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 engage my audience while speaking clearly and projecting my smilevoice.