Multichannel Marketing Issues, Part 2

Part one of this series discussed how persona use can overcome the challenges that come with multichannel marketing and help companies maximize their persuasive efforts. I outlined three specific ways to use personas across selling and marketing channels:

  • Interact with personas, their needs, and motivations, and uncover new selling opportunities. Learn how, when, and why they shop and make decisions in your category.

  • Walk through all the channels and touch points with the personas to ensure a great, consistent experience.
  • Write and speak to personas’ goals and motivations to keep messaging consistent company-wide.

Now, let’s dig deeper for some real-world tactical implementation of persona use. To do that, let’s meet Jill, a persona created for Best Buy:

“Jill”[is a] codename for a soccer-mom type who is the main shopper for the family but usually avoids electronics stores. She is well-educated and usually very confident, but she is intimidated by the products at Best Buy and the store clerks who spout words like gigabytes and megapixels.

Interacting With Personas

The best personas evoke empathy. By interacting with the persona, a team can focus on and start to draw out customers’ needs and motivations they’d otherwise have missed.

Jill is motivated by caring for and pleasing her family, but she needs a less intimidating experience when she buys appliances or electronics for her home and family. She needs to feel as if she has a friend along when she shops for electronics.

This may sound like a no-brainer, but even such high-level, simplistic empathy for customers is sparse in companies that target demographics. Knowing Jill’s age, gender, ethnicity, and income tells you very little about how or why she buys.

From just these two observations about the Jill persona, Best Buy can ask better questions and start to get practical and tactical:

  • Does Jill know we carry toys?

  • How will Jill know what toy or game is best for her kids?
  • Would Jill know, or even care, about the different types of TVs we carry? How can we help her find what she needs without her feeling like she needs a technical degree?
  • How does Jill want to buy appliances?
  • What intimidates Jill about electronics?
  • What will make Jill’s trip to Best Buy or more productive and less intimidating?

Walk Through Jill’s Channels

Now that we know who Jill is and what she needs, we can identify shortfalls and opportunities to make sure she gets what she needs and to find ways to delight her.

Holly Buchanan, our VP of client services, observes on her blog how addresses Jill’s needs as she shops for a TV:

We know Jill is intimidated by electronics, so she’s going to want to gain some more knowledge before she goes in the store so she won’t feel stupid in front of the sales guy, and will have more confidence in her purchase decision.

So, on the left hand navigation Jill sees Electronics and under it Televisions. She clicks on this and lands on the Televisions landing page. She can Shop By Category — let’s see HDTVs, Flat-Panel Televisions, Projection Televisions, Combo Televisions — YIKES…. But wait — look up there — a link that says Shopping Assistants — perfect!… She clicks on this link and lands on a page that looks promising at first.

“In search of that great digital camera, TV or PC? Not sure where to start when there are so many to choose from? The Shopping Assistants will narrow the field!”

Offline, Best Buy addresses Jill by making kid-oriented brand displays more prominent. As she walks in she can see names such as SpongeBob SquarePants and The Incredibles. The music is a little softer, and in certain stores Jill will be approached by a personal shopping assistant clad in a less-intimidating pastel uniform, a “friend” who can help her navigate her way through the store and make her feel safe. If it’s raining outside, an assistant with an umbrella will escort her to her car.

If you can’t put yourself inside Jill’s world (and by proxy, all the customers she represents), your company can never seize the opportunity to sell her the way she needs to be sold or find ways to delight her, get her to smile, and create an experience that gets her coming back and spending more.

Relevant Messaging

Best Buy could do a more effective job of messaging to Jill across her touch points. We saw a few remnants of Jill messaging on the Web site. On the Kids’ Electronics page, we read: “Stocked with Barbie, Bratz, SpongeBob, and more, this is the place to find the kid-approved products associated with some of the most popular kids’ shows and stars.”

There’s a picture on this week’s Best Buy weekly ad of an associate talking with an enthused female. There are a lot of opportunities Best Buy is probably missing by not making a relevant appeal to Jill in its ad messages.

Here are a few high-level messages Best Buy could use for Jill:

  • Hassle- and fear-free electronics shopping

  • We speak English, not Tech
  • We make electronics easy
  • Tech-talk-free zones available
  • Kids can play while you shop


Persona usage can set off positive seismic changes in a company when the business can move beyond design and usability and use them for business process improvements. Proper use of effective personas helps you see your company and products through your customers eyes.

Do you know what your customers are seeing? Let me know.

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