Swinging Savvy Singles, Golden Ponds, Shotguns and Pickups


Using Buyer Personas to Help You Sell

By Sue BradyNASCAR

Years ago I was redesigning the customer acquisition side of my company’s website. I had done some Claritas modeling and looked at my Prizm segments, so vaguely knew that a large chunk of my customers were NASCAR fans and over 45 years old. They were definitely not Swinging Savvy Singles. I also knew that there were more women than men among my buyers. Most importantly for me, I was selling Internet service and knew that the bulk of my audience was not technically savvy.

I kept all that in mind while the site design was underway. My mistake was, I wasn’t very ‘official’ about it, and didn’t have actual personas written out to help guide my developer’s efforts. I realize now that the site could have been so much better with just a little more direction.

Using personas helps you really understand your prospects’ wants and needs, and their motivation to take action. Tweet that!

As it turns out, user personas are in fact key to designing a website that your users will visit and interact with. Why? Because it’s important your website has a human voice that talks to your prospects in a way they like and can relate to. It’s of course impossible to be everything to everyone, but almost every brand can define who their typical customer is. And if you clearly define that person, it will bring design and copy guidance to your website.

It’s far easier to write with a reader in mind than without. For instance, let’s say you sell rubber balls. If you weren’t writing your website with the parent of a child in mind, you might end up using valuable space on things like the use of the vinyl, the air pressure required to keep the ball full, or the height a ball can bounce given 20 lbs of force. With your target buyer in mind however, you instead might devote your copy to the fun games you can play with the ball and how easy it is for small hands to grip. You get the idea.

Writing personas for business to business is a little bit different in terms of how you define your customer. You need to think about things like the prospect’s job title, the typical problems they are trying to solve, who else in the organization might impact the buying decision. Some types of B2B buyers want all of the details upfront to aid in their decision making process. Others want to be able to understand the benefits from a higher level, perhaps focusing solely on cost savings or ease of implementation. Many websites see both types of visitors and so they allow their users to self-select their path through the site.

There are many ways to help users through your site. You can create separate paths for small business vs medium vs enterprise for instance, or for Hospitality vs Healthcare vs Legal. The key is to design your site for one or two versions of your target buyer. Note that some companies do write for multiple personas, and that approach can work. It’s also more difficult, and the real key is understanding how those different personas will use your website so that they can self-select their own path through it.

HubSpot has created a nice template to help you create your own buyer personas. Claritas Prizm segments can also help. Good luck and remember, an Urban Achiever is not a Bedrock America. Words to live by.

Urban Rural*

Why Everyone Should Take Acting Classes


By Sue Brady

ImprovI’m not talking about actors and actresses who act for a living. I’m talking about everyone else. Acting can help you be better in your job, no matter what that job is. Acting helps you feel comfortable in front of other people, helps you negotiate, and helps you to sell your big idea.  This applies to everyone: marketers, teachers, sales people, business people, athletes, police officers, lawyers. Any job that has to deal with other people can benefit from acting classes.

Here’s why I’ve reached this dramatic (ha!) conclusion. First, a story about my daughter, Julie. Julie did no acting in high school, but when she started college, stumbled into a couple of improv troupes. She was successful and funny. Improv is incredibly difficult. You have to be smart and have the ability to think on your feet. You have to learn how to work in a team, support your team and add to your team’s efforts (“yes and” is a mantra). Learning improv can make you more confident, a better public speaker, help you adapt, think on the spot and feel in control of every situation. Name one job where those skills wouldn’t be helpful!

Now Julie has an internship with the Kane County Cougars, a minor league team for the Cubs. Her ultimate goal is to become the Commissioner of Baseball. Last week after work, the Interns were matched against the Full-time Staff for a softball game. Julie was the manager for the Interns. It was all in the spirit of fun of course. After a controversial call against the Interns, Julie stormed the fielPlay ball!d, yelled a blue streak, threw her baseball cap down and was thrown out of the game by the ump. It was exactly what she wanted to have happen. Her team cheered and gave her a standing ovation. It charged them up. It was great acting…and they even let her come back! How many times have you watched a baseball game and seen the ball player ‘sell’ his tag, or the runner ‘sell’ beating the tag. In basketball and football too, the players often have to act to ‘sell’ the ref on the foul.

Think about the last time you were put in an awkward situation, or had to sell an idea. Acting skills would have been so useful! Earlier this summer, I was asked by the University of Illinois Engineering Department to present a teaching award to a professor. I had done this a few years ago, in a small room, with maybe 50 people. I was happy to be able to do it again. When I arrived, I realized that they had changed the format from a private ceremony to inclusion in the convocation. Rather than 50 professors, I was marched on stage with the department, and as a part of graduation, delivered my speech to 8,000+ people. I had to dig deep to remember those acting classes from high school so that I could wing a speech that was originally written for a handful of professors. Acting skills helped.

