|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.
Security, data privacy, reliability and regulatory compliance are critical factors when evaluating whether to move business applications from in-house client hosted environments to a cloud platform. In her session at 18th Cloud Expo, Vandana Viswanathan, Associate Director at Cognizant, In this session, will provide an orientation to the five stages required to implement a cloud hosted solution validation strategy.
Jul. 26, 2016 08:15 AM EDT Reads: 942
"Avere Systems is a hybrid cloud solution provider. We have customers that want to use cloud storage and we have customers that want to take advantage of cloud compute," explained Rebecca Thompson, VP of Marketing at Avere Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Jul. 26, 2016 07:45 AM EDT Reads: 2,019
"We formed Formation several years ago to really address the need for bring complete modernization and software-defined storage to the more classic private cloud marketplace," stated Mark Lewis, Chairman and CEO of Formation Data Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Jul. 26, 2016 07:30 AM EDT Reads: 1,568
There will be new vendors providing applications, middleware, and connected devices to support the thriving IoT ecosystem. This essentially means that electronic device manufacturers will also be in the software business. Many will be new to building embedded software or robust software. This creates an increased importance on software quality, particularly within the Industrial Internet of Things where business-critical applications are becoming dependent on products controlled by software. Qua...
Jul. 26, 2016 06:15 AM EDT Reads: 1,416
When it comes to cloud computing, the ability to turn massive amounts of compute cores on and off on demand sounds attractive to IT staff, who need to manage peaks and valleys in user activity. With cloud bursting, the majority of the data can stay on premises while tapping into compute from public cloud providers, reducing risk and minimizing need to move large files. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Scott Jeschonek, Director of Product Management at Avere Systems, discussed the IT and busin...
Jul. 26, 2016 06:15 AM EDT Reads: 1,792
As organizations shift towards IT-as-a-service models, the need for managing and protecting data residing across physical, virtual, and now cloud environments grows with it. Commvault can ensure protection, access and E-Discovery of your data – whether in a private cloud, a Service Provider delivered public cloud, or a hybrid cloud environment – across the heterogeneous enterprise. In his general session at 18th Cloud Expo, Randy De Meno, Chief Technologist - Windows Products and Microsoft Part...
Jul. 26, 2016 06:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,887
SYS-CON Events has announced today that Roger Strukhoff has been named conference chair of Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo 2016 Silicon Valley. The 19th Cloud Expo and 6th @ThingsExpo will take place on November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. "The Internet of Things brings trillions of dollars of opportunity to developers and enterprise IT, no matter how you measure it," stated Roger Strukhoff. "More importantly, it leverages the power of devices and the Interne...
Jul. 26, 2016 05:15 AM EDT Reads: 2,083
Large scale deployments present unique planning challenges, system commissioning hurdles between IT and OT and demand careful system hand-off orchestration. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jeff Smith, Senior Director and a founding member of Incenergy, will discuss some of the key tactics to ensure delivery success based on his experience of the last two years deploying Industrial IoT systems across four continents.
Jul. 26, 2016 05:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,529
Most organizations prioritize data security only after their data has already been compromised. Proactive prevention is important, but how can you accomplish that on a small budget? Learn how the cloud, combined with a defense and in-depth approach, creates efficiencies by transferring and assigning risk. Security requires a multi-defense approach, and an in-house team may only be able to cherry pick from the essential components. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Vlad Friedman, CEO/Founder o...
Jul. 26, 2016 04:30 AM EDT Reads: 1,902
"We host and fully manage cloud data services, whether we store, the data, move the data, or run analytics on the data," stated Kamal Shannak, Senior Development Manager, Cloud Data Services, IBM, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Jul. 26, 2016 04:15 AM EDT Reads: 1,241
CenturyLink has announced that application server solutions from GENBAND are now available as part of CenturyLink’s Networx contracts. The General Services Administration (GSA)’s Networx program includes the largest telecommunications contract vehicles ever awarded by the federal government. CenturyLink recently secured an extension through spring 2020 of its offerings available to federal government agencies via GSA’s Networx Universal and Enterprise contracts. GENBAND’s EXPERiUS™ Application...
Jul. 26, 2016 03:45 AM EDT Reads: 1,836
With the proliferation of both SQL and NoSQL databases, organizations can now target specific fit-for-purpose database tools for their different application needs regarding scalability, ease of use, ACID support, etc. Platform as a Service offerings make this even easier now, enabling developers to roll out their own database infrastructure in minutes with minimal management overhead. However, this same amount of flexibility also comes with the challenges of picking the right tool, on the right ...
Jul. 26, 2016 03:30 AM EDT Reads: 1,074
"We view the cloud not really as a specific technology but as a way of doing business and that way of doing business is transforming the way software, infrastructure and services are being delivered to business," explained Matthew Rosen, CEO and Director at Fusion, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
Jul. 26, 2016 02:45 AM EDT Reads: 1,543
The Internet of Things will challenge the status quo of how IT and development organizations operate. Or will it? Certainly the fog layer of IoT requires special insights about data ontology, security and transactional integrity. But the developmental challenges are the same: People, Process and Platform. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Craig Sproule, CEO of Metavine, demonstrated how to move beyond today's coding paradigm and shared the must-have mindsets for removing complexity from the develo...
Jul. 26, 2016 02:00 AM EDT Reads: 1,351
SYS-CON Events announced today that MangoApps will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. MangoApps provides modern company intranets and team collaboration software, allowing workers to stay connected and productive from anywhere in the world and from any device.
Jul. 26, 2016 01:45 AM EDT Reads: 1,318