The Digital Marketing Manager a forerunner
agilemarketing, content marketing, social media, Strategy, user experience

The Modern Marketing Manager – A Forerunner

The tasks, skills and abilities required of the modern digital marketing manager, online manager or webmaster are broad. T shaped skills sets are squared off and it is the same for any marketer – on or offline. The influence of technology everywhere means speaking tech and having EQ is the equation for success.

We are required not only to have a technical understanding, but also the skills to wrangle: tech upgrades, shiny new social networks, integrations, content, user experiences and the teams or relationships involved in creating them.

That said, the most powerful approach/skill/technique that a Website Marketing Manager can take is that of being a forerunner for: his leaders, his team and his customers.

They’re the forerunner and Product Owner for their tools – the website, social media and online channels

As the forerunner for an organisation’s online presence the Website Marketing Manager champions best practice. By ensuring the overall consistency of look and feel, that image selection and copy reflects the tone of voice and brand guidelines of the organisation the manager creates harmony. An experience for the user that is consistent throughout the website, across social media platforms and through the various mediums of copy, image, video and interactive.

They understand that a post with an image is more credible, they understand heuristics like scarcity, anchoring and abundance, but most of all they craft a better online experience.

A forerunner respects rules and regulations, but also appreciates that a new audience or network will respond better to content designed for them. Ancient forerunners learnt the languages, dialects, customs and body language that appeased their new audiences, carving a path for their leader.  They master the technology and tool available but also know how to hammer in a nail with a variety of tools and quickly repurpose.

The forerunner not only tailors but they develop and implement an overall content strategy into which they meld the requirements of various stakeholders. All whilst addressing the needs of their buyer personas (the target audiences of their organisation).

They’re the forerunner for customers online

First and foremost the forerunner is customer centric.

The forerunner rolls up their sleeves for the customer ensuring they find resolution for their pain points with products and services, or information and content, should their needs be met elsewhere. They ensure the experience is as painless as possible.

They understand the various customer journeys that buyer personas take, they optimise sales funnels on the site to maximise conversion rates and they do so to ultimately please the customer.

They’re the forerunner for their team

A forerunner likes to roll up their sleeves. In posting content, status updates and A/B testing the forerunner keeps tabs on the user experience for internal customers too. Those that have to deal with cumbersome workflows, ageing tools or inefficient processes. The manager spots things like:

  • folksonomy editing
  • the pairing, deleting or formatting of tags
  • category management
  • approval bottlenecks
  • duplication
  • batching synergies
  • and workflow inefficiencies.

They keep a backlog of process and system improvement to implement that will streamline publication processes and minimise risk.

The forerunner creates a scaffold for his team to work autonomously towards well communicated joint goals.

They’re the forerunner for their leaders and peers

Forerunners are ahead explaining complex scenarios in a dialect the audience can understand and they manage stakeholders needs. Be that senior management, HR with careers branding, or legal with compliance. They communicate efficiently with each.

Like a good auctioneer the website forerunner has his eye across the digital room remembering all parties, their bids and their interests. With an eye on all facets of technical and content needs, prioritised backlogs are built of:

  • technical improvements
  • content features
  • content types, their audience, trends and seasonality

The forerunner has contacts in all camps and bridges sales, marketing and IT to meld the an optimum website within technical and budgetary restraints.

They’re the forerunner for the future

Through constant research – the forerunner has a backlog of potential new ideas for the site, social media and all digital touchpoints. The forerunner is a connector not only of people but also ideas through loose ties. Leveraging industry but also global and hyper local trends as they fit with the goals of the company, the forerunner proactively shares ideas to guide their leader.

As the champion of his website the forerunner isn’t afraid to challenges roadblocks and those deviating from what is currently considered best practice. He has the brand standards, site standards, usability and overall site design at the forefront of any decision.

They’re Agile

The forerunner has become an expert at iterative decisions. Taking big decisions and testing them with MVPs. Trialing on a low risk asset or A/B testing to integrate new features or content.

Constantly improving. Continuous beta.

 


This post is prompted by a recent Tim Ferriss podcast on the canvas strategy and a quote: “The person who clears the path ultimately controls its direction, just as the canvas shapes the painting.” – Ryan Holiday.

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agilemarketing, content marketing, social media, Strategy, user experience

Who’s your target market?

