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September 07, 2010


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I was in sales before I became a physician and this article is right on the money. Whether your Jane Goodall, a missionary or a sales & marketing person; we must observe, listen and have a genuine interest in our "subjects" to achieve notewortny results!

Hello Cheryl,

It is refreshing to see your post. Our firm Goal Centric has been at the center of the origins of buyer personas for well over 8 years and have seen them grow in popularity but also poorly understood. It is nice to see the emphasis on cultural anthropology and actually doing research - which we have done as part of our work with clients. Many buyer personas have been created without this critical component and thus have proved to be faulty. I encourage your efforts and it is great to see. If we may be of help as a resource for your writing and etc., please do let us know.

Tony Zambito

Great article! It is a delight to see more marketing leaders talk about applying personas to their strategies. The persona is more than a label. It needs to be a complete illustration of a target buyer, their pain points and opportunities, and the values that they share relative to products they purchase. While a persona template is a very simple concept, the value it provides marketers for honing their segmentation strategy, targeting the product positioning, and crafting relevant messaging is huge.

As an example check out the persona of the "Skeptical Futurist" here: http://marketingcampaigndevelopment.wordpress.com/2010/02/05/the-case-of-the-skeptical-futurist-a-persona-exercise/

What do you do after you create the persona? I offer this example on how the persona shaped the positioning and messaging: http://www.kickstartall.com/documents/KS_Articles/MessageBox.html

I'm looking forward to reading more on this topic from Cheryl and her team!

Mike Gospe

Finally someone understands what a cultural anthropologist does. I am an applied psychological anthropologist (a type of cultural anthropologist). 47 years ago, I formed the anthropology club at George Washington University. My first speech to this group was: "The Business of Anthropology is Business!"

Now I am a Certified Management Consultant specializing in management communication and the use of plain English. I have been immersing myself and my writers in the life of our target audience for the past 33 years. I stress to my writers, consultants, and the benefits of knowing not just what the client does, but what they need to do whatever they do better and more efficiently.

We have been so successful that we were able to transform the culture of the US Postal Service, make credit policy uniformly implement across their worldwide operations for one of this country's biggest banks, and communicated employee benefits to thousands of employees and beneficiaries at hundreds of companies, so they actually understood their benefits, how to use them and what their responsibilities were--an obligation under ERISA that is poorly carried out even now, 33 years after the ERISA law was enacted.

However, when you analyze what practices you learned from your neighborhood cultural anthropologist, all these practices amount to common sense. Just as "management by walking" around was a practice popularized over 40 years ago and "cross-training" was the most effective means of "business process re-engineering" 45 years before Harvard discovered BPR or Denny started employing "Quality Circles" in Japan.

Congradulations on rediscovering anthropology--the study of people. By the way, your daughter would be well served by studying cultural anthropology and marketing as a dual major.

Great post!

As a Digital Marketing Consultant one of the first tasks we do with clients is to identify the personas visiting their websites. Also valuable is watching people who fit each persona using the website. This supplies invaluable insight into how to design websites and marketing campaigns to be serve the customers/personas.

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