Adria Fischer, Director of Customer Marketing at Sovos, made this presentation at the Customer Marketing Summit in September 2021. Watch presentations OnDemand now.
My name’s Adria Fischer and I'm the Director of Customer Marketing at Sovos, a leader in the tax and regulatory compliance industry.
We’re a global company specializing in solutions for the complexities of digital tax transformation, with complete and connected offerings for tax determination, continuous transaction control, tax reporting, and more.
I've been working in marketing for over 15 years, and I've had the good fortune to work at some great companies including Time Warner Cable, Comcast, WGBH, as well as Kronos, which is now UKG before joining Sovos, half a year ago.
So, I've held a variety of roles in marketing, including program management, customer reference management, competitive intelligence, and product marketing before joining the ranks of customer marketing about four years ago. That said, I found my place when I entered the world of customer marketing.
It's been a wonderful journey for my career so far, and I'm loving the growth that's happening in this field, as there are so many opportunities.
It’s a really exciting time for anybody who wants to learn more or pursue this area, and this session emphasizes that the key to engaging customers is an investment in developing robust and dynamic customer personas, specifically focusing on how your personas interact with your business, your product or your service, as well as how they engage, knowing what they need, and more importantly, why they matter.
What is the role of a customer marketer?
I believe the role of the customer marketer is to gather insights and extrapolate why each persona matters. After all, every persona matters, whether they’re an end-user or a decision-maker.
Continuously researching, interviewing, and validating your personas is essential to developing meaningful and relevant multi-channel content. It also ensures that the content you create is going to resonate, and you're delivering the right message to the right person at the right time using the right tactics.
One of the first projects I undertook when I transitioned to customer marketing was developing my company's customer personas. I didn't know it at the time, but it would become a pivotal project in my career. As time went by, my name became increasingly associated with customer persona work that I'd done; I was often brought into conversations to provide guidance for how to use them, and also approached by other customer-facing teams who wanted to learn more.
Ultimately, I was called in as the SME (Subject Matter Expert) when it came to the organization's customer personas. Doing the research and analysis to develop the customer personas laid the groundwork for validating future decisions around release readiness, events, strategies, and many other programs.
A solid understanding of the customer personas enabled my team to create segmented programs and more tailored learning paths and user events, which provided greater value and more relevant content.
In this article, I’ll focus on:
- What personas are,
- The difference between user and buyer personas,
- How to keep your personas current, and
- Persona mapping.
What is a persona?
A persona is defined as a fictional character created to represent a user type that might use a site, brand, or product in a similar way.
Personas are used to consider the goals, desires, and limitations of buyers and users to help guide decisions about a business's service, product, or interaction. Put simply, the purpose of any persona, whether this is buyer or customer personas, is to help you understand a particular personas needs, experiences, behaviors, and goals.
I’m also an advocate of making the distinction between all three types of personas within your organization because they each serve their own purpose. Buyer personas are going to be focused on pain points, or daily frustrations and challenges, as well as what type of information they lean on during the buying process.
Additionally, they’re also an important tool for how to effectively position your solution or service during the buying stage of the life cycle. Moreover, when a supplier purchases the product or service, they become a customer.
How are user and customer personas different?
I've often seen confusion around user and customer personas; after all, the customer uses the solution or service, so why would they not simply be a user persona?
Generally, user personas are created by user experience or user research teams for design and engineering purposes. On the other hand, customer personas are a tool that should be created and used by marketing, specifically customer marketing.
User personas as created by a user experience team often get into demographic details like age, type of employment level of education, income, hobbies, interests, etc. As one Director of UX explained to me years ago, the details matter for user personas because they're a tool for engineers, who may benefit from a better understanding of the person who is going to be on the receiving end of their coding and design.
In simple terms, user personas are a means to humanize why feature X matters, or why button A should be located where it is.
We also have customer personas, and these focus on how customers interact with the solution, the product, or even the business, as well as how they engage, what they need, and most importantly, why they matter to your company or organization.
Finally, customer personas matter because a lot of customer marketing is focused on communicating the right information, to the right person, at the right time, in the right way.
To share relevant information with the appropriate audience, we need to first identify who that audience is, what information they need to consume, why they need to consume it, and the correct time to communicate that information to them.
Customer personas help us align the appropriate information with the correct person, so communications and content are meaningful, tailored, and timely.