When defining who our product or service is for – there are many tools and mechanisms at our disposal. A buyer persona or picture of the median or average customer you hope to reach is often one of the first steps.

Creating a ‘buyer persona’ can involve data mining, client interviews and many internal refinement sessions.

Adding psychographic segmentation can provide valuable profiling and meat to your persona. It can give you leads to their lifestyle, their habits and how they will react to your messages and brand.

Leverage your social media analytics for demographic targeting and Sociographics

Through a quick review of your Facebook fans you can establish the most dominant basic demographics for your brand. For example your median customer may be male between the age of 18 and 25 and living in London.

Examining your Facebook page analytics you can quickly confirm this through the Audience Insights area. You need a reasonable sample size to gain accuracy. Yet even a fan base of 1000 likes on Facebook can prove useful. Providing they are genuine fans and you have not been “like gating”  or buying fans.

With Audience Insights, you’ll be able to see demographic information about your target audience. Things like:

  • Demographic trends about age and gender, relationship status, and job roles.
  • Lifestyle and interest information about your target audience.
  • Purchase information about your target audience. Including which categories they’re most likely to buy in and location data that may help you identify where to run special promotions or host events.

As you can see, this could not only validate our median man is 18 to 25 and from London, but could possibly refine to neighbourhoods, typical purchase categories and what their lifestyle is like.

Examine how your target demographic may behave through psychographics

We can take this data a step further with psychographic segmentation to get a feel for how they may act or react to our messaging, engagement and marketing.

You may be aware of Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs

maslow

Advertising company Young and Rubicam took this pyramid and extrapolated it. Their research created seven psychographic profiles using Cross Cultural Consumer Characterisation (‘4Cs’ for short). They then mapped the US population to these profiles. You can find out your Psychograpic tendencies by completing their survey.

Psychographics can help us with an understanding of our buyer persona’s:

  • activity, interest, opinion (AIOs)
  • attitudes
  • values
  • and behaviors.

Here are the seven definitions. Young and Rubicam also provided rough percentage figures for the people that below to each profile in the USA. (These numbers also translate roughly to any marketplace.)

Belongers – 40% of the population:

If we were to stereotype Belongers they’re people that live in the average town in the midwest of the USA. They love community, loves being with family and friends. They have an innate need to belong to a group, be that a church, sports group or fan club. These people frequently drive local made vehicles – trucks, sedans and station wagons. They are very nationalistic, and don’t like change. Their best time is spent with their friends, talking, having fun, hanging out. They are hard working, and are extremely conservative in their views, and most likely religious. Their typical Saturday is driving their locally made people mover to church, football practice and then home to watch the game. Think trailergaters at NASCAR or Manchester United fanatics.

image-1-1_ted_van_pelt-e1425383970181

Image:Ted van Pelt

What resonates?

Make sure your messaging is family or community oriented. Emphasize  if your product or service is made LOCALLY and is the same as things have always been. Words like trusted,  reliable and made right here resonate. They believe good thing take time – even marketing and are willing to build a personal relationship with a brand. They all by Levis because they trust it and always have.  Belongers are brand loyal, get them to buy once and they tend to stay with you.

What alienates?

Belongers hate anything new, foreign and game changing. Worse still if it fragments them from their community. One-on-one Bikram hot Yoga training would be their worst nightmare.

Achiever – 5 to 7% of the population:

Achievers are the business elite. The one percenters. Constant growth focus and need for power and status are key. They work 100 hour weeks. they wear own and drive the best. Think top hedge fund managers, bankers, Fortune 500 CXOs and the elite entrepreneurs.

The opposite to belongers – Achievers will go so far as to customise their elite vehicles, just to make sure it set them apart. They buy top of the line Rolls Royce, Maybach or Bugatti and will then spend the price of an average car in upgrading and personalising.

They don’t shop – they bring the tailor in. Where the masses enter – they exit.

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image: Axlon23

What resonates?

You need an elevator pitch – don’t waste their time. Make it personal, innovative and elite. Talk about power, money, and profit.

What alienates?

Slow, stumbling presentations about old, common, conservative, non-innovative products. Talk about how your product will homogenize  them and make them part of a community – one of the masses.

