28 June 2024

Episode 9: Effective Buyer Personas With Naomi Soman From Storylogick Consulting

Welcome to the ninth episode of B2B Tech Marketing Talks, presented by Filament.

The theme of our ninth podcast episode is Effective Buyer Personas.

Joining our host Jeremy Balius to discuss all things buyer personas is Naomi Soman, Founder of Storylogick Consulting.


In this conversation, Naomi Soman discusses the importance of redefining buyer personas in the marketing world. She emphasizes the need to move away from the traditional approach of creating detailed profiles based on demographics and instead focus on understanding the problems, goals, and dreams of the target audience. Naomi suggests using recorded sales calls and customer conversations to gather insights and create more effective buyer personas. She also highlights the value of mirroring the language of customers in marketing copy and tailoring messaging to different stages of the buyer’s journey. Additionally, Naomi discusses the significance of disqualifying irrelevant leads and the power of storytelling in making buyer personas relatable and memorable.

Key Takeaways

  • Redefine buyer personas by focusing on understanding the problems, goals, and dreams of the target audience.
  • Use recorded sales calls and customer conversations to gather insights and create more effective buyer personas.
  • Mirror the language of customers in marketing copy to make it more relatable and increase conversions.
  • Tailor messaging to different stages of the buyer’s journey to provide the right message at the right time.
  • Consider disqualifying irrelevant leads to focus on high-quality prospects.
  • Utilize storytelling to make buyer personas more memorable and relatable.

About Naomi Soman

Naomi Soman has worked in several hyper-growth startups in Tel Aviv, including both scrappy series A companies and even a powerful unicorn. She focuses on crafting messaging and writing copy for performance marketing teams to consistently improve conversion rates and bring in higher-quality leads. 

From social ads to massive ABM-driven lead-generation campaigns, Naomi knows how to strategically tell a story to get users to click. By investing heavily in qualitative and quantitative customer research, mastering communication fundamentals, and mercilessly analyzing and optimizing results, she helps SaaS startups get the most out of every dollar they spend on digital marketing.

Connect with Naomi on LinkedIn.

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Read the transcript of the podcast episode

Jeremy Balius: Welcome to this episode of the B2B Tech Marketing Talks podcast, where we engage with leading marketing and channel leaders to get fresh perspectives and practical advice on the latest trends, effective strategies, and best practices for B2B tech marketing. I’m your host, Jeremy Balius. 

Today’s theme is effective buyer personas.

I’m very excited because today I’m joined by Naomi Soman from StoryLogic Consulting. 

Naomi has worked with several hyper growth startups in Tel Aviv, including both Scrappy Series A companies and even a powerful unicorn. Namely monday. com. She focuses on crafting messaging and writing copy for performance marketing teams to consistently improve conversion rates and bring in higher quality leads from social ads to massive ABM driven lead gen campaigns, Naomi knows how to strategically tell a story to get users to click.

This was a fantastic conversation. The way that Naomi approaches buyer personas has given me a lot to reflect on. It’s just so different from what we’ve been told or taught for so long. 

And she’s uncovered or developed this really unique approach to listening to sales conversations and to customers and to CSMs and developing out a way of talking about your prospective buyers.

As real people without the resume list of all of the different demographics and without all of the interests and hobbies and behaviors that are transcribed. Probably irrelevant to the way that you are marketing and selling.

Let me stop there. Let’s get straight into the conversation. 

Hey, Naomi. Thanks so much for coming on the show. Thank you so much for having me. It’s really great to have you on. And I’m really excited to get into the weeds on all things, buyer personas with you today. I think you’re going to bring so much value to our listeners.

When it comes to talking about buyer personas, I’m hoping to start by going into the backgrounds of what everyone thinks of. When we talk about buyer personas could you talk us through what that might be? 

Naomi Soman: Yeah, I think that we still have a really old vision of what buyer personas are. We still think of marketing Mary and what that ends up looking like in real life is. A resume, like a list of maybe the platforms she uses or her demographics, how old she is, how much money she makes.

And we all know that people are so much more complex than their resume. And so what I think we need to do today is really upgrade our version of what we see as a buyer persona and what we used to use. 10, 15 years ago, that was fine, but because the marketing world has become so much more complex, our buyer persona has to really match that level of complexity. 

