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Content Marketing, Buyer & Customer Journey Planning

Operationalizing your Persona Research | Best Practices and Mistakes to Avoid

Congrats, you’ve made it through the first foundational step of the Revenue Marketing System – deeply understanding your customer(s) through persona research. Now with all this valuable knowledge at your fingertips, the magic truly happens in what you do next. 

Here are 5 best practices to operationalize your persona research and ensure your company reaps its full benefits, and 5 mistakes to avoid. 

Best Practices

  1. Share your personas across the organization. Most commonly, personas are developed by the marketing team – but that shouldn’t mean the insights stay siloed within this department. Plan a persona kick-off to share research across the organization, build a digital persona hub where documentation is easy to access, and include persona overviews in new hire training (not just marketing hires). These initiatives will help make the personas known and easy to access company-wide. 
  2. Teach others how to use them. Take the time to teach people how to use the research to extract the most value. Explaining the research methodology, an overview of the output, and how your organization has institutionalized the research. 
  3. Organize your GTM strategy around personas. Organizations that truly get the most out of research organize their people, processes, and technology around the customer and how they prefer to engage with you. Put personas in the middle of your go-to-market strategy, aligning initiatives to persona’s preferences and actions. 
  4. Align messaging and tactics to the stages of the buyer’s journey. Progress your buyers forward in their buying journey by engaging them at the right time, through the right channel, with the right content. See our blog Building Persona-Centric Engagement Plans for guidance.
  5. Keep your personas fresh. Like all of us, your personas are not static – they are continuously changing and evolving over time. That’s not to say that undergoing extensive research every year is a must – but rather a yearly quick pulse survey to check-in and update any major changes.

Mistakes to Avoid

  1. Not having an executive sponsor/owner. The sponsor does not need to be an executive, but a clear owner of your personas is essential. The owner should ensure that personas are not kept a secret, and they are responsible for ensuring personas are kept fresh and used effectively across the organization.
  2. Changing your personas based on anecdotal and biased perspectives. Hopefully, we can assume that your persona research was developed with extensive first-hand quantitative and qualitative prospect and customer research – if that’s the case, it should remain your source of truth. Although your colleagues’ experience with a customer may differ, remember to put that one story into perspective VS the large sample from your persona research.   
  3. Viewing buyer journey research as a “Marketing thing”. Break this assumption by educating and operationalizing your research cross-functionally. You will never get the full value from your research if it doesn’t leave the Marketing team.
  4. Confusing the “buyer journey” with “how customers use your products”. The buyer’s journey is the process your personas take to become your customer.  Buyer journey research uncovers what prospects are thinking, feeling, doing, and how they interact with you throughout all stages of their journey.
  5. Letting personas gather dust on a “digital bookshelf”. If you follow all the best practices above, you should be in the clear 🙂 

We hope you’ve learned a thing or two, and are inspired to continue optimizing your persona journey. Have questions? Please don’t hesitate to reach out.

Alexandra Capello

Lex bends over backward (literally) to make sure the needs of clients’ are met. Her flexibility, positive energy, and marketing expertise make her an invaluable member to any effort she takes head-on, including teaching the Demand Spring weekly Yoga session.

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