HomeBlog Defining the Persona Framework: It’s a Little Bit Like Origami

Defining the Persona Framework: It’s a Little Bit Like Origami

July 17, 2012|Marisa Kopec

Once an organization decides to embark on a deeper journey toward customer-centricity, the first step is defining buyer personas (purchasing decisionmakers cataloged by job roles). But the question becomes: How many personas? Should there be a separate version of each buyer persona to reflect each industry that the organization serves? For example, how does the head of human resources in retail differ from his or her counterparts in banking or manufacturing?

Once an organization decides to embark on a deeper journey toward customer-centricity, the first step is defining buyer personas (purchasing decisionmakers cataloged by job roles). But the question becomes: How many personas? Should there be a separate version of each buyer persona to reflect each industry that the organization serves? For example, how does the head of human resources in retail differ from his or her counterparts in banking or manufacturing?

This question on where you start in the definitional framework is a bit like trying to learn origami, the Japanese art of folding paper into decorative shapes and figures. The matrix of defining personas by role, industry and offering can be hard to fathom at first. However, once you figure out this framework of who and how many, in which industries and for which offerings, you have made the first step toward clarity.

Do you need to create a version of each key buyer persona for each industry? That depends on the offering, which means it depends on the customer need. If the offering is a horizontal solution that crosses industries, then it’s not that important to bifurcate a buyer persona by industry. But, if the offering is specifically engineered for a vertical, defining a buyer persona by industry becomes more necessary. Also, personas don’t need to cover every product or service; focus on defining buyer personas that align to major product launches, big campaigns or the company’s strategic objectives.

For the most part, the buyer persona won’t change dramatically across industries. The big difference will be in the specific industry vernacular and any industry trends or regulations that need to be reflected in conversations with buyers (e.g. via salespeople, campaigns, the Web). The closer you come to capturing those industry nuances with slight revisions to the master persona definition, the better, keeping in mind that the best practice is to keep things simple.

Marisa Kopec

Marisa Kopec is Vice President of Innovation and Product Management at SiriusDecisions. She is member of SiriusDecisions' Executive Leadership Team and also serves as a Research Fellow. Follow Marisa on Twitter @Marisa_Kopec.
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