Jeremy Balius: I really hear what you’re saying. I remember when buyer personas started to get it really popular, maybe in correlation with the rapid growth of HubSpot perhaps, or other MarTech companies were really pushing it And I remember even in my own experience in, in starting to think about having a target persona or a person or somebody who represents whom you’re trying to sell to as pretty novel and and very strategic.

But I think what never really sat well with me is It’s the lengths to which people went to describe this person. What are your thoughts on where that came from? 

Naomi Soman: Exactly. I think that’s the key point. These details are never actually put into YIPS. If you’re selling them sales tech software, why does it matter what kind of coffee they drink? It’s just not relevant. 

But I really do think that the intention was good. The intention was, if we get more specific about this, it’s person then we’ll be able to understand them more how and I think that’s the right intention but I think it’s the wrong way of going about it and the reason is because we are more than the details that make us up example, a lot of times we hear there’s there’s a phrase that I once heard.

No one buys the Wall Street Journal because they went to an Ivy League university, they have a six figure income, and they have two and a half children, right? That’s not why you would buy it. 

You would buy it because it aligns with your values and it fits a specific need in your life. And it helps you solve a certain problem.

And so I think that we should think about. Software in the same way. So I tend to think of buyer personas in terms of the problem that they’re dealing with and the solution that they’re looking for, the version of their life that they are envisioning and maybe some of the things that are holding them back.

So some of the elements of their life that are directly connected to the product or service that you’re trying to sell. And so that makes it much more specific. And that also helps you really envision this buyer walking around in real life. 

Because the point is not to document every detail of their lives.

The point is to get at the core of who they are in connection with what you’re selling. So that you can bring them to life and understand what they might do in different situations. 

Jeremy Balius: It’s so profound what you just said. And I think the profundity for me is coming from the perspective of being and living and breathing marketing and sales for tech and for SaaS companies and and the way that you’ve just articulated it.

The core of a real person, as opposed to a list of descriptions of what interests that person might have I think is pretty fundamental. But what do we do about it? How do we go and create a buyer persona that is effective if that’s not working? 

Naomi Soman: Yeah. I’m glad that you asked, cause I think the actionable part is really the key.

And I think this is where a lot of companies go wrong. So the intention to become detailed is the right intention. And so I take that, but just channel it in a different direction. So instead, what I do is I will often go on to gong. Because most or go into recorded sales calls because most companies have recorded their sales calls, if only for training purposes.

So even if it’s a small company and they’re recording via Zoom, then they will have those recordings on hand, most likely because they need to onboard people. So even if you can’t get in front of customers and interview them, even if you can’t, even if you don’t have a platform like gone because it’s quite expensive for small companies.

Yeah, you’re always going to have recorded sales calls. What I do is I will go into those, and I typically focus on quite heavily on the discovery calls being the first 20 minutes that somebody jumps on a call with a user and ask them where they’re coming from. What’s going on with their life in their life, why they decided to come.

And book a call and that’s where you’re going to get a lot of the juicy details. They’re going to tell you I was waking up in the middle of the night worrying about this problem. 

Or I have a huge backlog of tasks, or I have a huge spreadsheet and I’m trying to track these I’m trying to track these expenses, or I’m trying to track all of my team’s tasks on this spreadsheet.

And there are 17 tabs open, and I have no idea where anything is. Is that I’m looking for. So those are the kind of details that you’re looking for. Those are the kind of details that bring your buyer to life in connection to your product. And so I’ll do that. 

 break it down into three categories because I think that if you overcomplicate buyer personas, then no one’s going to use them.

So it’s better to keep them simple and focused. So I focus on what are their pain points? Can you give me as many examples as possible? And then And what are their, I call them dream state, so that could be a goal, that could be a description of what they want their life to look like. 

And that could be either either a little bit more tangible, like I want to be able to see all of my team’s tasks, or that could be a little bit more emotional, a little bit more abstract, like I want my team to appreciate me, or I want to feel like I have more control over my work.

And those are both valid. That’s actually dream state, it’s a little bit little bit. It encompasses all different kinds of goals and some of the hesitations or fears or doubts that they have about the product or the company that are holding them back from continuing. 

Those are the three categories that I break it into, and then I will document examples of what they say when they’re describing that pain point or that doubt, and then I’ll break those down into categories.

So one might be for example, one kind of doubt might be they’re afraid that their team won’t actually use the product. So I’ll give them categories and then you have a huge database of times when you’re actually expressed the pain point you’re describing. So you can take that, copy and paste it into whatever you’re creating.

