HomeBlog So Many Personas, So Little Time

So Many Personas, So Little Time

September 15, 2016 | By Christina McKeon

  • Organizations that don’t create targeted content based on persona needs end up with ineffective content
  • Persona prioritization is hard, but it’s necessary to ensure that persona content creates impact
  • Following a methodology and using tools to prioritize personas creates a defensible set of choices to align go-to-market efforts

Many portfolio marketers must prioritize on a daily basis what tasks will (or will not) get done. Choice is hard, but in a world of limited resources, choice is required.

Personas – and, more specifically, persona definition – fall directly in the path of that choosing. Many of our clients understand the need to be audience-centric and are making strides toward accomplishing it. What gets in the way of this transition is that many portfolio marketers believe that there are just too many personas to create content for, and that they’ll either end up with some generic, high-level persona or default back to an easier conversation about products that cannot drive impactful content.

One thing that makes choosing priorities hard is that it requires some measured risk – you might make the wrong choice or not the best choice. In any case, choices need to be defensible. The exercise of prioritizing personas drives organizational alignment, improves content relevance and puts the focus on the audience. Although many product marketers intuitively understand these concepts, we work with clients every day who feel the need to support all personas – even if that means that most personas are supported sub-optimally.

The SiriusDecisions Persona Prioritization Tool is a decision support tool designed to help you rank personas relative to one another against a defined set of criteria. More importantly, using the tool effectively requires a series of inputs, as well as alignment, interlock and assessments. All of these components are consistent and methodical, thus taking some of the risk out of making choices about which personas to prioritize.

At this year’s SiriusDecisions Summit, we presented a session on prioritizing personas and offered a multi-step plan to help organizations gather the information they need to make informed, consistent choices about which personas fit best within their product, marketing and sales processes. 

This prioritization approach encompasses the following steps:

  • Frame the opportunity. The larger persona prioritization process begins with framing the problem: What is the universe of segments and personas that the organization’s existing (or future) solutions can address? Make sure to vet that universe with sales and marketing colleagues. 
  • Evaluate the attractiveness of personas. Take an external view, accounting for revenue potential, growth, role in the buying cycle, approval thresholds and necessary industry specificity to reach that persona. This is a straightforward approach, but you cannot stop here.
  • Assess internal capabilities. Does the organization have the necessary systems, knowledge, experience, lists and expertise to engage these personas successfully? These critical questions should be asked of marketing, marketing operations, sales and product functions. Some of this information may be locked away somewhere within the organization, but if it is not shared and scaled, even the most attractive personas may not be reached due to internal constraints.

Prioritized choices need to be defensible, and portfolio marketers can improve their chances of success and alignment when using a consistent approach to make those choices. Make sure to align with product and sales colleagues to take the risk out of choosing.  

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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