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Adele Revella
San Juan Island, Washington
Adele Revella is a speaker, trainer, consultant and thought leader on product and marketing strategies that are guided by deep insight into the way target customers evaluate their buying decisions.
Recent Activity
Thanks so much for linking to my site, David. Your books and presentations have clearly taken the need for buyer personas to the masses. I was happy to see that NBC based their personas on research, but their marketers missed out on the chance to do this work themselves, positioning the marketing team as the source of these strategies, not just project managers. The buyer experts are the people who interview the buyers, not the people who pay for them. I'm also dismayed when companies like NBC publish their findings -- why give their competitors this insight? Orbitz did something similar a few months ago, revealing that Mac users spent more on a hotel night than PC users. That revelation sparked a firestorm of controversy, and handed these valuable insights to other travel services. Crazy. I wrote a blog post about Orbitz that people might find interesting Thanks again David.
Thanks for great tip. I just signed up and will be thinking of you when I'm NOT standing in the street in the rain, waving madly for taxis that won't stop.
Thanks for another great post Ardath. I emphatically agree on all three points. We generally find that the C level or economic buyer triggers the search for a solution and then disappears from the assessment until a more junior person or team has selected a provider. Thus content for the C-level buyer needs to focus on insight into the C-levels' priority initiatives, while the content that persuades buyers about the merits of our approach is for other buyer personas. It all comes down to objectively interviewing recent buyers to see which criteria and people had the most impact on the decision and how they decided.
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Your post made me want to schedule a face lift. :)
Thanks for the great post Ardath, and for all you do to educate marketers about the need to truly listen to their buyers. I love the idea of combining your approach with a specialized kind of win/loss interview, an additional step that rapidly reveals what impacted that buyer's decision. The similarities in responses across deals are amazing ... yes there are differences but the patterns are easy to spot. This supports companies with relevant segmentation (fewer personas) plus messaging and content that targets each persona's specific priorities, success factors, and barriers to purchase. I've always known about our shared interest in buyer personas, but now that I've learned that we've both been married to Italian men for 15+ years, we have got to talk. I'll send a separate note to see if we can find a time.
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Love the diagrams David. A client just asked me for a short presentation on why marketers need buyer personas. Your pictures are worth a thousand words. May I use them (with attribution of course)?
Thanks for the great post Dave. The best part of buyer personas is that everyone benefits . . . GoPro is growing their business, the marketers in that company are absolute heros, but the real beneficiaries are all of those buyers. Just think about all of incredible experiences those surfers, bikers and race car drivers have been able to capture and share because this company was thinking about their buyer personas. It's great to be a part of a solution that benefits everyone involved!
Great story David. You're right on all counts -- this is a fascinating example of understanding and targeting a buyer persona with perfectly pitched marketing. And yes, big companies find this much more difficult to accomplish. You might conclude that this bodes well for all of the entrepreneurs out there. But I wouldn't count the big guys out -- big companies are slower to change, but I'm seeing a lot of progress on buyer personas in companies large and small. My sense is that buyer focus will soon be the exception, not the rule.
Thanks for the great post Bruce. My experience shows that awareness is growing about the need to influence buyers early in the buying process, but most companies lack a clear strategy to achieve this goal. I'm wondering if you're familiar with buyer personas, and more specifically, the part of the buyer persona known as the product-persona connection. These insights are most readily available through post-decision interviews with the company's buyers, focusing on the precise business triggers and selection criteria for a particular product, service or solution. Marketers need to conduct unscripted interviews (not surveys) to find out exactly why the buyer started looking for them, which people inside the company were key influencers at different points in the process, what criteria the buyer used to narrow the field of solutions, and which resources the buyer trusted to inform their decision. Companies seem to know WHAT their buyers decided (we won because we had the best sales relationship, lost to X because our product was too expensive), but not HOW the buyer arrived at that conclusion. The magic strategy can only be developed once the company knows more than its competitors about HOW buyers make decisions. Buyers are surprisingly willing to share these details when we ask them to share their story about their journey.
Inspiring story David. I see so many companies that have some knowledge of their buyer personas, but almost all lack the insights that are needed to define a strategy and convince internal stakeholders to invest in it. Key to this story is that HSBC hired the "dedicated editorial staff" needed develop "valuable free content" and "premium stuff". And they also worked out an agreement with Wall Street Journal. It's clear that someone did their homework before they tried to sell this strategy to management. Good work HSBC.
The problem is the way the 4P's are taught -- too many people conclude that they are a complete way to define the marketing strategy. I can remember when that was true, but it was a long time ago. I'm not going to say that the 4P's are irrelevant -- but we definitely need a different attitude about their place in our planning. So much more is required. We need a completely new framework for marketing strategy that matches the company's goals to the way newly informed buyers navigate their decision process. For me the key question is how to make that framework as pervasive and simple as possible. I'm seeing far too much confusion as consultants and authors jockey to define the terminology. Who cares if we describe the "buyer journey" the "buying process", or the "decision process"? With your following David, maybe you can help the marketing community sort this out.