That might be a video script, that might be an ad, that might be a pitch or a demo that you’re creating, and then you have the language of the user. And then if you want to, if you’re in a larger company, you can. 

Make that even more complicated and then duplicate that for an enterprise company because you’re going to have, you’re probably going to have the same pain points, but certain pain points are going to be more important than others.

As if you’re comparing it to a small and medium business. So that’s the overarching plan for how I build buyer personas. And I think that it does take a lot of time to go through these discovery calls. 

But it’s very actionable because you can understand who the buyer is on an intrinsic level, but you have their actual words, so you can take those and leverage that in your marketing assets or your sales assets.

Jeremy Balius: I think anything that can be simplified and effective is already the better course. It sounds to me in a way that through this approach of how are our guys actually talking to our prospect. And what are they telling us? 

It sounds to me almost in a way that you’re in your message crafting, uncovering maybe value proposition that potentially hadn’t been articulated by the company.

Could that be fair to say? 

Naomi Soman: Yes, 100%. I think that when a lot of companies, they’ll, when they think about their value propositions, they’ll sit down at a big meeting room and discuss what they think it is. 

But because I’ve worked in more of an acquisition field, I’ve worked with a lot of Google campaigns and LinkedIn campaigns, Facebook campaigns.

I get a lot of data on which messages work and which messages don’t work. And so I’ve seen. that actually be the reverse of what everyone thought it is. So I think the most common example in SaaS is we’re so likely to focus on our wives. 

Say you can make more money. You can save more time, the end far off goals and oftentimes the goals that are more relevant for someone in upper management, somebody in a director level position, a VP level position that’s not actually using the product.

On a regular basis, and they’re also probably not the champion, and they’re probably not the first person to click on the ad and start the buying process, right? 

And so something that’s a little bit closer to their sphere of of influence is going to be something more along the lines of you can get more control over your work.

You can get more visibility into your work. You can have, you can reduce the amount of chaos in your work. And so I find that is oftentimes the case, and that has to do with Getting, also getting a clear sense of who your buyer persona is in terms of seniority. 

Where are they in the organization?

Because there’s always going to be multiple people in that deal, but you have to clarify which one of them you’re talking to at any given time. 

Jeremy Balius: Now in in this messaging and copy and having real time data back from the performance marketing and the ad conversions you’re creating a feedback loop for executives that, that is data-led, but have you encountered scenarios where even the data is saying something, but it’s not what the Is wanting to be heard because maybe it’s lesser than what they believed the value is that they should be standing for as an organization.

Has there been friction in those workshops that, that you’ve been in? 

Naomi Soman: Yeah, for sure. I think this happens a lot of times with startups because startups are oftentimes trying to create a new category and they’re carving out a new. space for themselves. They’re using a new name and they are trying to define themselves against what the market already has.

And then within an acquisition space, a lot of times you’re dealing with keywords. And so if you’re bidding on Google or if you’re doing SEO or you are trying to use the keywords that people have and then create an ad or a landing page based on from those that match the person’s perspective. 

It’s a little bit tricky to figure out how you can capture the demand that already exists, but at the same time, promote a new vision for the company.

So this is a bit abstract. I’ll give you an example at Monday.com, but I do think this is pretty common for a lot of companies. At Monday.com, they are trying to promote this version of a Work OS. That’s the term they’re using a work operating system that it’s more than just a project management tool.

It’s a database and a spreadsheet and a social media platform all wrapped into one and It’s going to be the new platform for work, and that’s great, but if you’re bidding 100,000 on the word project management, then you have to use the word project management in those assets. 

And so it’s a game of figuring out where you can twist the messaging so that it serves both purposes.

So we would use phrases like a project management tool that works for you or build your own project management tool. Or so much more than a project management tool, things like that, that allow you to tap in to the mindset or the framework that people already have and then elevate it because you do want to tap into the knowledge that your users are already familiar with.

You don’t want to throw something completely new at them, especially if you, if they typed in those keywords specifically. But you still want to promote the overarching message. 

And so I think that’s the job of a copywriter to walk that line. And again, I see this over and over again in companies that I work with.

Jeremy Balius: It’s a dance, isn’t it? Trying to juggle how are people searching within a category and how do we want to present ourselves and be seen in that category and speaking to both. I think sometimes takes a little bit of special magic. Is it aside from the negotiation skills that you’ve probably gained by trying to get people to agree to something?