Emulator / Wanna be – 15% of the population:

These guys are achiever groupies. Everything they do is to try and look like an achiever. Thier Subconscious war cry is “fake it till you make it”.  Yet their motivator is often acceptance amongst peers or from the opposite sex. Not the relentless focus on power and wealth that Achievers have.

They buy BMW 1 series – just to say they have a BMW. Wear fake Rolex or cheaper “luxury” brands. The product that is one step down from what their idol Achiever is wearing.

But its not limited to business people – this group could be emulating top musicians, sports stars or actors too. This group suffers from low self esteem and needs peer approval. They will spend whatever money they have on anything that will make them look like their ideal: “successful”.

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Image: M:93

What resonates?

Anything that can make them look like an achiever, successful and appeal to their peers or the opposite sex.

What alienates?

Telling them they’re fine the way they are, to settle and that this will make them normal.

Socially Conscious Type A – 25% of the population:

Thier main focus is the effect their actions will have on the world. They’re environmentally concerned, they recycle, have solar power and their car will be at the least economical and practical – if not solar. They feel no need to belong, but are conscious for the community as a whole and want to make a difference. Education is paramount and most are highly educated with one or two university degrees. They like to help the homeless and the poor, the socially disadvantaged.

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Image: Windel Oskay

What resonates?

This profile has seen the most growth in recent years. Your product or service must make a difference to either society or the environment. Educated and savvy Socially Concious type A will Google your product or service and do the research. They spot fake environmentalism and social conscience in a second. They will need physical proof and tar industries with the same brush – so you’ll need to be totally transparent to win them over.

What alienates?

Simply show the power and money your organisation makes – ignore Kyoto initiatives and carbon offsetting. Better yet – pollute waters around baby seal colonies.

Socially Conscious Type B – 7% of the population:

All of the Socially Conscious Type A characteristics apply here – but type B believes that there is no hope for humanity as a whole. They have rationalised that they can only change things for s small group. You’ll find them in Ecovillages, communes and on islands.

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Image: Tom Chance

What resonates?

Very little will reach this group as they are recluse and consume very little media or internet.

Anyone who is fighting against “the Man”.

What alienates?

“The Man”

Balanced / Totally integrated 1 to 2% of the population:

A mixture of the Achiever and Socially Conscious types, these few get ahead by thinking about others and the world we live in.  Their subconscious mantra might well be Harry S Trumans quote:

“It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit”.

Their definition of good project may very well list like the successes of Truman.

Yvon Chouinard – CEO of Patagonia is the perfect example of this profile.

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Image: Sam Beebe

What resonates?

Benefitting mankind as a whole and doing it in a way that sustains momentum (a profit to keep building their business ethically).

What alienates?

Much like their Type A counterparts they will spot anything but ultra transparency and fakes with ease and hate it.

Needs driven 15% of the population:

Either on benefits or in and around the minimum wage this group are socially reliant and can’t afford to save money. They spend when they have it and beyond. Their mode is survival. Yet curiously they will buy from the local store in the moment rather than take the bus to a large retailer where they could get it cheaper.

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Image: Shawn Leishman

What resonates?

I think I have just discovered my inner Socially Conscious Type A as I find it hard to justify targeting this group. Those aiming to sell not help this market should use urgency and how your product will make them look rich and be happy now. Use fear. Impulse buying on infomercials and once in a lifetime offers are the key. Reinforce their low self esteem and how your product will change that.

What alienates?

Price. And any type of reminder that they are struggling.

What other brands do your fans follow? This will indicate their psychographic profile.

Leveraging these profiles are a great step to creating buyer personas that resonate further. Of course there will be those who fit within these groups well and many who are a mixture of two or more profiles.

Look at other brands your fans like on Facebook and you will validate your psychographic assumptions.

  • BMW, Armani,  and Mens Fitness – you have got a tribe of Emulators
  • Patagonia, Zopa, Toms Shoes and Tesla – You may well have a tribe of Socially Conscious Type A
  • NASCAR, Budweiser, and ESPN – Sounds like a Belongers tribe.

I challenge you to explore creating content that appeals to one or two of these markets. Test how your product or service would sit with each of the profiles. More and more Generation Y and Z are aligning with Socially Conscious Type A each day so pay particular attention to this crowd.

