Don’t target a marketing persona—find a peak moment instead

A Glass of Wine and a Blog Post : Volume 1

1

March 2018

Once a month or so, StudioNorth strategists Yolanda Hernandez and Eric Meerschaert pour themselves a glass of wine and talk about—what else?—marketing strategy. Here’s an edited transcript of a recent conversation.

Yolanda:

Hi, Eric. I’m excited to be launching our “Glass of Wine and a Blog Post” series, where we’ll be highlighting some key trends in customer experience. First things first: What are you drinking today?

Eric:

KistlerI’m having a glass of Kistler Chardonnay. It’s crisp and it’s got all kinds of layers of flavor. I once won a case of it by betting a bunch of executives I could pick a white wine they’d all like, so it’s been a favorite of mine ever since. How about you?

Yolanda:

Josh CellarsI’m drinking Josh’s Sauvignon Blanc. Not expensive and really casual. Reminds me of the Caribbean. I first drank this wine this past summer when my daughter and I were finalizing her wedding plans. She got married September 9 last year.

Eric:

Wow. Congratulations!

Yolanda:

We were drinking this wine when we looked down at our list and everything was checked off. Done. We toasted to a successfully executed plan. She had tears in her eyes and she thanked me. Made that wine taste so great! Quite the special moment.

Eric:

It’s interesting how the wine itself is probably good, but when you add the experience to the wine, it becomes really a peak moment, doesn’t it?

Yolanda:

Yes it does. It makes it constantly better just to have it again. It’s the connection to a memorable moment, which brings us to our topic today.

Eric:

Yes, that’s right.

Yolanda:

So let’s talk about why peak moments are so important to today’s digital marketers. When customers are connected 24/7 across multiple devices, it makes it tough for marketers today. Tools like persona-based marketing, journey mapping and customer touchpoints used to design the perfect customer experience. Not so much anymore.

Eric:

Hey, what about marketing personas? Are they dead? If you had done a persona on me, you would have targeted me for French reds, not U.S. white wine. But if you understood my peak moment, you’d buy me a bottle of Kistler Chardonnay. I think that in some ways, personas have become dead. They were useful, but they’re no longer helpful enough.

Yolanda:

I think so, too. When personas were introduced, their purpose was to help understand who the audience was and what their role was. It was a view of the decision maker. Today, it’s become a static view of an audience—a broad brush approach for all CIOs, CMOs or IT executives.

But the connected, always-on consumer has many different experiences, depending on a single moment of their day, their job or a specific issue they’re facing. An experience can’t be static.

Eric:

Right. The day you write a persona about the 20 CIOs you interviewed, the next day life changes. That’s the other thing about static personas—life changes. Today, I might not be under cost pressure. Company’s doing well, we’re working on an important strategy. So my buying mentality might not be on price …

Yolanda:

Or I could be a plant manager at a food processing company. Today everything is going well, no production line issues, so I’m focused on annual efficiency plans or introducing a new packaging form factor. But tomorrow I might walk into the plant and half my day is focused on dealing with product recalls.

Eric:

Right. And that persona won’t reflect the fact that your life has changed. Your competitor just bought a company that kills the unique nature of your product line—now what?

Static personas ignore the fact that decisions and actions that are happening right now, today, change people’s behaviors entirely. And so we miss the mark, right? We write marketing collateral targeting a CIO who’s under cost constraints, but maybe now the CIO’s under time constraints. The persona is meaningless.

Yolanda:

Absolutely.

Eric:

So I’m compelled to think personas don’t help us find the moments that really matter to people. Does that make sense to you?

Yolanda:

Definitely. And as we think about the moments that matter, it’s not only about pain points. It’s also uncovering the peak moments customers have and understanding how to replicate those peak moments throughout the customer experience so they connect with a brand in a relevant manner. A connection like you and I had with our wines. The personal and emotional connection when a customer feels elevated. Static personas won’t uncover that.

Eric:

Right. Instead of writing personas, I think we’ll soon be doing maps of different roles to get to some of those peak moments. What’s exciting—where there’s real opportunity for great marketing in this real-time digital universe—is to figure out how to find those moments that really matter. Not just the pinpoint.

Yolanda:

That’s right.

Eric:

When you start with a static persona, you write a few pieces of information about pain points that you can address with your solution and you think you’ve told the story. But when you think about moments and owning those moments, it’s a much more dynamic approach to marketing. And that’s why I’m excited to explore that more.

Yolanda:

Yes. And I’m excited about the work we’re doing at the Studio helping our customers explore that more, too.

Hey, maybe the launch of our new blog series “A Glass of Wine and a Blog Post” is a peak moment, too. Our series will cover more topics like moments that matter, peak moments and how to enhance the customer experience.

Eric:

And with that, I’m going to finish my glass of Kistler. Thanks.

Yolanda:

I’m going to finish my glass of wine, too. Salud, Eric.

Eric:

Salud!

Yolanda Hernandez

Yolanda Hernandez

Senior Marketing Strategist

Yolanda’s areas of focus include Marketing Insights, Customer Experience and Engagement, Account Based Marketing, Omnichannel, Content Strategy, Marketing Ops, Analytics and Lead Management. She has worked on executive leadership teams of Fortune 500 institutions in financial services, IT, industrial supplies and healthcare.

Eric Meerschaert

Eric Meerschaert

Executive Director Account Strategy

Eric has a deep background of marketing leadership at Global 500 software companies, and was President of Click Commerce. His strategy roots grow from McKinsey & Co, where he learned that analytics, not instincts, drive the best corporate and market strategies.

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