Monday, September 25, 2006

Your Opinion Doesn't Count

So whose does?

In a recent post, Anne Holland of MarketingSherpa discussed the benefits of personas to marketing. To add my spin, they represent the soul and embodiment of a target audience. A good persona represents a single individual; not a typical 'average', not a composite, but a living breathing person that we can relate to and empathize with. Since we're all different, any given scenario is likely to have 3-5 personas.

Technology firms often uses personas as part of the development process. For instance Teradata's Relationship Manager is even marketed as a persona-based solution. Starting in the 80s as a means of improving product design, Alan Cooper focused on improving development by explicitly defining the target user. He has written several books on the subject; one of which is appropriate for marketing and appropriately titled.

Written for a business audience "The Inmates are Running the Asylum" makes a simple point -- we should design products before we build them. And in order to design, we must understand for whom we are building. The discussion goes on as to why software engineers are a different breed, making this more difficult than it ought to be. The point here is that marketing is no different: We must thoroughly understand with whom we are communicating.

To paraphrase the openings to Chapter 3 and 5: "It's harder than you might think to squander millions of dollars, but a flawed [marketing] process is well suited to the job. .... The real benefit of offering a well-[targeted] product or service is the fierce loyalty it generates in your clientele."

Now that's a plea for marketing to get involved.

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