x close
Nothing to display...
9 min read

Listen without prejudice: Conducting persona studies and taking action from them

Membership content | Personas

This article originates from a presentation at the Product Marketing Summit, Las Vegas in 2022. At the time, the speaker, Ali Hanyaloglu, was the Senior Director of Product Marketing at Akeneo. He’s now the VP of Product Marketing at Amplience.

Catch up on this presentation, and others, using our OnDemand service. For more exclusive content, visit your membership dashboard.

Hi, I'm Ali. I'm a product marketer, I'm a storyteller, and I love 90s music. For any fellow 90s music fans, there are three albums sprinkled into this article. See if you can spot them all.

Let me tell you a story. It's about how last year my team and I decided to throw the personas that we had out the window and start all over again with a fresh approach. No more 50-slide decks about Marketing Maggie, her age, and her titles – just actionable personas that can benefit the entire organization and therefore ultimately benefit our customers.

In this article, I’ll look specifically at:

About Akeneo

For those of you who don't know Akeneo, where I lead the product marketing team, we’re in the product information management (PIM) space. We sell our solution to brands, manufacturers, and retailers with vast catalogs of products that they sell online, whether that’s on their own site, through a marketplace, or elsewhere.

We not only help them manage all the information about the products that they sell, but we add marketing enrichment, so it's compelling and stands out.

The problem with our personas

Now, let’s get back to our story. At the start of this journey, we had the same kinds of personas that everybody else does. They were okay, but I wanted to challenge them. I wanted to test if they truly matched the customers we were talking to, and the way I wanted to do that was by validating our assumptions through both quantitative and qualitative research.

As is often the case, our personas were filled with the kinds of profiles that I talked about before: “Here's marketing Maggie, she is typically a VP of Marketing or a CMO. She has these challenges,” and so on and so forth.

We’d use those personas as part of things like new hire onboarding, but nobody really knew what to do with that information. That's what we needed to change. The personas were too focused on people and not focused enough on what they were trying to achieve.

The other issue was that these personas were highly anecdotal, based on conversations with sales and product management teams. We needed to become more data-driven in our approach.

Worse still, all of our personas were derived from our user persona, Julia. There's a big sign in our head office in Nantes that says, “Build what Julia wants.” That’s a great rallying call for the product team and engineers, but what about everybody else? We had put Julia at the center and gone out from there: Julia's boss, Julia’s IT person. It was time for a new approach.

An enhanced understanding of our buyers

We realized that everything we knew about personas was wrong. We needed to enhance our understanding of not the user, but the buyer. As product marketers, this is the value we can bring to the organization.

Written by:

Ali Hanyaloglu

Ali Hanyaloglu

Ali is the VP of Product Marketing at Amplience.

Read More
Listen without prejudice: Conducting persona studies and taking action from them