Buyer Personas

Buyer Personas – Introduction and History (Part 1 of 7 Series)

In this 7 part series of blog posts we’ll present an up-to-date overview of the “dos” and “don’ts” of creating and using Personas to grow your business, better understand your existing customers and apply a laser-like focus on finding and satisfying new customers. Find out what your customers really want, and of course that’s different from just asking ‘what they want’ – think about, discover and confirm their unmet needs!

The 7 parts of this blog post series are:

  1. Introduction and History
  2. What is a Buyer Persona?
  3. Who should use Buyer Personas?
  4. How do you create Buyer Personas?
  5. Common Buyer Persona mistakes to avoid
  6. Sample Buyer Persona Interview Guide
  7. Checklist, Template and Webinar for Buyer Personas

The Buyer Persona Webinar is here.

PART 1: How Buyer Personas Will Help Grow Your B2B Business – : BUYER PERSONAS – – INTRODUCTION AND HISTORY

B2B sales are often lost because of simple perception gaps: misunderstood needs, mismatched priorities or failures of communication. If only your salespeople could read their buyers’ minds? The technology isn’t there yet but the next best thing is a Buyer Persona.

“The most expensive market research you can do is to launch a product” – Mike Bull

Successful businesses have always understood their customers’ needs, studied them, monitored changes and continuously adapted their products, services, sales and marketing strategies to suit.

Using ‘Personas’ is simply the latest approach to achieving this same objective, although in a more refined and typically more comprehensive way than previous approaches. As an online search will quickly show, the technique has been in use (and iteratively improved by many practitioners) for about 15 years. However to think of it as similar to previous techniques (such as what used to be called ‘customer profiling’ or ‘customer segmentation’) is a mistake that can lead managers to misunderstandings and therefore wasteful or less than optimal implementations. We’ll highlight the differences and hence the advantages as we proceed through this blog series.

Of course there are usually many  ‘personas’ involved in most customer transactions – the ‘buyer’ may be just one of many (various users and influencers may be some of the others) but the key buying decision maker is the one to start with. Everything you learn in this series of blog posts is likely to be applicable to other personas (for example user personas to enable better design of your products’ user experience (UX)) that you may want to research, create and use in the future but we recommend starting with Buyer Personas.

“Past behaviour is the best predictor of future behaviour” – An old adage

The origin of term ‘Buyer Persona’ has been attributed to Alan Cooper (of the Cooper Interaction Design firm, now called Cooper) as the founding father of personas and their use for the interaction design of digital products. His 1999 book, “The Inmates Are Running the Asylum”, provocatively reviews how user unfriendly products were typically produced by software programmers and engineers and describes the use of personas to design user friendly products instead. In the 15+ years since, many individuals working separately or with Alan have refined and improved the idea – we’d like to recognize people like Tony Zambito (CEO Goal Centric), his colleague Angela Quail, Adele Revella (President of the Buyer Persona Institute), consultancy groups such as Forrester and marketing companies such as HubSpot. We recognize and are indebted to these individuals and organizations and many others not named here for the development, improvement and knowledge they have created and shared.

Like most adopted ideas, Buyer Personas have evolved through successful use. Everything from the definition to how to research and create them to how to use them has changed and will likely continue to be refined over time. However many companies have now proven success with them and there’s a depth of experience on mistakes to avoid too – this white paper outlines best practice today and illustrates it with a recent case study.individuals working separately or with Alan have refined and improved the idea – we’d like to recognize people like Tony Zambito (CEO Goal Centric), his colleague Angela Quail, Adele Revella (President of the Buyer Persona Institute), consultancy groups such as Forrester and marketing companies such as HubSpot. We recognize and are indebted to these individuals and organizations and many others not named here for the development, improvement and knowledge they have created and shared.

See this AUTODESK® CASE STUDY on the creation and use of Buyer Personas (Autodesk® is a leading software supplier for the CAD, CAM, CAE, PLM, PDM and many other markets).

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