Focus Your Content With Personas

Children mannequinsBuyer Personas are used extensively by marketers and product managers to test and focus their product designs and customer communications. A persona is essentially an archetypal character who could become your fan or customer. More than just a demographic profile of your target audience, a persona is detailed and personalized, usually based on interviews with real customers.

Product managers use personas to prioritize their features and design their user interfaces. Marketers tailor communications and web pages to specific, segmented personas. Personas can help you understand who your audience is, what their needs are, and how, when and where to reach them. Copywriter Karen Goldfarb compares personas to mannequins for your product. Read more of her excellent tips on creating personas here.

Sounds kind of silly. Why should I bother?

This may seem contrived, particularly for musicians. Either people like your music or they don’t, right? Well, there are several benefits to this practice:

  • You will learn a lot about your followers from the interview process. Creating personas will inspire you to dig deeper and get to know your customers and fans.
  • Personas get you thinking about the real value of your product and the needs it meets.
  • Even for a niche business there will be distinct types of people you are serving, who speak and live differently, hang out in different places, and get their information from different sources. Each group may use your products differently, in ways you may not even be aware of.
  • You may ‘discover’ new product ideas as you get to know your customers and their needs.
  • Artists have a potentially vast, international audience. Helping potential fans find you is an enormous challenge. Personas give you an idea where to look, and help you target your communications.
  • For a small service business or product developer, personas can deepen your relationship with existing customers, strengthen your customer care programs, and humanize your sales strategies.

Have you used personas in your business? What’s working for you?

Photo courtesy of Brandon Fick

Book Review: The Network is Your Customer – 5 Strategies to Thrive in a Digital Age

Book Review: The Network is Your Customer – 5 Strategies to Thrive in a Digital Age by David L. Rogers (@David_Rogers )

When I first picked up this book by David Rogers, (a professor at Columbia Business School), I thought it was yet another introduction to social communication technologies for wary corporate managers. Boy, was I wrong!

What’s different…

  • Rather than organizing the book around the use of specific social communication tools or an examination of the general theory of disruptive social technologies, Rogers builds his book around the behaviors and needs of customer networks. The title is quite apt.
  • The writing is accessible and the book is very well organized and designed to be practical. The first two chapters explain the dynamics of customer networks and social communication technologies. Each of the 5 behaviors he identifies are examined in their own chapters and multiple strategies are presented. Next, Rogers dedicates a chapter to a specific planning and implementation process that will help businesses apply these ideas to their specific situations. He then asks the questions, “What will the organization of the future look like?”and “How do we create an organization that is not just customer-focused, but customer-network focused?” Finally, he systematically reviews each of the strategies in the book, by asking a series of questions in a ‘Self-Assessment Quiz’. Inquiry is a powerful technique for self-reflection, personalizing the ideas presented here.
  • There are well over 100 case studies spread throughout the book. Companies are listed in an Appendix, sorted by industry. Each case study specifically illustrates the strategy Rogers is describing. This is an effective approach that makes it very easy to ‘try on’ techniques with your organization. As I was reading the book I found myself taking these case studies and translating them for my clients.

The Big Idea

Rogers suggests 5 Strategies that any business can use to create new value by harnessing the power of customer networks:

  1. ACCESS – be faster, easier, everywhere, and always on
  2. ENGAGE – become a trusted source of great content
  3. CUSTOMIZE – make everything you offer adaptable to your customer’s needs
  4. CONNECT – become part of your customer’s conversations
  5. COLLABORATE – involve your customers at every stage of your enterprise.

There is a lot here; much more than an explanation of disruptive technology. Rogers provides a road map, demonstrating techniques that will tap the power of customer networks, regardless of your industry or the size of your company. Recommended!