So, you’ve done the research to make some fantastic personas for your organization. If marketing is the only team using them though, the whole tone, approach, and representation of your organization will feel wrong. In this article, we cover:
- Why sharing persona work is important
- How to distribute your personas
- Tailoring your distribution to your organization
Why sharing your persona work is important
Your persona work is only as good as their uptake. You can spend months on end thoroughly researching your market, conducting your interviews, consolidating the data, and fine-tuning your finished-off persona document, but if customer marketing’s the only department that ends up using those persona documents, all your hard work’s barely scratching the surface.
How to distribute your personas
Now, how you communicate your persona work will largely depend on the size of your organization. If you’re a large, global organization with 100s or 1,000s of employees, realistically, you’re not going to be able to hold face-to-face briefings with everyone, whereas if you’re a smaller company, those kinds of intimate training sessions might be more feasible.
If you fall into the bucket of a large company though, we’d recommend starting with core members from each of those departments that need to be informed about your personas - so you know, your product, sales, marketing, customer success, sales enablement, and engineering teams, whatever makes the most sense for your setup, and give them the full, all bells and whistles presentation.
Your job in this presentation is not only to ensure they’re educated about the what, why, and how of personas, but that they’re bought into your personas to the point they then advocate them for you, within the rest of their team.
Think of it a bit like a train-the-trainer kind of thing. Investing a few hours into these presentations will be more than worth the time if you then have a team of internal advocates who share your mission and understanding of personas, and help do some of the heavy lifting for you.
When you’re setting up these presentations, we’d probably recommend separating them out and speaking to people on a team level and the reason for this is the benefits and use cases will vary a lot depending on who you’re talking to.
- For your demand-gen team, it might be that they can now use a different targeting method for each persona and create hyper-targeted ads for each persona.
- For sales, it might be that they can tailor their calls to specific goals.
- For product, it’s that they can create products *for* personas, to ensure they’re hitting the mark.
- For content marketing, it might be that they can create more appealing and engaging content that speaks directly to that persona’s pain points, and so on.
So book those meetings and make sure you clearly articulate the value to each team on that really personal level.
So on the agenda, you’ll want to make sure you’re including things like what personas actually are, why they’re so important to the company as a whole and to their team and targets, how you built your personas, what audience each persona represents, the importance of using personas, how to use personas on a day-to-day basis, and then arm them with anything they might need to handle objections when relaying your message on to their respective teams.
Also, don’t forget to record these sessions so they’re available on-demand, this will help your newfound trainers when spreading the word among their team, and can also be used in onboarding material for any new starters.
The follow-up step: Refresher sessions
Of course, suppose you’re taking this train-the-trainer approach. In that case, it’s important to remember to have refresher sessions so things don’t accidentally get diluted over time, and also remember to keep your trainers up to speed with any changes - good or bad. Let them celebrate the wins with you, and also let them help overcome any challenges with you.
As any customer marketer will tell you, we don’t work in isolation, and this support is essential.
After that, you can think about scaling the persona distribution with something like an internal intranet system - if you have one - with something like a dedicated persona hub where you store all relevant documents, and have a forum for people to ask questions.
The last thing you want to do is just shove the personas in front of people without a way of two-way communication, because if people can’t easily ask and get an answer to their question, they’ll more than likely make one up, and that’s the last thing you want.
You could even make a bit of an event of this. So share your personas on this intranet system, or in an email, or Slack, whatever your company’s communication platform is, give everyone a chance to digest them, and then a few days later hold a live session whereby people can either submit questions in advance or ask them on the spot.
Particularly for larger organizations, this is a great way to try and address everyone and give everyone the opportunity to ask questions or share insights, without spending too much time doing persona tours. And again, be sure to record this session so people can refer back to it and new recruits can catch up on it.
The follow-up step: Internal case studies
Once you’ve done this first communication piece though, don’t just stop there. Around two to four weeks later, put another meeting in everyone’s calendar to check in and see if or how those personas have benefited their teams.
If they listened to you and implemented them this conversation will provide you with valuable feedback. If they didn’t listen and the personas have been left untouched, it’ll give them another nudge to take action.
To really drive that adoption it could be worth including internal case studies in those follow-up meetings too.
For example, if your demand-gen team or some of your sales reps started personalizing their ads and calls using your persona documents and saw an uplift in conversions, use those stats to hammer home the importance and value of them. As soon as people see and understand tangible, data-driven benefits like that, the adoption will take care of itself.
A lot of marketers will tell you the hardest part of personas isn’t actually doing the research or getting the customers on the phone or analyzing all the qualitative data at the end, it’s explaining what they are, and why they’re important.
Now using internal case studies like we just mentioned is one way to overcome this, and another is coming armed with examples of other companies who’re doing a great job of targeting their market through their personas, so they can see the end result in action.
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Another thing that’ll be a huge help is having sponsorship from your VP of Product and/or Marketing and your CEO. This makes a huge, huge difference to the impact you can have with your personas, and this applies to a broader marketing spectrum too.
If people are bought into what you do and understand the value of what you do, it’s going to be much, much easier to roll out and scale what you do - personas or otherwise, so going back to the whole ‘train the trainer’ concept I mentioned earlier, if you can, try and put the responsibility on team leaders to scale your persona information further.
You know, tell them you’re there to enable them with anything they can think of, but the onus is on them to ensure they cascade it down to their teams.
The follow-up step: Ensure people are invested
Another thing to bear in mind is that if you’ve brought enough of the right people into the process early, they should already be excited about the output of that work, and that itself will help with communication cascading.
Also, don’t be afraid of being everywhere, especially for something as important as personas. Send an email, get some time in the next marketing, sales, product, and customer success meetings, share something on your intranet, post something in Slack, whatever means you have available to you, be a megaphone, and share, share, share that message.
Tailor your distribution to your organization
And finally, remember that every company is different. Hopefully, some of the ideas I’ve just been through have given you some food for thought, but it’s really about tailoring your communication plan to whatever will get the most uptake:
- If you’re in a meeting-first company, book a meeting.
- If you’re in a company whereby all the important stuff gets said in Slack, say it in Slack.
- If you’re in a company that lives in Google Drive, dedicate a space in your Google Drive to personas.
There are a ton of variables but if in doubt, or if you’re new to your company, just ask the question: how do you prefer to consume big updates or key information? No harm ever came from asking.
I’ve just got one last idea before I wrap up.
A persona is simply a fictitious representation of a real-life set of people remember, so why not get some of those real-life people to come and tell their stories? Admittedly this isn’t an easy ask and not every customer is going to want to help you with this - in fact, to be honest, not many probably are, but if you manage to find some, it’ll be worth it.
This kind of approach takes the human element of your personas to the next level, circulates the information in a way that cannot be disputed, and is much, much more memorable.
And remember, location doesn’t have to be an issue here either, something like Zoom would do, and if the customer would feel more comfortable, you could even do the video call one-on-one, get people to submit questions in advance, and then share the recording after, that way you don’t have the barrier of people not feeling comfortable speaking in front of a virtual or physical room full of people.
Before you move on to another article, I’d like you to go away and have a think about where your personas are currently housed and how you last communicated them out, versus where all the companies big announcements get made and adopted, and honestly ask yourself, did you give them the air time they needed?
If you didn’t, it’s never too late.
You need to put your personas in front of the right people, and to do that, you need to be in the right places.
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