I recently wrote a two-part book review on David Meerman Scott's excellent book, The New Rules of Marketing & PR. One of his main themes in this book is the importance of creating "buyer personas" for your target buyers/voters/doners/constituants.

Since completing the book, I have found myself picking it up several times to re-read several sections, but the one that everything seems to connect back to is this idea of buyer personas. I have started thinking of this along the same lines as an FBI profiler who really works hard to get into the head of a criminal (no I am not comparing customers to criminals).

Yesterday Scott wrote a blog article on this concept at How well do you know your buyer personas? One of the things he points out is that creating these profiles/buyer personas helps marketers avoid the error of thinking about customers in a dark room, where ideas that may or may not work are banding about and come to take on an aura of truth.

Alternatively, he uses the example of Kadient, a company that supplies salespeople with support software. Two of the buyer personas Kadient has created are "Anya" and "Luke." They developed Anya and Luke after many interviews with real salespeople that helped them really, really understand their needs and problems.

The first remarkable thing that Kadient did was to actually give their buyer personas names. The second is that they didn't just create a one-size-fits-all buyer persona. Anya and Luke are two very different archetypes representing two very different types of customers. (And by the way, Anya and Luke are only two of their buyer personas, they have several).

As they do their marketing, they keep these seperate personas seperate in their minds. Scott's article even shows a picture of two of Kadient's marketing executives standing side by side with full-sized cardboard photos of Anya and Luke.

Talk about making buyer personas come alive!

What are you doing to distinquish between your various customer types? Are you afflicted with one-size-fits-all-itus? In this day of long tail marketing, it makes no sense to treat the marketplace as one big mass.

COPYRIGHT © 2008, Charles Brown


Hi Charles!

THanks for reading my stuff. Yes, like you, I've found buyer personas to be transformational to my marketing and I'm always on the lookout for companies that do buyer personas right.

Take care, David

12:23 PM

Hi Charles,

You are absolutely right we have many buyer personas. Not only do our sales and marketing teams focus on them but when our development team is working on a new launch or product improvement there is a lot of discussion around "what would Anya want?" and "what would Luke use?".
As you said they truley come alive!

All the best,
Heather K. Margolis
Director of Marketing

9:37 PM

Thank you David and Heather, very insightful comments. When I take on a copywriting project, one of the first things I do is an "I want list."

Since I am starting with the product or service, I simply ask myself "this widget is for someone who wants ____."

I also do an "I don't want" list as well.

But the point is that this process forces me to think of the customers as individual, differentiated people with differing wants and "don't wants."

I love Heather's comment about asking "what would Anya want?" or "what would Luke want?" That just gets to the heart of why buyer personas are so vital.

8:35 AM

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