I have some presentations coming up in the next few months, and you better believe that I am dusting off those acting skills to help me engage my audience while speaking clearly and projecting my voice :)


Scrums, Chickens, Pigs: Should you be Using Agile in your Marketing?


By Sue BradyThe Chicken

I worked for a company for a time that used Agile methodology for its software, design and tech development. I couldn’t decide if I liked it or not. It had all sorts of funny rules, nomenclature and tasks, like daily stands, scrums, points, sprints, follow-ups to sprints and so on. The first issue was that I didn’t understand it because the Marketing folks were (unintentionally) kept in the dark regarding why things were done a certain way. And because I didn’t understand what was going on ‘over there,’ I was unhappy each time a piece of my project was delivered…but not the full project.

Marketing was frustrated. Tech was frustrated, and it finally occurred to the CTO that us marketing types really had no knowledge of the process. He had the great idea to have me accompany his new development VP to an Agile conference. And I finally got it. I still thought there were odd parts to it (like during each sprint review where each person gets praised for the work they’ve done during the sprint…), but at least I understood why I kept getting pieces of my projects instead of the whole project all at once. It would have been great to have known that in advance!

When done right, there are a number of benefits from using the Agile method:

  • All of the stakeholders are engaged from the start. This increases collaboration.
  • Involvement. Related to collaboration, the ‘client’ is very involved in the whole process.
  • Everyone understands the schedule. Delivery happens every week or two (per the schedule), and everyone knows that’s how it’s going to work.
  • ‘Out’ requirements (aka backlog) can be changed as each delivery is made without it being considered scope creep. That’s because the Client is involved and can make trade-off decisions.
  • Priorities can be easily shifted.
  • Costs can be better controlled.
  • Tech teams seem to really like working under this method.

Once I heard that there was a new method known as Agile Marketing, I decided I had to learn more about it. I liked the sound of it, what with user stories being key to articulating needs…similar to user personas.

Testing is a key component to effective marketing. And because of that, it lends itself perfectly to Agile. Constant and frequent change based on testing is key to success for a Marketer. Tweet that! Acting fast and reacting to change is what Marketers do.

The philosophy behind Agile Marketing is not that you’re working faster. Rather, it’s about constant delivery and iteration to deliver better results. And that’s done by effective prioritization and reprioritization based on the outcomes of each sprint. Direction is clear, and approach can be adapted. It does sound like a great way to manage a lot of work.

PigOh, and that reference to the chicken and the pig above? There’s an old fable about a chicken and pig discussing what to name their new restaurant. The chicken suggests ‘Ham ‘n Eggs,’ but the pig doesn’t like that name. The pig has a pretty big sacrifice in that meal, but the chicken, less so. In other words, the pig is committed, while the chicken is just involved. Even though the fable is no longer included in the official Scrum process, both of these animals still may have roles assigned in the Agile environment. Pigs are committed and accountable to the project. Chickens are referred to as consultants and are kept informed on the project’s progress.

If you are an Agile Marketer, please share your experiences of how you’ve made it work. And, I would love to hear how you manage the annual budgeting process in an Agile environment to allow for change. I plan to write a follow-up post detailing the specifics of moving a specific project through the Agile process.


What’s all this About the Internet of Things?


By Sue Brady


You’ve heard it a lot, but have you thought about what it means?

First a definition. The Internet of Things refers not just to computers and mobile devices, but also to all of the other things that can be hooked up to the Internet, like your home security system, your thermostat, wearable devices, building automation, car insurance based on how much you drive. Even tracking your pet’s location in the event he runs away. It ultimately might include things like automated cities where street lighting is controlled through the Internet, or smart water systems (Sau Paulo already is claiming they’ve reduced leaks in their water systems by putting Internet connected sensors on their pumps).

Experts are predicting a massive market change brought on by the Internet of Things.

And what does that mean for marketers? It’s big and it’s coming.

There are so many ways the Internet of things could change the way we sell our products. On a basic level, the Internet of Things could take outdoor advertising to a whole new level by automating billboards. Signage could be changed through programming based on weather or traffic patterns of the moment or the outcome of a local sporting event. Ecommerce retailers could push alerts to customers of package deliveries by using a scanner on the front door. TV advertising could be changed by the moment based on events happening right then. Call centers could be connected to make efficient use of the pathways into their center for call arrivals and for the data that could be attached to those calls (think demographic data, data about devices currently in use by the caller) and create more intelligent algorithms to route those calls. DoNotCall could happen real-time for outbound calling programs. There are thousands of ways the Internet of Things can change marketing…all hopefully for the better! Give the customer what they want, when they want it.

There’s an opportunity here for strategic, creative thinkers to make a huge impact with some really great ideas. Time to use our brains and innovate.

It’s about to be a whole new world.