Get technical and create multiple variants. Do some A/B testing of your landing pages and switch out your imagery and creatives on social media. This might reveal the true nature of your target audience and which half of your marketing is useless.

What change will you be making to your messaging and marketing online with these in mind?

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content marketing, social media, Strategy, user experience

Driveway moments – how podcasts capture listeners in a content-laden world

With so much digital content competing for our attention in multiple social networks how do brands connect with their audience. What is the key?

In this era of disposable content, memes, vines, snaps, whispers, secrets and now ‘YO‘s, many brands are swinging to the polar extreme to keep users attention and to keep them interested. Thankfully there’s light at the end of the tunnel, in fact it’s an illuminated journey.

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White shelters / \ #convergence

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There is a resurgence of long format content and a lot of it is supported by rich media like interactive graphics, videos and podcasts.

With a relatively short bus commute as part of my morning journey I have been consuming a lot of podcasts. Although not as rich as video, the format means I can tune in with a single sense and still go about my morning/evening commute and not feel too guiltily about mobile data charges. It’s a format that thanks to Soundcloud is simple to do with your phone, laptop or iPad.

A number of the podcasts I subscribe to really bring a rich narrative to their existing blog posts and or a closer look at a topic. Often, hearing about something is also a lot easier to digest than reading about it.

The luxury of a podcast is that you can compile segments as and when you get time. You have time to form a holistic narrative and unlike with video you don’t have to worry too much about matching sections, cutting intros and outros etc. There’s no other conflicting posts. Scheduled news, announcements and down time messages don’t interrupt it – you can focus on a singular message, or two.
The art is in creating enough value and keeping users entertained, hopefully creating a driveway moment.

What’s a Driveway Moment?

Hopefully I’ve encouraged you, if only just a little, to think about podcasts and consider them in your digital mix. If not, then maybe this list and their inspiring long standing podcasts will help.

Here are 5 exemplary podcasts that I find really interesting. Their topics challenge and I think improve my digital marketing knowledge, and help me grow. I’m on a journey too.

99percentinvisible.org
I have a lot of time for @romanmars and the crew at 99percent. Their mixture of informative and eclectic topics has me hooked and I get excited when their latest release appears in my soundcloud feed. Covering everything from walled cities to shoe design and the Chrysler vs Empire State building feud.

thewebpsychologist.com
Nathalie Nahai is the Nigella Lawson of the web theory, UX and UI design space. Her sultry voice and the amazing guests she has talking all things digital come psychology are awesome.

cc-chapman.com
C C picks me up and motivates me. He’s all about doing the right work and valuing connections. He’s also the source of my favourite content marketing quote. The miniskirt philosophy for content: Long enough to cover the essentials, but short enough to keep it interesting.

forimmediaterelease.biz
Although a long listen The Hobson & Holtz report is digital from a PR perspective. Two very smart minds from either side of the Atlantic cover the latest developments in the digital and online space. Seeing a UK and USA perspective in one is insightful.

newrainmaker.com
Brian Clark of @copyblogger fame also talks of the Hero’s Journey and explains well why we should not be social sharecropping – building your digital home base on land you don’t own.

I’d love to hear what podcasts you like or your Soundcloud / iTunes address so we can connect!

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Western Architecture Principles
content marketing, ecommerce, social media, Strategy, user experience

Three pillars to a great online presence

Yesterday I visited New Zealand’s first 6 Green Star Office – Geyser, in Auckland.

Geyser is created as 6 separate parts with courtyards to let natural light into each area. It has a thermal chimney façade that heats and cools the building. It does this by circulating fresh air through an outer layer that can open and close in response to the ambient temperature. It has a rainwater collection system and an automated “stacker” car park that make use of the limited space underneath the building. In all an impressive building and in my eyes – it looks wonderful.

The building and its architect think of a wider audience than just tenants, addressing how it fits and improves the lives of the community around it.

What does this have to do with digital and online marketing – or social networks for that matter?

Last night I watched the architect Andrew Patterson talk a little bit more about the project as part of his TEDx presentation. He talked of the origins of Western Architecture Principles and how his buildings embody them.

These principles form a tripod that supports great architecture and I would argue serve well as points for a good online presence.
Western Architecture Principles

Attitude – Utilitas – fit for purpose

Use the right tools for the right job.

