In Part 1 of this article, Buyer Persona 2.0, the importance of Buyer Insight was presented as one of the key tenets of Buyer Persona 2.0. This portion of the series on the next generation of buyer personas will focus on one of the truths of the global economy we live in – the interrelationships between buyers, their end customers, and their suppliers is wired like never before. Since 2001, when Angela Quail and I became the first tandem ever to craft buyer personas as opposed to user personas, we realized that we were not going to be of much help to Fortune 100-500 organizations if we didn’t tackle this prevalent issue.
The second key tenet of Buyer Persona 2.0 is acknowledging that buyers do not exist on an island to themselves; that they interact with others internally and externally to make buying decisions:
Excelling in a buyer-centric world calls us to achieve a unique and deep understanding of the buyer ecosystem in which the buyer revolves his or her world around. If, in a simple manner of speaking, we are to help buyers to achieve their goals and to succeed, it is prudent that we understand the interdependencies in which they rely on. Every day, buyers attempt to achieve their specific goals through interaction with others. Suppliers support buyer goals and their efforts to serve their end customers. In our experiences thus far, we’ve come across some profound insight as we painted this view for clients.
Let’s face it, when organizations “target” a buyer, they often can put a buyer in a box. That box contains their self-referential view of how their product is going to help the buyer do their job better or receive those touted benefits that appear on glossy marketing literature. They can become oblivious to the ecosystem that exists outside this box and how a buyer functions to achieve goals. Let’s look at an illustration from an actual engagement we were involved in a few years ago:
Our client provided the medical community with testing materials and equipment. Much of their selling and marketing messaging efforts were “targeted” at the doctors who use the tests to make the proper diagnosis as well as to prescribe the necessary recuperative therapy. What our buyer insight interviewing and crafting of buyer personas uncovered was that third party technicians actually administered the tests in a clinical or hospital environment. Thus, the doctors only saw the results of the tests and oftentimes they were accompanied by recommendations from the technician. This was a change from previous years whereby the doctor both administered and interpreted the tests. Our client redesigned both selling and marketing strategies to account for the relatively new intervention of a technician into the doctor’s world of patient care.
In this specific case, the buyer’s ecosystem went through a transformative change. It now included the use of an additional third party as well as it changed the supplier and buyer relationship. Additionally, it changed the doctor and patient relationship. Previous efforts such as win/loss analyses, sales reports, and even annual conferences failed to reveal this subtle yet important transformation. For well over a quarter of a century, the doctors had been the sole focal point of all sales and marketing strategies and tactics. Technological advances caused the buyer ecosystem to change yet our client had a blurry vision of what had taken place. Simply stated, the inertia of this built-in doctor focus was hard to overcome.
This helps to illustrate how important the first two tenets of Buyer Persona 2.0 are to succeeding in the next generation buyer centric universe. First, this client invested in the third party use of gathering important buyer insight that shed light on why sales were down and how their market had changed. Secondly, by exploring a buyer ecosystem view, the client was able to uncover an important new supplier of services doctors relied on as well as were influenced by. This new supplier also represented a new buyer persona for our client and an important new source of top line revenue growth.
Next: Buyer Persona 2.0 – Part 3