The Evolution of Personas

I’ve taken a short blogging hiatus to work on some career opportunities (stay tuned for more on that), however, a recent article by Corporate Visions caught my eye in which they’ve proposed that “Personas Can Lead Your Messaging Astray.” Being a big fan of personas and being well aligned with CVI’s approach to messaging, this post got my attention.

What this really entails is an evolution of personas from attitudinal and behavioral personality profiles (born in the B2C world) to profiles which articulate the B2B prospect’s reasons to either stay with their current situation/solution (Status Quo) or to move away from their current solution (preferably to yours). CVI calles these evolved personas “Status Quo Profiles” and goes on to articulate the information these profiles need to provide about your prospect:

  • How are decision makers solving the challenges your product or service offer to solve today?
  • Why do they think it’s great?
  • What issues, challenges, threats, risks or missed opportunities have arisen since they likely purchased their current solution or implemented their existing approach?
  • What gaps exist in the current approach that will keep them from avoiding these potential problems, or capitalizing on new opportunities?

So, I agree that personas need to evolve and become more effective guide posts for messaging that leads a prospect from his status quo to my solution. The provocative post by CVI go my attention and helps me put some stakes in the ground around our personas or “Staus Quo Profiles.” Properly designed, as articulated above by CVI, these profiles become a critical True North in the development and operationalization of our messaging. Especially in large, complex organizations where multiple product leaders vie or attention from the Marketing department and for customers mind share, these profiles remain a critical tool to keep us honest internally. In their evolved state, they put a rationale around the messaging that gets developed.

Traditional persona elements such as how the prospect gets his information, industry trends he follows, etc. will continue to be important for B2B marketers as we make decisions about channels and tactical execution of our messaging. But, the core of what drives purchase preference for the target needs to evolve as we seek to understand what, exactly, is the status quo that we must loosen before we can lead the prospect toward our unique solution to his problem.

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