Developing rich buyer personas is critical to helping us identify the key people and roles we need to be working with, what they do/how they are measured, the problems they face and so on. These personas are critical as we look at how we engage them with relevance.

But, too often, we treat the buyer personas as “one size fits all.” We assume, for a given persona in a given industry or market, the way they work, the issues they face, and how they work are very similar. Our engagement strategies are the same for each person in the target persona.

The reality is quite different. In our target markets, people with similar titles and personas may be facing profoundly different issues, or have very different business drivers. Unless we have a much deeper understanding of the customer, and of the people, we may be entirely off base in our engagement strategy.

Let’s look at an example, let’s imagine we target high technology companies. Let’s imagine we are targeting product managers, strategist, product development executives. But the concerns and challenges these people face are profoundly different depending on where they participate in the innovation curve

Using Geoffrey Moore’s famous innovation/adoption curves, we can see one dimension of the differences that may exist between organizations in the same industry/markets. As we look at the same personas in technology companies, the concerns of these will be very different based on where the company is positioned. Product managers in companies positioned as innovators face very different issues than those that are positioned in the early majority or later stages. As a result, our personas may be way off, making it more difficult to engage customers with value.

For example, a close friend VP or product strategy and development for a company that is in the late majority of a certain technology market. They are an amazingly successful company, focused on buying end-of-life products and supporting customers of those products. It’s not sexy, it’s not what we typically associate with high technology companies (we usually glamorize companies in the innovator or early adopter stages). But it’s a business model that is very successful and extraordinarily. But the key issues, business strategies, metrics, critical success factors for him are very different than his counterparts in similar Series A technology start ups.

This is just one dimension we have to consider as we look at our Personas and how we effectively engage them.

Personas are critical in focusing our engagement strategies, but they are just a starting point. We have to go far deeper in our characterization to maximize our impact and ability to engage and create value with them.