Does Your Buyer Persona Sound Like A Corporate Talking Machine?


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wind-up-businessmen (1)Targets. Initiatives. Objectives. Analysis. Risks. Operations. Industry. Priorities. KPI. Success. Entry. Barriers. Products. Triggers.  Requirements. Solutions.  Markets.  Criteria.  Process.   Profile.

What do these words have in common?

They are words you are most likely to see in corporate and company documents related to strategies or tactics of a corporation or private company. They are often found in the confusing array of marketing or sales strategy and planning language.   Whereby strategy, planning, objectives and targets somehow get melded into one in the same without any real distinction.

Confusion: Company Profile Vs. Buyer Persona

One mistaken method related to buyer personas has to do with the confusion, which exists between company or customer profiling and buyer personas. Even calling a profile a buyer persona profile amounts to more confusion. Slipping the word, persona, in between buyer and profile does not make it a buyer persona.

Such confusion can lead organizations down the wrong path when it comes to their search for a deeper understanding of customers. Pre-constructing the type of information you seek and the format by which it is presented oftentimes can pre-shape the information before you even start. For instance, you can wind up with an overt emphasis on products, solutions, or requirements in your profiles. But never really tap into the deeper sentiments related to fulfilling goals and making choices.

The Corporate Talking Machine

Without true immersive qualitative buyer research, you can end up with a corporate talking machine representing your buyer persona. A fictional profile is created versus an archetype representative of goal-directed buying behaviors. For example, in one buyer persona review I was engaged in recently, due to a lack of results, I found plenty of “corporatese” language. The language was loaded with reference to product requirements and corporate references to objectives.   In other word, revealing very little about the personalized and human-centered behaviors on why or why not decision choices are made.

Unintended Consequence: A Contradiction

One of the unintended consequences of falling into this trap of corporate jargon-filled profiling is it can take organizations further away from their customers as opposed to closer. Setting in a false belief that the organization knows its customers.   And, there is a contradiction in this dilemma as well.

The contradiction is buyer personas are intended to help us not only understand customers deeply, but to also inform on how to personalize our efforts to help customers fulfill their goals.   Buyer personas amounting to company or corporate profiling does little to help us personalize or to make our marketing human-centered.

There is another contradiction alluded to above. It has to do with a profound mistake made where a profile, incorrectly labeled a buyer persona, is producing the exact opposite of what buyer personas are intended to prevent.  The profiles become very product-centric!  Focusing in on product criteria and product requirements. Which is an indication there is a lack of adequate and properly conducted buyer research.   The research is, in essence, very product-centric as well.

The Right Path

An essential purpose of the qualitative buyer persona research method is to focus in on the contextual buying behaviors of customers.   To understand the situational behaviors and goals, often unarticulated and unstated in corporate plans, which drive decisions and choices. Providing the right type of insights, which help inform marketing innovation.  And, allowing for human-centeredness in an organization’s customer strategy.

Where you begin in your customer research sets you down a path. The important choice for organizations, today, is to choose the right path, which leads you to deeper insights needed to understand what drives the choices being made by customers today in the volatile changing digital age. It may be a harder path to take, whereby the alternate profiling path is flatter with the comfort of product marketing oriented “corporatese”, but the rewards for finishing will be much greater.

Making the right choice prevents you from taking the profiling path ending in a robotic version of a corporate talking machine.

(The following is a creative video parody about “corporatese” produced by high school student, Jeremy Ann Catunao, last September.  It is fun yet straight to the point.  Enjoy.)


Republished with author's permission from original post.

Tony Zambito
Tony is the founder and leading authority in buyer insights for B2B Marketing and Sales. In 2001, Tony founded the concept of "buyer persona" and established the first buyer persona development methodology. This innovation has helped leading companies gain a deeper understanding of their buyers resulting in revenue performance. Tony has empowered Fortune 100 organizations with operationalizing buyer personas to communicate deep buyer insights that tell the story of their buyer. He holds a B.S. in Business and an M.B.A. in Marketing Management.


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