Yeah. To what degree does the buyer persona itself maybe solve some of that? It’s, you’ve got the, you’ve got the three under, you’ve got the three pillars of your persona that you’ve been describing and around how we are categorizing the pain points that they have or face or this or are cognizant of, or aware of and how they’re searching for that.

Is that buyer persona, maybe that is a link in there? I do think, 

Naomi Soman: yeah, I do think that if you if you’re creating a buyer persona the way that I described, then you have a lot of language of the customer themselves. And so you can figure out what kind of messages are aligning with your overall mission statement and plug and play.

And so you can figure out how it is that they describe their problems and describe their goals and make sure that you’re leveraging those. There’s a a concept in psychology called mirroring that you want to mirror back what somebody says to you. People, psychologists use this in therapy to validate people.

You can also use it in like a job interview to show that you understood the question. And by mirroring back the language of the customers, you are much, much more likely to get that click, and I’ve seen this happen over and over again, where the more closely you match the language you’re using in your copy to the language that your customers are using, the more likely they are to convert because they’ll see themselves on the page.

And so if you can find users that are talking about their needs and their goals in a way that really aligns with your overarching mission, then you’re perfect. And. That’s the research process, making sure and also making sure that your overall goals are aligned with your users’ expectations that it fits.

So I think that’s really the key. And I think that’s what helps. Clarify a lot of the messaging rather than having to go through the process of thinking through and brainstorming and negotiating, arguing on what the messaging should be. If you take this buyer persona approach that I use, then you don’t have to, go through the process of thinking of what to say.

You already have a map of what to say and it’s a matter of figuring out how to use that across different platforms. And I also think it’s worth saying that you’re going to have slightly different messages depending on where you are, because again, if you’re on Google, a lot of times you’re capturing demand.

Where if you are creating demand, if you are on creating organic social media content or even YouTube ads or podcasts, more top of the funnel, then you can, you have a lot more liberty to use unique branded terms because you are educating the market on what it is they should expect from your product category.

So I think that you do have to acknowledge that. You are going to speak slightly differently depending on where the person is in their buyer’s journey, right?

Jeremy Balius: Because they’ll be at different points of understanding their pain points or having come to a realization that they have them at all or whether they’re or in what capacity they’re searching for solutions, right?

Copy and the messaging needs to cater for different points of that cycle. 

Naomi Soman: Yeah, a hundred percent. A lot of times I tried to map the. of the buyer’s journey onto the problem and solution. 

So we talk about having stages of awareness and have unaware, they don’t know they have a problem in which case you want to educate them about the category and the use of the product, why it’s important, problem aware, solution aware, product aware, and most aware and so in marketing you’re usually going to deal with organic, I guess you could deal a little bit with unaware. 

But mostly you’re going to deal with problem aware solution aware and product aware and then typically most aware is going to be when they’re in the trial free trial or when they’re having a demo depending on the product and So problem aware, solution aware, product aware, problem aware, you’re going to focus on the problems.

Solution aware, you’re going to focus on those goals. And product aware, you’re going to focus on the specific features that differentiate you from your competitors. And then most aware is when you’re going to really seal the deal. And so I think that if you can map that on to that process, it’s not black and white, of course.

Then you’re going to be able to give the right message to the right person at the right time. 

Jeremy Balius: Yeah, I’ve makes absolute sense. And you’re speaking my language, the, do you see variance, not variance in ads, but a variance in. Performance with ads and copy targeting different points of that journey.

Are there different stages of awareness that, just perform better than others what’s your experience been

Naomi Soman: You mean is there a certain stage that performs best just, yeah, 

Jeremy Balius: Have you found that different stages of awareness just perform better than others? 

Naomi Soman: I think that there, sometimes you can have clearer data on, or there’s more data. There are going to be more people who click on an ad than people who convert on a landing page.

But I also think that data can be a little bit tricky depending on the length of the buyers of the length of the deal cycle. 

Jeremy Balius: Okay. 

Naomi Soman: If you have if you’re in more of a product like growth, when we were at Monday, we had tons and tons of data, but for a lot of more B2B, BB, but for more sales like growth, where you have a product that costs 50,000 and there’s a 6 to 12-month deal cycle, you may not have a ton of data, especially when it comes to the quality of the deals coming through, because you don’t know if they actually turned into a customer until six to 20 months later.

