Beware: You Are Likely Using Personas Incorrectly

Posted by Ellen Quackenbush on Oct 11, 2018 8:05:00 AM
Ellen Quackenbush
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Personas are a great tool for the right situation but are often over-used by marketing to communicate with customers and generate leads.  Personas define how a person in a specific rolelet’s say the General Manager of a Business or the VP of Sales—thinks about their key challenges, KPIs, or opportunities to drive business improvement.

Let’s consider how each of these GMs categorize the challenges they face in staffing.  In today’s tight labor market, retailers are worried about providing staffing to meet the demands of seasonal peaks. In contrast, the financial services firms are struggling to attract data scientists to compete with the emerging fin tech challenge. While each person has the same role, they have very different needs. Smart sellers and marketers recognize this and use personas sparingly.

A better approach might be use cases: an aid to outside-in thinking and understanding why customers do business with you. Customers don’t buy your products or services, they buy the business improvement they get from using your solutions.

Use cases describe the critical operational step(s) each persona “owns” to ensure their company makes money. Use cases also describe the “why” behind customers' choosing your solution, over the other alternatives, to meet a business challenge. At Holden Advisors, we employ use cases to enable our clients to focus on what really matters to their customer base, increasing profitable share of wallet with existing customers and adding new ones.

Both personas and use cases have their roles in marketing and sales activities:

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Personas open the door, drive awareness and communicate common customer perceptions within your organization.

Use cases engage the customer at a deeper level, enabling compelling value conversations based on account-level value propositions.

In my next blog, I will explain how Holden Advisors uses Customer Activity Maps, an integrated view of a customer’s business, as a value opportunity roadmap for our clients.

Topics: Negotiating with Backbone