  • Customers or clients should immediately see how your website brings them value and meets their needs. Make it all about them.
  • When creating a new website have clear goals around the user experience and what you ultimately want to accomplish. Strip out distractions and ambiguity in user journeys.
  • If you want to blog, install a blogging platform. Don’t hack your content management system (CMS) or retrofit a forum as a workaround. If you want to sell things online implement a fully fledged eCommerce platform or leverage one run by experts in that area.
  • Use a CMS that befits the scale of your website and ensure you support it with adequate hardware. WordPress is fine for blogging but not for running Amazon or eBay. End users are the main focus of a website, but a good architect and web build thinks of longevity and maintenance as well.
  • Know your audience on each social network you use. Covering live events is Twitter’s space and photography looks fantastic on Google plus for example.

Concept – Firmitas – permanency

  • Single page websites or empty websites don’t instil confidence. Show that your website is robust and in for the long haul.
  • Ensure you have depth of content, products and services on your website and a stream of future content ready for the first few months. Content that addresses as many buyer personas and stages of the purchase cycle as possible.
  • If you’re building a community consider renting a crowd or launching in beta. Yelp, before launching in a new country, hire people to rate and recommend local businesses. That way the first real users see value from day one in being part of the community.

Communication – Venustas – as beautiful as the natural world

  • The concept for a building is that it should delight more than the natural world it is taking away. This isn’t a push to Skeuomorph design, rather that your website should be a delight to use.
  • If you can purchase online it should be super simple, far less stressful than standing at a counter waiting.
  • Time spent in your networks should delight more than competing TV channels and offline experiences.
  • Your audience should be excited to see your next alert, push notification or email in their inbox because it’s providing value they don’t get elsewhere. That value may be insights or knowledge to make their lives better but could equally be entertainment.

The combination of these three pillars should always support the end goal of delighting your audiences. Be they clients, employees or the community.

https://plus.google.com/109226595670049034128/posts/arpXnqiAC74

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content marketing, user experience

‘Bad’ UX for the right reasons

This might be a stretched metaphor but today’s extended efforts and long stairwell down to the beach meant relative seclusion as the boys and I paddled. Hafting to work for it made it all the more special.

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Secret beach. New fav. Calm and hard to get to.

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All to often we look for a slick, fast, simple, intuitive user experience on our websites.

The trouble is, for consultative or B2B websites, that you’re looking for qualified leads.

When you’re after a specific client and trying to distinguish yourself from the masses, having a simple user experience to register interest could in fact do you a disfavour. Unqualified leads are frustrating. Incorrectly routed leads cause delays and miss-categorised enquiries can also bog down a company’s success. For many websites, that “contact us” form is the heart and achilles heel all in one.

Still, the distinction should be made between qualifying criteria and a slick user interface. The last few days I’ve been left frustrated by recruitment sites that are not mobile optimised. Further frustration was felt by one popular system that would not let me upload a file with non alpha characters in the name. Nickallencv worked, Nick-Allen-CV did not, but was easy to read.

Nor could I just link to my LinkedIn profile or to my role specific application on Dropbox. Still, as a consequence I quadruple checked the doc before submitting (a good UX filter).

Functionally, a user experience should be as simplistic as possible. But with a little investigation there’s no reason we cannot simplify the qualification of leads.

If you’re working with c suite, high income, any clients, your site needs to be optimised for mobile and tablet use. Period! Once clear of creating a device agnostic experience, how about using what you know?

Implicit personalisation of a website and analytics profiles means that even after a user had browsed just a half dozen pages, you should already have a notion of their intent and profile. If they’ve come from a search engine query, heck, then you’re already half way there!

With B2C this means tailoring “related items” and understanding what they’re after, featuring similar items beside product descriptions etc. It means converting them to transactions and nurturing add-ons or up-sells.

For B2B it means feeding them more relevant content and related services. Then, once convinced, at the point of ‘contacting us’ this means: suggesting the auto-completion of form fields, bundling services they may be interested in and routing the lead accordingly.

As mentioned before, it’s key to UN-optimise your site for the wrong clients. The sweet spot is dropping the wrong leads and nurturing the right ones…

Of course for ecommerce websites the art with a large array of products is to balance explicit filter selections, with implicit recommendations. Apple fans are apple fans so there’s little reason to offer them a Blackberry. But they might be convinced to switch to a Samsung and would definitely like to know about the best cases and most used apps as additional items.

