Building Personas: “Soccer Moms”, “Fearful CEOs” and other people who may buy from you

One of the most important things that sets your marketing message apart from the others is “relevance” – if your message is relevant to the recipient, it’ll go a lot more smoothly from the inbox to your prospect’s brain.

If you can understand who the various people are who buy your products or services, you’re much more likely to be able to select (or create) relevant messaging (or “content”) to send to them.

That’s why thinking through “personas” for your customers is the very first project that Eloqua recommends.

This is clearly not the “automation” portion of “marketing automation”, it’s the “marketing” part. You may have heard the tech-related phrase, “garbage in, garbage out”. This is where you need to make certain you are working with good information. This is the foundation for the rest of your efforts.

(In a sense, it’s a shame that marketing “automation” companies need to remind their customers of this).

It’s all about the money, and this is where “marketing” meets “the money”. It’s where you, as a marketer, sit down with your sales and product management teams and understand, who’s buying each product or service that you sell, how they are involved in the purchasing decision, and what their “buying cycle” is.

At a later date, for each of these, you’ll think through their “buying cycle” their particular needs (or “pain points”) at varying points of the buying cycle, and also the type of “content” that you will address to them.

But for now, what’s the point?

Thinking through your customer demographics should be a standard operating procedure for any business, and for some, it is a science. Consumer marketing companies have come up with a number of different personas — some of these, such as “soccer moms”, have become well-known through such marketing processes as political campaigns.

2013-04-02-Consumer-Demographics

If you properly understand who the buyers are, and what they’re buying, you can automate your marketing efforts to them in an effective way. If you don’t get them right, it’s going to be a case of “garbage in, garbage out”.

If you click on the “Persona Development” link on http://growth.eloqua.com/, it’ll take you to the page where Eloqua makes its “persona development” materials available.

(If you aren’t already a member of their Topliners community, you may need to join in order to access this material.)

Link between Marketing and Technology enables greater ROI tracking

Marketers and TechnologyB-to-B Magazine highlighted the growing link between “marketing” and “technology”, and the competitive advantage that the linkage brings, at its kickoff to the Internet Week conference in New York.

Sheryl Pattek, VP-principal analyst at Forrester Research, said that the ability to track marketing ROI through technology is the most important change contributing to the evolution of the marketing profession. Generally speaking:

Marketers and information technology departments are joined at the hip today, with IT leaving behind its singular focus on back-office operations and increasingly enabling customer information and service … “Five years ago we had only a handful of people handling our website,” said Eduardo Conrado, senior VP-marketing and IT at Motorola Solutions. “Today, 18% to 20% of the entire marketing staff is working on technology enablement for marketing, sales and customers.”

That kind of technology includes the means to deal with “a newcomer to the world of IT villains, [as a] Deluge O’Data floods enterprises mercilessly. If directed and channeled for good, however, this surprising life form could transform the enterprise landscape and bring new growth.”

I received the following recommendation yesterday

Yesterday I received the following recommendation from our “Success Manager” at Eloqua — a person whose job it is to help their clients understand this complex system:

“I had the pleasure of working with John as the Marketing Advisor for his account as he took the lead for his company’s use of Eloqua in late 2012. During our bi-weekly meetings, John would come to the table with thoughtful questions and having done thorough research about campaigns and solutions he wanted to implement. He displayed an intense desire to take segmentation and personalization in the company’s marketing to the next level. He understands that this is a critical component to driving revenue from marketing investments. He dove in head first to learn best practices in marketing automation and how they could [be] applied to the unique business model in which he was operating. I would recommend John to bring his now critical skill set of content + strategy + understanding your buyer + technology to any business.”

This recommendation is from my connection Sarah Hums of Eloqua (now Oracle), and may be found at http://www.linkedin.com/in/johnbugay.

“We’re already doing that”

As part of my routine calling of past contacts, I called a bank that I had worked for in the past, and I told them about a predictive modeling software solution that gives community banks a structured way to create and enforce a sales culture within branches

They said, “we’re already doing that.”

But I think maybe not.

Just below, I alluded to “the old days” still being with us. Does anyone remember driving past a bank branch (or even seeing an ad from a bank) and seeing the words “Loan Sale” on a banner? I am embarassed for the folks who’d put those banners out. That’s one step above simply begging a customer for business.

There are various degrees of business intelligence involved with marketing. I’m going to relate several different marketing angles that I receive from three different book stores. See if you can tell the difference:

1. As someone who has purchased or rated [BOOK] by [AUTHOR], you might like to know that [THIS NEW BOOK] will be released on August 15, 2009.  You can pre-order yours at a savings of $8.48 by following the link below.

2. YIPPEE! Bargain books abound at [Bookstore], or

3. John, loyalty has its perks–here’s a $10 coupon just for you!

Another leading “Rewards” program sends me “40% off an item of your choice” coupon. It’s embedded with a “30% off all Dummies(r) Guides” (which I’m NOT currently shopping for), and “Hit DVDs Sale — $4.99 Selected Titles” (which I’m also NOT currently shopping for.)

All three of those aproaches are the type you’ll see in a variety of different marketplaces. But who is the one that’s really going to appeal directly to me as the customer? Clearly, the Amazon.com appeal (#1 above) is the most sophisticated, because it’s actually a part of an individual relationship that they know they have with me, and it’s one that they nurture.

Which do you think is most effective?

Knowing the Future

“The opportunity is to move from sense-and-respond decision-making to a predict-and-act model.” — Ambuj Goyal, General Manager of I.B.M.’s information management business.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/29/technology/companies/29ibm.html

There’s a lot to be said for not proceeding too quickly in an economy like this one. There’s also a lot to be said for knowing the future.

That’s the gist of the message to learn from IBM’s acquisition of SPSS, whose website features “customer intimacy” and “knowing what your customers will do, before they do it.”

In the old days, there was “test marketing.” In fact, today’s Wall Street Journal shows evidence that the “old days” are still with us. Today’s WSJ features a story about Procter and Gamble and a test market of a product they’re calling “Tide Basic” (a scaled-down version of their industry-leading Tide brand of laundry soap.)

P&G of course wants to know the future. They want to know how this product will be received, and so they have manufactured a little bit of it, which is “currently for sale in about 100 stores throughout the South.”

This is the “sense-and-respond” model of business marketing — P&G will measure actual sales of the new product and decide whether to roll it out, based on those sales.

With its acquisition of SPSS, IBM has just bet $1.2 billion that that model of decision-making is going to be too slow for future marketers. In fact, the NY Times article linked above suggests that most of the major software companies are continuing to invest heavily — to the tune of more than $15 billion — in the notion that more companies will rely on the “predict-and-act” scenario in the future:

Major technology companies have made a flurry of such purchases in recent years, grabbing suppliers of software that helps businesses and governments organize and analyze data to make better decisions. The industry segment is broadly known as business intelligence software. In the last couple of years, I.B.M., Oracle, SAP and Microsoft have collectively spent more than $15 billion buying makers of such software.

I think this is so important to understand that I’m planning a series of postings on this topic. Please stay tuned, and feel free to ask any questions that you might have.