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Looking for a Persona Easy Button?

October 08, 2015 | By Christina McKeon

  • B-to-b organizations are on their journey toward being more audience-centric
  • One of the first realizations many of them have is that buyer personas are a foundation for success
  • Usually, the next realization is that buyer personas require time and work – a lot

As b-to-b organizations start their journey toward being more audience-centric, one of the first realizations many of them have is that buyer personas are a foundation for success. Usually, the next realization is that buyer personas require time and work – a lot. Clients sometimes look for an “easy button” to push so personas can just be done, and they can get back to doing their jobs.

The reality is that there are no persona easy buttons, and there shouldn’t be. Buyer personas are never truly done in organizations that successfully develop and deploy them. Rather than being viewed as a one-off project, they should become the core of every portfolio marketer’s job and a crucial part of the company culture. In audience-centric organizations, buyer personas are seen as strategic drivers that evolve and force the organization to evolve along with them.

Since buyer personas are the key to audience centricity, it behooves organizations to put time, energy and resources into developing and implementing them. That doesn’t mean you have to hire more people or find the budget for third parties to do personas on your behalf. Many organizations with successful persona programs free up resources by stopping activities that don’t impact the business (e.g. content that doesn’t get used, campaigns that aren’t working, meetings that go nowhere). The use of third parties is minimal for personas, if they’re used at all. Although many agencies and third parties offer persona work, portfolio marketing leaders must think carefully about whether they are willing to outsource that subject matter expertise.

This class of companies understands how critical it is for product, solution, services and industry marketers to lead the organization to audience-centricity. Executives must remove barriers and provide the necessary support to make that happen. Portfolio marketing leaders obtain this level of buy-in by justifying personas early on, and socializing strategies and plans across marketing, sales and product functions. That way, everyone is onboard at the start and there are fewer roadblocks during execution. These leaders also put persona-based goals and objectives in place so their teams are measured and focused on achieving the right results.

If you’re getting pushback from the marketers who own buyer personas, this may indicate that the right skill sets are not in place. Pushback may come in the form of marketers claiming there’s no time or copying and pasting information from the Web into persona templates. Savvy product, solution, services and industry marketers know that their survival and longevity depend on owning buyer knowledge within the organization. They must be the go-to experts – moving heaven and earth to make buyer personas happen.

Clients of the SiriusDecisions Portfolio Marketing advisory service have access to The SiriusDecisions Persona Toolkit. This toolkit includes research, best practices, tools and templates to help build a business case for personas, get a person initiative up and running, implement personas across the organization and extend their value. It can be used to facilitate an audience-based go-to-market approach launch a new offering, course-correct current go-to-market approaches that are product- or company-centric, or create seller personas that help drive sales adoption of new offerings. 

Christina McKeon

Christina McKeon is the Service Director of Portfolio Marketing at SiriusDecisions. She has more than 20 years of experience in product and solution marketing, sales enablement, demand generation and social media. Follow Christina on Twitter at @ChristinaMcKeon.

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