The Weekly Buzz – Stock Characters
What is a persona? If you answered “an essential tool for understanding your customers,” you would be right—but that’s not the whole story. We get the word “persona” from the ancient Romans. It was their term for a mask worn by a stock character in plays. In a large theater, familiar masks made it easy to see what kind of a person each actor was playing, like “grumpy old man” or “soldier.”
How Personal Is the Persona?
Roman “personas” were stock characters, like “grumpy old man,” representing a general type instead of one individual person. Getting the level of generalization right is a major challenge for marketers developing brand personas. For example, salespeople research individual decision-makers on LinkedIn in order to personalize their conversations, but when a marketer researches the same person they have different goals. They want to identify the qualities of that person that could be shared with decision-makers and champions at other organizations. They want to create a stock character based on real people so they can communicate value more effectively to people in similar situations. Sales Hacker has some great tools to get started.
Developing personas is just one type of useful exercise targeted at understanding your customers. In account-based marketing (ABM), personas can include “firmographics,” or corporate data. This is because there is a need not just to communicate well with one decision-maker, but to approach a whole group of interacting decision-makers on the account. Get even more general, and you are talking about an Ideal Customer Profile (ICP). This is when the focus is on organizations for your company to target, rather than on the human faces. All these types of research are useful, they just differ in scope and goals.
Okay, enough serious work for this week. Did you see the viral news item about the local government body in Pakistan that broadcast their meeting with the cat filter turned on in Facebook Live? Adding silly masks may not help local constituents appreciate the hard work their officials are doing, but it certainly gained them worldwide fame. Maybe it’s time for all of us to think about how cat filters can build buzz about our products!
Do you have a favorite technique for building personas and ideal customer profiles? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.