I want to talk a little bit about sales and marketing personas. A lot of people get confused about where a marketing persona hands off into the sales journey. It’s a very fluid process and sometimes there’s not a strict line between a sales process and a marketing process.

This blog post is part of Your Definitive Guide to Lead Generation blog series and "Your Definitive Guide to Lead Nurturing" blog series. 

Another thing of note to think about when you think about trying to separate those things, is a lot of times consumers have already done about 70-75% (depending on the resource that you look at) of their buyer’s journey before they even engage with the salesperson. So we want to think about, and we’ll get into a case example here a little bit later with Sam and Olive, is what is the real difference between a sales persona and a marketing persona. And usually what that boils down to is that it’s a researcher vs. a decision maker.

So that wraps up a little bit about how we think about personas and why they’re important. Now, the question then becomes: What is the purpose of personas? How are we utilizing them? A little bit more into the buyer’s journey side of things.

An effective persona will allow you to do a couple different things. It will allow you to create the right message, to the right person, at the right time. You really want to be able to understand the nuances and where people are hanging out online. Whether they’re on places like LinkedIn vs. Facebook vs. Twitter vs. wherever they are. All personas depending on the business, whether its business to business or business to consumer, will hang out on different channels online.

You’ll see down here a quick representation of a funnel. This is a pretty standard funnel- part of the buyer’s journey. And you’ll see a couple acronyms down here: A, C, D, and E. E is that little tidbit that I’m going to share with you guys in a moment. But first let’s get to the basics. A, C, D. Awareness, Consideration, Decision. These are the different stages that a persona works their way through, during the buyer’s journey, until hopefully they come to the Decision Stage, in which they make a decision in order to purchase or not to purchase. This E is interesting because to me these are some of the most important people to target as part of your marketing process. And that’s the evangelist. The people who maybe have a network of their own, have synergistic contacts in the same industry that might allow you to reach out to them and leverage their network. Evangelists are kind of the “golden goose” here. And we really want to target them, not only target them, but empower them to then be able to tap into their own networks, and hopefully drive more people through the top of the funnel. So it cyclically goes back to the top.

Now we see this little sick person and the reason I like to have a little sick person is I like to use an example for Awareness, Consideration, Decision, based upon that sick individual. So thinking about the awareness. I’m sick. In the Awareness Stage, I know that my stomach hurts, maybe I have an achy body, I have chills, I have a headache. I’m not 100% certain what’s wrong with me yet. But I do have an awareness that I have a challenge that something is wrong with me. As I move into the Consideration Stage, basically I said, “Oh, I probably have the flu.” I, at some point, had some sort of educational journey that I go through to really understand, “OK, I’m now in the Consideration Stage because I understand what my challenge is and what ails me.”

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As I move into the Consideration Stage there’s a couple different decisions that I have to encounter. Do I go to urgent care? Do I go to the hospital? Do I go to WebMD? These are some of the questions that I have as I go through the Consideration Stage, in order to hopefully move myself into the Decision Stage. So as I consider these different options, and I’m aware of all these options, I finally move into this Decision Stage. Which is all about speak and choosing a specific institution. In the context of sickness, it may be along the lines of do I go to Scripps? Or do I go to a hospital like Kaiser. Those are some of the decisions that I might have to make, and then working my way through, if I convert, and I am happy with the service, then I become an evangelist.

Looking at the different channels, depending on the person, depending on the industry, depending on what we’re selling, you might have to speak to people in different ways. The classic example is Facebook vs. LinkedIn. Facebook is something that everybody and their mother is on. A lot of times your grandmother is the most active person on your social feed. LinkedIn is a lot more [oriented towards] the colleagues, the coworkers, people who maybe are a little bit more educated within your process and understand your space a little bit differently. So if you’re targeting a prospect, and depending on what your selling on Facebook vs. LinkedIn you might want to speak to them in different terms.

As a quick example of that, we used to develop a lot of websites around here. If I start talking about things along the lines of CMS (content management systems), sitemaps, wireframes, etc. And I start speaking that way to the client initially, they might have no idea what I’m selling or what I’m even talking about. Just be careful, it’s a word to the wise, be careful about acronyms, be careful about using some of these more technical pieces of language, because at the end of the day you could be alienating them more than anything else.

Moving to the bottom corner I know we’ve all heard this phrase before. But, “content is king.” I think that holds true still to this very day. A lot of people talk about “content overload” or “content cliff.” The more you can produce that unique relevant content, the more you can compete in the space. As we apply personas, as we really understand them: How do we leverage them?   We use them to create content. Not only in things like email, social media, blog posts, and even in part of your daily sales conversations. These are all things that stem from your initial persona research.

Now I challenge you guys to think about a time in which you not only went through a buyer’s journey or a buyer’s process, but you were actually excited to do so. I think they are few and far in between, but that’s really the goal. We want to delight those individuals as they go through this process, and make it as efficient and as easy to understand as possible.

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