Jeremy Balius: So 

Naomi Soman: I do think that if you’re a larger company and you have the resources to invest in great data infrastructure, then that’s excellent. But otherwise, I say like you, if you can, you, you can, you will have to rely on the data metrics that you have available. And so that’s why some of the earlier top of funnel metrics can be really useful.

I wouldn’t say that they perform better, I would just say that you can get a little bit of data, you can get data more quickly. So if you run six different ads, And you know that people are clicking on one more and they’re at least signing up for a demo in higher numbers, then chances are that’s the message that you want to go with.

Now, is that perfect data? No. In a perfect world, we’d be able to tie that to revenue. Now, if you can do that, great. For a lot of companies, that’s not perfect. It’s not necessarily realistic, but what I encourage people to do is not say, okay we’re not going to use this kind of data to determine our messaging because it’s not perfect.

No, okay, it’s not perfect, but it still gives you a sense of what to look for.

Jeremy Balius: That’s totally clear to me and I understand that distinction. I really like how you distinguish between just because there’s better numbers doesn’t mean it’s necessarily outperforming. It’s a different stage. Producing different types of data.

That makes a lot of sense to me. You are developing personas through the volume of information that has already been captured by an organization going out and talking to prospects.

How would you potentially advise business leaders who either don’t necessarily have that volume of data? Or potentially internally don’t necessarily trust it. In what ways can we find other metrics or other mechanisms to help support us developed by our personas without having that direct access to gong data, for example? 

Naomi Soman: I do think that everyone will have access. So if you have access to at least some sort of customer conversations, if you can have a conversation with a customer or you have a conversation with or you can listen to you can just have your salespeople record the calls that they have on zoom, then you’ll definitely have access to that when it comes to having large amounts of data from paid media that I totally understand.

But again, I think that’s where Facebook ads or LinkedIn ads, if you have, even if you have a small budget and you’re running a few ads. Then you can be really diligent. I call this like testing hygiene, have a really clear sense of what you’re testing when so don’t just test button colors because that’s not going to be helpful, but test.

Okay, we have three or four different messages. And which one are people gravitating towards? Another platform that I like to use is called Lyssna, L Y S N A. It used to be called Usability Hub. And they are, first of all, they’re much, much cheaper than some of the other user testing platforms. Because I know user testing won’t even sell to you if it’s less than a 10, 000 package.

And it’s a great platform, but it’s really geared more towards larger companies. So this this platform called Lyssna, it’ll allow you for a hundred dollars to upload several different, it can be either a video or it can be like the screenshot of the hero section of a page or it can be different ads and you can ask different things.

So I will oftentimes ask I’ll throw up like six ads and I’ll say, which one do you find more compelling? And then I’ll ask people in your own words, what does the solution do? And that’ll tell you two things. First, it’ll tell you which message people are gravitating towards. And then it’ll tell you, did they actually understand what you’re selling from this product?

And honestly, I found that 70. I’m making up a number here, obviously, but like 70 to 80 percent of the time, it’ll give you pretty much the right answer to which kind of message you should try, because the ads that perform well there are going to perform well in real life, and the reason is because you can launch test with 50 people.

And get a sense of, and it’ll show you which people are voting for. And these people are just, they get paid for being testers on the platform. And so they’re pretty much they’re not biased, so that’s a great way and a pretty cheap way, 100 for a test as opposed to 10, 000 a year is a pretty affordable option for a lot of people to get a sense of which messages are working.

Jeremy Balius: Yeah, that’s awesome. I’m not familiar with it. I’ll look it up as well. Are you ever getting involved in whom we don’t want to speak to? The classic term is a negative buyer persona, but is that, does that come up in your world at all? Are you using them proactively? 

Naomi Soman: Yes, there were.

For example, I think in the last company that I worked for before being independent, it was a fintech company, and they wanted to make sure that they were offering net terms, they were offering credit to different customers, it was a B2B payments platform, and they wanted to make sure that the businesses they were serving were reliable, that they weren’t going to be stuck with stuck offering credit to people.

End users that weren’t reliable. And so we actually wanted to disqualify people. And I think that this is not something we talk about all that often in marketing because we just want to say Shove everyone through the funnel. Just sweep them in. 

We want them all and that’s not always the case for certain companies Sometimes you actually want to disqualify people and so a lot of times So I don’t think it necessarily changes the buyer persona I think that you just have to get really clear on What problems that you’re dealing with and who you’re dealing with so you can call out exactly who it is, who it’s for.

