Jolina Pettice

Session: Search Marketing and Persona Models

dsc00394.JPGThe personas session, today at SMX, reminded me so much of psychology classes in college. A large group of people discussing why other people behave the way they do.

Gord Hotchkiss, President and CEO of Enquiro, kicked things off by helping the audience understand the factors impacting how humans make decisions, including:

  • explicit, implicit memories
  • past interactions with a brand
  • current interactions with the brand
  • emotions

Additional panelists included:
Brian Bond, VP Marketing and Products, Future Now, Inc
Ian Lurie, President, Portent Interactive

As Ian put it, personas are our brand’s imaginary friends.

I think the advantage of personas is really in the research it takes to get there. In order to develop personas, you must dive deeply into what’s behind prospects’ decision making, something that companies may not always invest the time in understanding.

Understand your prospects and customers (remember, they are your former prospects), what makes them tick and why they chose you.

If you decide to use personas to help understand your business, don’t forget the following:
Existing Resources
Leverage sales teams and customer service reps as these folks have the best information about who you are targeting.

Human Hardware Hurdles

  • Channel Capacity – Humans can only retain 4 or 5 chunks of information at a timeMen vs Women’s Brain in Decision Making - SMX West
  • Bounded Rationality – The use of heuristics to narrow down the list to a manageable amount of options
  • Subconscious triggers – Experiences with the brand, sales reps etc
  • Men vs Women – In addition, men and women are different, physiologically, in how they make decisions.Women use twice as much of their brain when making a decision. (I’ll pass by the obvious jokes here) 🙂

Emotions will always trump all other decision-making factors

It’s difficult, if not damn near impossible, to market to a group you don’t understand and/or care about

Qualitative Information
The information derived from a persona initiative will never be based solely in numbers (read analytics). Rather its subjective decisions about the persona you have created and how to best get people to take the action you want. If you’re looking for clear cut data in an excel grid, this isn’t it.

If the considerations above make sense, you may be ready to leverage personas to understand your prospects and grow your business.

A great point this group made, and I think will stick with me, is this:

It’s about what you could have sold and what people are not doing. What analytics data shows you is the people who did what you’re tracking.

Perhaps what we should be asking is this: Do we know what our visitors are not doing – and why they’re not doing it?

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  1. I attended this session and Jolina provides a great summary to a complicated topic.

  2. Like the observation about “psychology classes in college. A large group of people discussing why other people behave the way they do.”

    I’ve always been amused by the MBA grads with whom I’ve worked who think that business is some kind of hard science, with their models and graphs and projections that always approximate, never hit the bullseye.

    That’s because business is a “social science,” a “soft” science. Understanding why people behave the way they do and then building a business around that is what it’s all about.


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