Great advice David, and yet rarely followed. So I've been leaving my comfortable office to connect with marketers and ask why not. The first two answers are "Sales won't let us" and "I'm too busy". If those were the real problems, they would be easy to overcome, and neither of us would be writing blog posts reminding people about the need. And as you know, I never accept the first answer to any question. I have to get the buyer talking at length about the issue before I can see the real issue. What I've seen is that most marketers don't know how to get buyers to share the information that makes a difference to their marketing strategies. That insight (and others) guided the content of my ebook, The Buyer Persona Manifesto. I know you told your readers about it already, but I thought I'd provide another link here I personally find that it's far easier to discover and leverage real buyer insights than it is to "dream stuff up". When I dream stuff up, I may love the idea, but someone else inevitably challenges my idea, and then we're back to the beginning again. That just wears me out.
Thanks for a terrific example of buyer personas David. I want to underline one point about this site -- what makes it work is the specific and well-targeted persona-based message associated with each navigation option. I'm seeing lots of companies stop short of this step and just put the job title/role on their home page. Their results are not good. Buyer personas click through because they see their issue so clearly identified, and trust that the next step will bring them closer to a solution. Whether you're targeting one persona or four, the key to reaping the rewards of buyer personas is to say something simple and meaningful to them.
Interesting debate. I just read all of the comments and I propose this summary. David (and the people who agree with him) argue that providing value to buyers (free, good content) will generate the most revenue for the company. Mike (and the people who agree with him) argue that providing value to sales people (leads) will generate the most revenue for the company. This makes it easy for me to choose sides. The only time we should require registration is when we have confidence that subsequent sales or marketing contacts to those buyers will generate the most revenue for the company -- even though fewer people decided to download. Measurement and A/B tests would give us empirical data, but most of us lack the resources or time to get that data. So I suggest that marketing needs to think about the buyer persona and their path to making a buying decision. Then the question is not about registration or no registration, leads or no leads, but whether, regardless of that decision, we have done everything necessary to make sure that the next step in the buying process is both positive and persuasive.
Tell me that isn't real snow on the rooftops.
Great post Ardath. I heard a speaker last week who talked about the "burden of communication". His point -- who should bear that burden that burden, the writer or the reader, the speaker or audience. It takes work to develop great content that resonates with buyer personas, but as your post says so clearly, we really don't have any other choice if we want to communicate.
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Adele Revella is now following The Typepad Team
Mar 15, 2010
Thanks to all who have submitted comments (all men?) who say that my persona is an exact match. I'm wondering whether the people who don't see the match (a) aren't reading this post, or (b) choose not to comment or (c) if I just nailed it so perfectly that no one else exists. All comments are welcome. Adele Keep the focus on your buyers -- read the Buyer Persona Blog
SK - The survey asked the participants to rank the importance of specific capabilities. The company was focusing on aspects of their solution that they believed to be most important, but the capability that ranked the highest was added at the last minute - no one within the company had considered it important. Adele Keep the focus on your buyers -- read the Buyer Persona Blog
In this economy, everyone I meet is either concerned about keeping a job or wondering what could be done to earn a promotion. Yet most of these people are engaged in the "normal" marketing effort that you suspect -- the boss told them to send an email campaign to existing customers and they did just that. It's unfortunate that you didn't get any value from this email, but the saddest part of your story is the Sony marketer who missed the chance to make a difference.
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Sorry Penny, it looks like Typepad won't include the links to your blog in my comment.
Thanks for the comment, Penny. And thanks for the mentions on your blogs at and I tried to post a comment on those sites but the blogging tool didn't give me a place to verify the secret "word". I thought you might want to know about the problem. I'm happy you found the Buyer Persona Blog and hope you will let us know about your successes using buyer personas. Adele
Hi April: Thanks for mentioning buyer personas as a foundation for messaging. Internal stakeholders so frequently disagree about which words to use or which capabilities should be emphasized, regardless of the message format. Companies that evaluate the priorities and attitudes of their buyer persona(s) have the best context for the message discussion. They are unavoidably reminded that the only stakeholder who needs to be satisfied with the message is the buyer. Great post, April.
Toggle Commented Mar 20, 2009 on Value Propositions 101 at Rocket Watcher
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Hi April -- Great post and comments too. Here are some ideas for a solution. Marketing needs segments so that we can group buyers based on they way they think about their business problems and buying criteria (capabilities buyers use to evaluate solutions to their problems). If we skip this step, marketing messages, sales tools and programs won't resonate with buyers -- to find anything that all buyers have in common results in "fluffy" or meaningless marketing content. Sales people have a different opportunity -- they can treat every account as a segment of its own. A sales person should know how to listen to the buyer's problems and relate the product to a given account's buying criteria. This is a luxury that marketing people just don't have. I recommend buyer personas to capture the facts that matter to each segment of buyers. This shift's the marketing team's focus away from the product and gets everyone thinking about how they can reach a particular segment of buyers. Speaking to your original post and many of the comments, it is unlikely that a single buyer persona could accurately reflect the needs of all financial services (or health care) buyers. More probably, different buyer personas would be required, minimally, for buyers who evaluation solutions based on its technical, economic, or usability merits.
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