Buying Personas – Something Old, Something New

Jay Baer’s  Youtility is a fun read. He says that “smart marketing is about help not hype.” It’s a bit shocking that this statement still has the power to shock.


Buying personas then and and now

Baer points out that organizations are 60% of the way through the sales process before they call a sales rep. The stat was generated by the Marketing Leadership Council (MLC). It surveyed 1,900 organizations, private sector and government, enterprise and medium size and manufacturing, tech and finance.

MLC also “discovered” four distinct buying cultures: the Innovator, the ROI guy, the Relationship-er and the Risk Avoider. Those four buying cultures reminded me of Geoffrey Moore’s Innovators, Early Adopters, Early Majority and Late Majority.

I’m having to hypothesize because MLC hides its details behind a paywall. A bit ironic given that Baer’s message is “customers prefer to self-educate themselves — you win by making it easier for them.”

I’ve mapped Moore’s segment personnas into a 2 x 2 matrix to show what I mean.

The dominant feature of Moore’s Late Majority is that they’re skeptics. They need ALL the boxes ticked. Change is danger so they delay change as long as possible. Do these people sound like Risk Avoiders?

Moore’s Early Majority need to be comfortable that others in the community are making the move. Does it seem that these peoples’ defining characteristic is Relationship?

Moore’s Early Adopters are all about benchmarks and tangible improvements that are measured. Sounds like MLC’s ROI Guy to me.

Moore’s Innovators are all about speeds and feeds, ease of use, design elegance, and unique functions. This has been the standard candle for innovators for 20 years. It seems likely MLC is thinking along these lines for its Innovators.

In my experience multiples of these personnas are in play at the same time. You seldom get just one. Watch several of the customer testimonials on the OPower web site. Every spokesperson touches on at least two of the themes, often three, and sometimes all four.

This deeper emotional underpinning, what they’re feeling, is what will really hit home when you capture it in your marcom. Customers’ words are the key. Their testimony in their own voices is far more powerful than your best paraphrase. The maximum power is in the body language, intonation, repetition and other non-verbal cues. A good writer can capture this essence in words alone. If you can get video, so much the better.


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