter. He wrote:
"The challenge for B2B companies is to create content that addresses the questions B2B buyers are asking and helping buyers make better decisions. This is complex with multiple people involved as the buying process progresses. Thus it seems to me that buyer personas are more essential than they ever were. However, single buyer personas are probably ineffective and could well be a waste of time. What is required is a full understanding of the buying process, multiple buyer personas and a clear identification of their requirements at each stage of the process."
[Note: emphasis moved to make my point]
I don't mean to be rude, but I disagree with this kind of thinking. Although that last sentence in his paragraph is right on the money, it's the one I highlighted that has me stirred up. It's the equivalent of thinking "this project is too big (expensive, complex, difficult), so instead, I'll do nothing."
Quitting before you start when you know improving the relevance of your marketing programs will bring rewards is a huge fail. Yes, B2B companies buy with committees. Yes, to do this optimally would require more than one persona.
But a HUGE misconception is that buyer personas are an all-or-nothing proposition.
Sometimes taking an iterative approach to a complex program can be the best way to tackle it. Think about the value you can reap from just one persona. With personas this can be especially valid considering that what's at the end of a persona project is content strategy and development. Sometimes, it's not the persona creation that's the problem, but the execution that goes with each one.
So let's say you can only produce one persona.
First - select the primary persona that sales is clamoring to get into conversation - provided that marketing can influence them. This is important. For example, many salespeople want to speak with CXOs but what we learn is that someone at the director level is doing the research, evaluation and creating the short list for their CXO boss. So take a good look at your choice.
Now let's look at the benefits that one persona can bring:
- Relevance: There's always one persona who is a primary target over the others for each company - one that is better as a way in than the others. If you look at your database, this persona likely makes up a bigger group of contacts than the others. Wouldn't you rather be highly relevant to this major audience than to be serving up good, but not really compelling content, to all of them?
- Your Ideas in the Room: The thing about B2B personas is that they're part of a group - a buying committee. They talk to each other. They eventually need to reach consensus. If the persona you target is influential, then he or she is capable of bringing your company's ideas and expertise into those conversations.
Considering that short lists are created today - often without speaking to the vendor - this is a critical consideration. But to be motivated to do so, your content must be so relevant that your prospect thinks he came up with them. A persona can help you get there.
- Pass-Along Value: During the interviews you conduct for developing your ONE persona, you'll learn a lot of things. Asking the right questions is critical. But, if you know you're only creating one, then make sure to ask about the others involved, who can push back and why. What obstacles did this persona have to overcome to gain consensus?
Armed with this information, you can generate content that will help your prospect answer these questions and respond to pushback introduced by others on the buying committee. He or she will pass along your content to help validate the answers.
These are only three benefits, but they should be good enough to get you to consider why even one persona is better than none.
But consider the learning benefits for your marketing team, as well.
One persona is a test bed for:
- Proving increased relevance will make a quantifiable difference
- The opportunity to tweak and refine and learn what works
- Quick wins that earn the ability to ask for more budget and prove it's a good investment
- Developing a process and workflow for content development
- Developing a persona-driven engagement program for better execution
- Creating one solid story across the entirety of the buying process tha can serve as a template as you add more personas when you're ready.
One of the things I always ask clients at the onset of a persona project is if they have the resources to actually put the personas to work. If they don't, then creating them all now isn't the best choice.
Because personas are never once and done. They need continuous updating and refinement. Three or six months or a year from now they will be different - depending of course on fast fast the market you serve is moving.
If all you can do is create one persona, I say, Get moving! The payoffs will be worth the effort.
If you want to get your feet wet, try the Up Close and Persona app that's featured over to the right. It's a free, simplified process, but it will get you started thinking about what's involved in creating one persona.
SYS-CON Events announced today that robomq.io will exhibit at SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. robomq.io is an interoperable and composable platform that connects any device to any application. It helps systems integrators and the solution providers build new and innovative products and service for industries requiring monitoring or intelligence from devices and sensors.
Mar. 31, 2015 06:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,583
Today, IT is not just a cost center. IT is an enabler and driver of business. With the emergence of the hybrid cloud paradigm, IT now has increasingly more capabilities to create new strategic opportunities for a business. Hybrid cloud allows an organization to utilize multi-tenant public clouds, dedicated private clouds, bare metal hosting, and the associated support and services for the right use cases through an on-demand, XaaS model. This model of IT creates tremendous opportunities for busi...
Mar. 31, 2015 05:00 PM EDT Reads: 3,419
Business as usual for IT is evolving into a “Make or Buy” decision on a service-by-service conversation with input from the LOBs. How does your organization move forward with cloud? In his general session at 16th Cloud Expo, Paul Maravei, Regional Sales Manager, Hybrid Cloud and Managed Services at Cisco, discusses how Cisco and its partners offer a market-leading portfolio and ecosystem of cloud infrastructure and application services that allow you to uniquely and securely combine cloud busi...
