Choose words carefully to reach personas

I spend a lot of time trying to convince people that a marketer's primary job is to develop buyer personas and think like the customer. Why is this so hard? Because personas are not included in anyone's job description. Nope, marketing is measured by how much stuff it produces and so that's what it does - developing endless data sheets, demos and presentations that talk about the product. Inevitably this manic activity misses the point -- that marketing is meant to motivate a buying influencer to take the next step in the decision process, and that we can't motivate people we don't know.

My two cents -- tech companies would save a bunch of time and money and be considerably more effective if it were someone's job to think like the customer and build buyer personas. With clarity about each influencer's buying criteria, product management and marketing communications would know which words inspire positive action and which are neutral or even negative.

I found an article in today's Seattle Times about word choices in real estate advertising and thought this might resonate, as most of us have bought or sold a house. Have you ever seen a print ad where the seller described himself as "motivated"? According to research on 20,000 Canadian home listings over 4 years, buyers are not impressed. In fact homes advertised with this word stayed on the market 15 percent longer and sold for 4 percent less than the benchmark. Words that were "superficially positive" such as "clean" or "quiet" had "zero or even a negative correlation with prices." I wonder how our target personas respond to pronouncements about our flexible, robust, interoperable solutions.  Or a perennial favorite, that the company is the market leader.

If you happen to be selling a house, read the Seattle Times article to learn more about words that work, especially if your house is in Canada. One of the frequently overlooked aspects of buyer personas is that people don't hear words the same way throughout the world. A Canadian advertising agency chose the word "brilliant" to describe a tech solution developed by a British company. The company loved it, but the target buyers, Americans, didn't get it at all.

If you're talking to someone you don't know, you are not communicating.

Topics: Advertising, B2B, Buyer Personas, Buying Criteria, Product Marketing Redefined, Public Relations, Writing


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