Finding the right balance of visual cues and prompts is the UX experts forte, knowing which user to optimise for and prioritising what upgrade to make first is the strength of a good Product Owner/Digital Strategist.

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blogging, user experience

Website Accessibility Around the Globe

As I log onto our WiFi here in the hotel hopefully for the last time I’m reminded of the infrastructure required for a truly global web presence.

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My new skyline – Auckland

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Although my blog is hosted on WordPress I use a number of peripheral services such as Flickr, Soundcloud, YouTube and Google for hosting rich media. Many of which rely on the Amazon Cloud or their own servers in multiple locations to replicate your content. Serving it to you via the closest server in the fastest method possible. Cloud replication of content also ensures there’s a backup (well now that Amazon have been through the 2012/2013 outages) for your content as well.

Hosting your own site on a dedicated server in a single location limits the ability for users to access it from distant time zones. It also opens you up to the threat of downtime. Host your content management system and backups on servers nearby and you also run into the risk of loosing your site completely.

Another point to consider is rendering multiple file resolutions dependant on the browser, PC, tablet or Internet connection that the user is connecting over. This ensures optimum user experience and also spreads server load over multiple files. Rather than everyone trying to download that huge video all at once, those on mobile can access a lighter version.

Subtle UI notes can also hint to those on a phone to save the page for viewing on a faster connection later. It is also good to note that Google penalises pages that load slower than average. I believe from memory this is around the 3 seconds upwards arena. They measure this from various locations, not just over 4G or UFB in a big city.

Tailoring the experience to mobile and limiting heavy files to PC or desktop viewing lets mobile users get to where they want to be. Rarely do we access video content over our phone due to data caps, so ensure your sites prioritises to mobile paths and usage such as finding addresses, browsing product prices, finding contact numbers and getting to those points quickly.

Even better, if your site uses forms or has e-commerce functionality allow transactions started on mobile to be easily picked up from other devices.

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content marketing, Social CRM, user experience

Getting personal with Buyer Personas

Big data and understanding customer sentiment has been a buzzword for the last few years. Garnering insights and adapting your proposition to suit has been taken to a new levels as we learn to crunch big data sets.

Conversely, running qualitative surveys with clients (enough to be statistically valid) can give valuable, actionable insights.

The trick is conveying these insights in a format that is accessible across the organisation.
Buyer personas are a fantastic tool for combining these qualitative insights, social data, CRM records and basic demographics, into a high level summary.

Having a clear idea of your average customer, you can then move on to the best ways to align your product or service to them.

Typically they will define

  1. Priorities
  2. Success and what it looks like to them
  3. Barriers or things stopping them going with your solution or product
  4. Buying process
  5. Decision criteria.

These personas can then be put to great use when working on marketing user stories and creating solutions to their pain points. They’re fantastic for defining content marketing themes and priorities, allocating expenditure on marketing content and the focus across paid, earned and owned media.

They can also help product owners prioritise backlogs and support their prioritisation – when confronting conflicting interests with internal stakeholders.

In fact, the Buyer Persona Institute (yes it even has it’s own movement) marks – internal preconceptions and guesstimates of what the typical client is – as the biggest hinderance to creating successful buyer personas. Basing the personas on concrete factual input from actual client surveys and interviews is key.

For those daunted by the task of creating these very user centric profiles and negotiating internal stakeholders, remember – we do it every day. I noted on Sunday that we all subconsciously create immensely detailed buyer personas. When we make new friends, go on dates or get to know new colleagues, banking what makes them tick and the best approach to resonate.

Social CRM
Moving beyond the buyer persona, I can’t help but feel that social CRM will allow us to have highly detailed buyer profiles. Not just personas, but detailed dashboards of each buyer or customers interaction with our brand, their sentiment for our industry and peripheral products on social networks and even their purchases, buying habits and triggers.

At a macro level – aggregating these could provide a realtime singular buyer persona or multiple profiles. A daily dashboard to drive strategy and the direction of the company.

At a micro level – the trick will be up-skilling as an organisation to know how best to use this data. Finding the balance with your customers between stalky big brother-ish and delighting interactions and touch points.

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