Fact: Someone in your organization does not know who your customers are, but they play a key part in how that customer interacts with your business. I have worked on so many projects in my career where the “who” was never asked, we just started solving a perceived problem a “customer” was facing. Yes, sometimes this happens on the software team, but the issue roots from a higher link in the chain. As our organizations become more agile, marketing teams should start owning the responsibility of defining who our target personas are. However, they should not attempt this on their own, instead each department that interacts with the customer should be involved.
Who are your customers?
Have you ever sat down before developing a new blog post, sales brochure, or advertisement and really asked yourself "who is our customer?" Not who are we targeting, because that can get mistranslated quickly, but as an organization, "who is our customer?" Also, not just what title they hold, but what are the problems the persona has, the goals they are trying to achieve, and ways we can help as an organization. Don’t worry if you haven’t, you’re not alone. The more we understand about our customers, the more value we can provide. To provide value, we have to develop assets for those customers. Here are some examples:
- Marketing can provide content that help solve problems our customers face every day based on the different interaction points they have with our company
- Sales can create assets that help ensure the prospect or customer understands how a solution solves their particular problems instead of providing the same static information about what we do.
- Software Development can understand the goals the users of their systems have before a single line of code is written and in turn, build solutions that met these specific goals.
- User Experience Designers that know who is interacting with the products or services can design amazing experiences to make these customers happy and ready for more.
- Executives can ensure that a pivot in the business or new offering fits the goals and objectives of the business and their existing set of customers.
The Organizational Bridge
Each group mentioned above has a key role to play in the customer’s experience with our organizations and personas can bridge the gap that separates us from working together. Even though this is not only a marketing problem, it makes sense that the folks who make people aware of our organization’s products or services would be the gate keepers of this information. If marketing owns this information, it is also their responsibility to listen, truly listen, to the feedback of all other departments to make sure we have the definitive personas identified. Once they are developed, it will be the marketing department’s role to share it with the others to ensure everyone understands who they are.
Getting Started This Week
I propose each marketing professional reading this article completes two tasks this week. The first task, identify three target personas for your organization. Write down at least 4 statements that help define who they are. Then write down 4 goals they want to achieve based on those statements and 4 problems they face. Give each one a name, location, age group, or any other key distinguishing characteristics that cause you to group candidates into this persona. Pictures can also make your personas have a more human feel so find a photo of someone you think best represents your persona.
The second task of the week is to review your upcoming work with an eye towards these personas. Here are some questions you might ask yourself:
- Does it make sense to continue to produce the content with these personas in mind?
- Is this content going to be valuable for any of these personas?
- How can you demonstrate that the asset contains value?
- In what stage of interaction with your business will your persona best be in for this content? Each organization is different, but the stages might look like prospect, first-time customer, repeat customer, and influencer.
- Will the content promote this persona to share with other individuals who meet the criteria of our personas?
Starting here will help you think more about how your organization can produce better assets and deliver value to your customers. You will ask the right questions and be ready to start down another path of more agile thinking.