Personas tell their story, but to whom

The core message and URL for the Microsoft Dynamics CRM (customer relationship management) campaign are right on target, but IMHO Microsoft missed a step (or two) when they built the content at EveryoneGetsIt.com.

The site is organized around five videos, one for each of the buyer personas that influences the CRM  decision. Launch the video associated with Lisa and she introduces herself as a “typical marketing manager" and tells you all about her problems. Throughout this dissertation she wiggles and gestures. If the body language isn't bad enough, she complains that she is struggling to justify her “fictional spend” (please, somebody, tell me that I heard this wrong). Then she sums up her whole list of issues by telling us that solving them is “worse than yoga.”

Say what?

I know a lot of smart people at Microsoft who “get it” about personas, and I know that their CRM offering looks just like Outlook, which would get my attention if I were looking for a solution right now. But I’ve seen several thousand marketing managers in the Effective Product Marketing seminar over the last seven years. Fully half are men, and none of them would last a minute in their jobs if they behaved or talked like Lisa. So my first complaint is that the people who built EveryoneGetsIt don’t get it about the marketing manager persona.

Of equal concern is the way this site uses personas. Buyer personas are a tool for use inside the company. Lisa’s persona write-up may include the fact that she finds yoga challenging, but only if that fact will help the site's designers and writers find something compelling to say or show to Lisa. We are asking too much of buyer personas when we expect them to tell their story to the real people they represent. Everyone is unique, and no example can ever match the way any individual thinks or speaks. Even professional impersonators fail to impress the people they imitate.

I absolutely recommend the use of buyer personas as an internal tool for developing web content. If you need detailed guidance on the topic of personas and web content, Bryan and Jeffrey Eisenberg at Future Now “get it” about how to do that. Steve Mulder gets it too – you can read his book “The User is Always Right, a Practical Guide to Creating and Using Personas for the Web”. And I know there are people at Microsoft who know about personas -- maybe one of them will help the people at EveryoneGetsIt to get poor LIsa.

Topics: Buyer Personas, Good Use of Personas, Who Needs This, Writing

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