Mar. 31, 2015 04:15 PM EDT Reads: 1,579
Internet of Things (IoT) will be a hybrid ecosystem of diverse devices and sensors collaborating with operational and enterprise systems to create the next big application. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Bramh Gupta, founder and CEO of robomq.io, and Fred Yatzeck, principal architect leading product development at robomq.io, will discuss how choosing the right middleware and integration strategy from the get-go will enable IoT solution developers to adapt and grow with the industry, while at...
Mar. 31, 2015 04:00 PM EDT Reads: 556
Businesses are looking to empower employees and departments to do more, go faster, and streamline their processes. For all workers – but mobile workers especially – utilizing the cloud to reconnect documents and improve processes without destructing existing workflows can have a dramatic impact on productivity. In his session at 16th Cloud Expo, Mark Grilli, vice president of Acrobat Solutions marketing at Adobe Systems Incorporated, will outline new ways that the cloud is changing the way peo...
Mar. 31, 2015 04:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,418
One of the hottest areas in cloud right now is DRaaS and related offerings. In his session at 16th Cloud Expo, Dale Levesque, Disaster Recovery Product Manager with Windstream's Cloud and Data Center Marketing team, will discuss the benefits of the cloud model, which far outweigh the traditional approach, and how enterprises need to ensure that their needs are properly being met.
Mar. 31, 2015 03:59 PM EDT Reads: 508
With the arrival of the Big Data revolution, a data professional is expected to master a broad spectrum of complex domains including data processing, mathematics, programming languages, machine learning techniques, and business knowledge. While this mastery is undoubtedly important, this narrow focus on tool usage has divorced many from the imagination required to solve real-world problems. As the demand for analysis increases, the data science community must transform from tool experts to "data...
Mar. 31, 2015 03:00 PM EDT Reads: 651
SYS-CON Events announced today that Solgenia will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Solgenia is the global market leader in Cloud Collaboration and Cloud Infrastructure software solutions. Designed to “Bridge the Gap” between Personal and Professional S...
Mar. 31, 2015 03:00 PM EDT Reads: 3,013
WSM International has launched a DevOps services division that offers assessment, consulting and implementation to large enterprises and organizations with complex infrastructures. The concept of DevOps is to blend information technology (IT) software development with operations to optimize the computing infrastructure according to the specific needs of the organization. According to a recent press release from Gartner, "By 2016, DevOps will evolve from a niche strategy employed by large cloud ...
Mar. 31, 2015 03:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,424
SYS-CON Events announced today that QTS Realty Trust, one of the nation’s largest and fastest-growing providers of data center facilities and cloud services and a leader in security and compliance, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. QTS Realty Trust, Inc. (NYSE: QTS) is a leading national provider of data center solutions and fully managed services, and a leader in security and compliance...
Mar. 31, 2015 03:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,371
SYS-CON Events announced today that WSM International (WSM), the world’s leading cloud and server migration services provider, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. WSM is a solutions integrator with a core focus on cloud and server migration, transformation and DevOps services.
Mar. 31, 2015 03:00 PM EDT Reads: 1,404
SYS-CON Events announced today that MangoApps will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY., and the 17th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 3–5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. MangoApps provides private all-in-one social intranets allowing workers to securely collaborate from anywhere in the world and from any device. Social, mobile, and eas...
Mar. 31, 2015 03:00 PM EDT Reads: 3,191
While not quite mainstream yet, WebRTC is starting to gain ground with Carriers, Enterprises and Independent Software Vendors (ISV’s) alike. WebRTC makes it easy for developers to add audio and video communications into their applications by using Web browsers as their platform. But like any market, every customer engagement has unique requirements, as well as constraints. And of course, one size does not fit all. In her session at WebRTC Summit, Dr. Natasha Tamaskar, Vice President, Head of C...
Mar. 31, 2015 02:39 PM EDT Reads: 467
Sematext is a globally distributed organization that builds innovative Cloud and On Premises solutions for performance monitoring, alerting and anomaly detection (SPM), log management and analytics (Logsene), and search analytics (SSA). We also provide Search and Big Data consulting services and offer 24/7 production support for Solr and Elasticsearch.
Mar. 31, 2015 02:15 PM EDT Reads: 1,590
SYS-CON Events announced today that Emcien will exhibit at SYS-CON's 16th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Emcien’s vision is to let anyone use data to know the future. Emcien has built an automated, predictive analysis product that improves the lives of real people. Emcien allows people to automate their data analysis so they can build a better future.
Mar. 31, 2015 02:00 PM EDT Reads: 622