You can say this is for project managers or this is for HR leaders. But I would say that when it actually comes to execution, instead of making it easier for people to convert, sometimes they actually want to make it harder for people to convert. So instead of shortening the form, sometimes you want to lengthen the form.

Or you don’t want to have buttons all over the page, you just want to have buttons at the end. So some of the common CRO principles that we’ve been taught, you have to flip that on its head and say, no, actually, we want to make it a little bit more difficult for people to convert. For example There were a series of email campaigns that I ran where actually the longer emails they got slightly fewer leads, but the leads were of significantly higher quality.

That also had to do with the messaging, the shift in messaging that I used. But I think some of it had to do with the fact that we were qualifying kind of customers. It was a lead qualification process within the marketing assets rather than just later on when they get dropped into the CRM.

Jeremy Balius: This is so critical and you’re right. It doesn’t get talked about and it’s so important. Somebody’s got to give those demos and somebody’s got to qualify all this stuff that’s coming through. And someone’s got to nurture these people. 

If you’re just trying to hit a qualified leads number from the marketing side, it’s actually creating problems elsewhere, which carries a time cost or which carries a bottleneck or something else in the business.

And so I think you’re totally right. If we can. If we can qualify the bad fit personas out, the better, it’s really interesting that the longer emails and the longer forms and the lack of buttons led to better outcomes because it’s so counterintuitive to what we’re told or taught or what we hear about or read about.

Naomi Soman: Yeah, exactly. We always hear that you want shorter copy and you want lots of buttons and you want to make it super easy for people to convert. But I think if you look at like a payments platform that really wants to disqualify bad users or irrelevant users or even just an enterprise platform. Like I think even if you look at Salesforce or if you look at even like user testing, I think that you’ll see that they don’t want to make it super, super easy for people to convert.

And that’s how I think when you’re talking about writing copy you want to, you don’t want to just follow the basic golden rules that you’re going to hear touted over and over again. You want to think really carefully about where the person is in the buyer’s journey and what kind of message they need to hear.

And that’s why these. To bring it full circle, that’s why these messaging docs or these FHIR personas that are very detailed and very focused on specifics aren’t that helpful, because it’s not flexible. It’s not flexible enough to adapt to different situations.

Jeremy Balius: Yeah. So that’s interesting to me as well, because it’s also not what, I don’t know, historically we’ve been told as, needing to map out, the details of every nuance of every single aspect of whom this target person is. But it sounds to me the details create inflexibility. Yeah. Tell me about if we are slightly more generalist about how we were describing them, is there a way that they become more memorable and therefore more effective as a result of being more general? 

Naomi Soman: I don’t know if it’s about being general or sort of capturing moments in people’s lives. When you think about a good story, an author will always Show, not tell. And so it’s about capturing sort of Kodak moments in somebody’s life that brings them to life in a way that they can exist in your imagination.

There are certain characters like Harry Potter that sort of just exist in our imagination. And we know, why is there so much fan fiction about the Harry Potter world? Because we know. We know these characters intuitively and where they might go and what they might say or do in certain situations.

And you want to get to that same level, almost like an actor. If you, an actor, when they’re preparing for a role in a movie, they’ll read old letters, and they’ll watch old videotapes, and they’ll look at old photos and interviews to try to figure out who this person was, what did they speak like in this situation?

What did they act like? Give me examples of their life. And to the point where you can internalize that. And I think that comes from looking at specific examples. And that’s why I love the Gong approach. Because you can go and say, okay, how did they describe their pain points? 

So for this payments company, there was an example of somebody had just boxes of checks in their office.

That if they said that if the check was under 2, 000, then they didn’t cash it because they didn’t have the resources on hand to cash those checks. 

So they literally were just leaving money on the table because they didn’t have a streamlined online payments platform. And so I think that’s a really great example of something that somebody would relate to.

Or with Monday, again, it was a spreadsheet with 17 tabs open, or they had sent a Slack message to somebody and that person emailed them, and then they put the information on the project management platform, and then the next person just wrote it down on their notebook, and all of a sudden the information was spread across seven different platforms and no one had Any idea what anyone else was contributing to that project.

Now, I think that’s pretty clear example of something that you might deal with in your everyday life. 

And so you want to find those moments that the user is going to read and say, Oh my God, I deal with this every day. It’s so frustrating. And I think those are the kinds of things that bring. Person to life in a way that it’s not generic.

