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October 10, 2012


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Tony Zambito

Hi David,

Hope all is well and you look great. The article was interesting. I was very glad to see the use of third-party research to arrive at the cluster of personas. Nielsen attempted behavior-based targeting once before and had difficulty. This attempt looks more solid and is research-backed. Buyer personas continue to evolve and will continue to do so. As companies attempt to adapt to market and behavioral shifts - the use of expertise in research, particularly value of third-party unbiased research, will be more understood as well as appreciated. Thanks for being an advocate all these years!

Tony Zambito

Harry Henry

Hi David - agree that this is the way consumer marketing is moving and glad to see the shift. There are a few firms doing some great work building personnas and segmentation on the consumer marketing side.

One of the next industry challenges will be for the infrastructure that supports marketing to catch up. For example, if I want to find a group of males 20-39 to market to, there are all sorts of lists, magazines, on-line audiences and broadcasters I can use as an avenue to reach them. Transitioning to finding the "Shy Sams" or other behavior groups is a road not yet paved.

David Meerman Scott

Harry, great point on the infrastructure.

Your comment brought two things to mind: 1) the idea of buyer personas might be even more important for B2B companies as consumer brands. And 2) the best marketing is done by companies who develop their own personas and create their own content rather than picking from some vendor's lists.

Adele Revella

Thanks so much for linking to my site, David. Your books and presentations have clearly taken the need for buyer personas to the masses. I was happy to see that NBC based their personas on research, but their marketers missed out on the chance to do this work themselves, positioning the marketing team as the source of these strategies, not just project managers.

The buyer experts are the people who interview the buyers, not the people who pay for them.

I'm also dismayed when companies like NBC publish their findings -- why give their competitors this insight? Orbitz did something similar a few months ago, revealing that Mac users spent more on a hotel night than PC users. That revelation sparked a firestorm of controversy, and handed these valuable insights to other travel services. Crazy. I wrote a blog post about Orbitz that people might find interesting http://bit.ly/MX1oJM.

Thanks again David.

David Meerman Scott

Adele, as usual you have some keen insights. This quote is genius: "The buyer experts are the people who interview the buyers, not the people who pay for them."

And while people like me like hearing about personas, you're right that there is a competitive advantage to keeping things internal.

Thanks for taking the time to comment.

Wayne Cerullo

Great story, David. We should focus on one particularly telling point about your example.

Think about "Shy Sam". Do you think marketers figured out that Sam is shy by sitting around a conference table? Or by reviewing pounds of questionnaires that Sam filled out describing himself as "shy" or "looking for a girlfriend"?? Hint: those are rhetorical questions.

"You can’t just make this stuff up"... but there are marketers who have turned "personas" into the "solution marketing" buzzword of 2012 without doing the real insight work to make them work. That's dangerous. And costly. ANd a missed opportunity left open to your competitors.

David Meerman Scott

Wayne - you are absolutely right.

I can't tell you how many marketers tell me about their wonderful personas. When I probe, it's just them sitting in their conference room backing into a persona based on their product or service attributes.

Chris Boudreaux

David, How are you seeing brands buy media with their internally-defined personas? What is the best-practice translation process from persona to media buy?

P.S. TypePad OAuth to Twitter failed on 4 attempts. : )

David Meerman Scott

Chris - Sorry about the login stuff. Not sure what is happening... I'm not an expert in media buying so I can't really comment on that. I'm a much bigger fan of earning attention by publishing content for free than buying attention with advertising.

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