In a survey of B2B marketers worldwide, persona platform services provider Cintell found that 79% of companies store personas in PDF or printed format.
Cintell cofounder Katie Martell characterizes this practice as counter- productive. “They’re hard-to-find, rarely-used, and out-of-date,” she says. “I call this ‘PDF Purgatory’ and it’s no place for your expensive, well-researched customer insights.”
To be sure, letting the personas languish in this manner is a clear sign these companies — and who knows how many others like them – underestimate the marketing value they potentially hold, especially when leveraged to full advantage.
The lost opportunity costs include: improved internal collaboration, stronger marketing integration, and increased levels of marketing effectiveness and efficiency.
The antidote to incurring these lost opportunity costs — that is, transforming the personas into a highly collaborative and functionally efficient cornerstone of the marketing enterprise — is to make the persona profiles dynamically accessible and intrinsically relevant.
Even if you’re hesitant to invest in a platform specifically designed for this purpose, then something like a wiki will work equally well once it’s been formatted to achieve this end (though it may be more labor intensive than the aforementioned platform).
Consider, for example, how the Wikipedia works. It’s a collaborative, crowdsourcing tool. Content experts input information while others extract it. Also noteworthy is the ease with which it can handle rich media, such as text, images, video, sound files and more.
The concept of intrinsically relevant encompasses two key concerns.
The first is to recognize that personas — or persona profiles — should be regarded as a never ending work in progress that must be kept up-to-date. This is consistent with the purpose of it being dynamically accessible. It also reflects the real world in which personas evolve and change as marketing and sales interact with clients and customers over time — wherein they become increasingly familiar with important details about them.
In fact, we’ve just completed a three parts series titled, The Fluid Nature of Creating Content Marketing Personas, which elaborates on this very idea.
A second concern of intrinsically relevant revolves around the idea of who within marketing and sales can benefit from having access to a rich array of insights about the company’s clients and customers.
Of course, the short answer is everyone.
But for the sake of elaboration, let’s look at a simple B2B example involving demand generation, the sales force and content marketing. We’ll provide four benefits for each – but note: these do not represent an exhaustive list of the actual benefits that can be derived.
- Map and tag contact information to personas, and segment your database to improve targeting and lead generation campaign results
- Measure the performance of marketing campaigns by persona to understand what’s working for a given segment — and what needs to be adjusted
- Leverage personas to understand the appropriate buying committee within target accounts for account based marketing
- Use progressive profiling techniques to help collect and share subsequent insights about each persona
- Make personas available to your sales team (mapped to contacts) to give them critical insights for more relevant conversations
- Help sales executives understand the various members of the buying committee, what they each distinctly care about and how to build consensus to close the deal
- Include personas in your sales training materials to equip them with what they need from day one to have relevant, empathetic conversations and decrease their ramp-up time
- Use personas as sales enablement to unify sales and marketing around one common target, and bridge the gap between these two departments
- Use words, phrases, images and videos from persona research to ensure your content marketing echoes the voice of your customer
- Audit and tag your marketing content by persona to understand where it fits within the buyer journey for your various segments
- Inspire content producers to craft compelling content based on specific priorities as indicated by the persona
- Use buying committee insights to craft your content so that it builds consensus among the group by speaking to distinct, various perspectives
Collaborative and Relevant
Can you see how, even within this brief example, a shared and collaborative repository with ongoing updates and refinements can help each of these areas, whereby each feeds off the insights of the other?
Bear in mind, too, we could have easily added other departments like communications/pr, digital marketing, customer service/support, product marketing and marketing leadership.
The ideal is to establish an internal hub and node knowledge network — whereby each node represents a relevant individual — that promotes a virtuous cycle of continuous improvement in every facet of the marketing endeavor.