It feels specific, but it feels relatable. It feels like you could take marketing Mary from a resume on a word doc and see her walking around the office and dealing with her colleagues and understanding her relationships with different colleagues and what she wants to accomplish and what her five year plan is.

Those kinds of details that. Make her from a resume into a real person. 

Jeremy Balius: Okay. So this is where we’re getting into some inspiring stuff. Firstly, this is, I think the first time I’ve ever heard somebody be able to talk about literally leaving money on the table and not figuratively. That’s amazing.

But more so on the persona side, I think what is inspiring here as I’m reflecting on the way that you just. Articulated them as characters is and bringing them to life and making them relatable means that there is the potential for broader usage within an organization, because people internally aren’t being presented to as this is our buyer. 

And then they’ve got this list that they need to grab or that’s just sits on their desk or in a file in a folder buried on their machine. It’s relatable in the sense that I have an internal feeling about who that person is now.

And I can recall that at will without needing to research. Or go back to the research to understand it. I think that’s really powerful. 

Naomi Soman: Yeah, I think that’s 

Jeremy Balius: Getting goosebumps here. 

Naomi Soman: I think that’s really the key because I think the problem with buyer personas today is people don’t use them. And if they’re not being used, then they’re not helpful.

And so the idea is to boil it down to its essence. Figure out the basic components that are going to help people that are most directly tied to your product and then publish those, because if it’s flexible enough for people to use, then they’re actually going to go to use it. 

And so you have to find that balance between okay what is, we don’t want to make this too complicated, but we also want to make it useful and actionable. And I think that’s the problem green state doubt formula combined with the actual voice of the customer from these discovery calls, these interviews, that’s the perfect golden balance. 

Jeremy Balius: So what would you say to marketers in tech and SaaS?

They’ve probably got a Marketing Mary type persona in the business whether it’s being used or not, probably not as you say, but based on what you were just saying, how would you advise them? What, how should they reshape their thinking? 

What should they do first to, to move into a space of having effective personas in their business?

Naomi Soman: So the way that I would advise people is don’t throw out what you already have, but build on top of it, make it easier for people to use. And so go through and give specific examples of what it might look like in this person’s life when they have these pain points. What are the examples? Document them.

Make it more of a story. The reason I think stories are so helpful is because they Help us interpret the information. It’s more digestible. It’s easier for us to understand it and for us to internalize it. Give me, tell me a story about her. What does it look like when she has this pain point? Where is she?

What is she doing? What is her reaction? What are some of the political elements going on? Is she embarrassed that she isn’t getting the kind of results that her boss expects of her? Or is, does she feel like she’s letting her team down? Those are also things to bring in. 

And so I would say take what you have and then build on top of it by drilling down into the specifics, getting their actual words down.

On paper and figuring out what those stories look like in real life. And I think some of the greatest commercials are when you can take that information and replicate it and put it out there. So I would say that and that would be across the board. What are their doubts and concerns? Can you document it?

What does success look like to them? Now, we’re always using get more ROI, get more time back into your schedule. But, I talked to a customer success manager once who said, actually, their goal, because customer success managers know all about what success looks like, it’s in their job title. 

And, She said, actually, what they really want is to be covered in industry publications and be seen as an industry leader.

And that’s something that a marketer probably wouldn’t think of because that’s not top of mind. It’s not something that they’re dealing with, but that was their ultimate goal. 

They wanted to be seen as an innovator in their space. And so I used that in my copy and it did incredibly well. 

So that’s the kind of detail, the kind of nugget that you can get that can take a buyer persona that you already have and just take it to the next level.

I don’t believe in just scrapping things, throwing them out and starting over. I think that it’s just a matter of layering on. And so I think it’s really important to have a lot of detailed details and actionable information that people can take and then run with. 

Jeremy Balius: Naomi, this has been so amazing.

Thank you so much for your insights here. Personally, I’ve got a lot to reflect on based on this conversation because you’re exposing me to a logic that makes sense. It’s just presented in a way that I hadn’t been exposed to yet. 

And I think there’s a lot of listeners as well as in the broader industry that, that would do well to to be thinking about how they can be guided by the way their customers talk and shifting and addressing that with how they articulate their value proposition.

Thanks so much for coming on the show. It’s been a real pleasure. 

Naomi Soman: I’m so glad. Thanks for having me. 

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