B2B Growth: Your Daily B2B Marketing Podcast
B2B Growth: Your Daily B2B Marketing Podcast

Episode 1651 · 6 months ago

Polish Your Buyer Personas with Vanessa Dreifuss

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

In this episode, Benji interviews Vanessa Dreifuss, the VP of product and marketing at Unito.

The conversation breaks down the power of a focused I.C.P and how to get there. Vanessa shares how using analysis, synthesis, and definition can lock in your persona and cultivate company-wide alignment and momentum.

Conversations from the front lines of marketing. This is be tob growth. Hello and welcome into be to be growth. I'm your host, Benjie Block, and today we're thrilled to be joined by Vanessa dry fist. Vanessa, welcome into the show. I happy to be here. We're glad to have you, Vanessa. So you are the VP of product and marketing at you need o. That spans two major parts of the company, right, both product and marketing. So give me a little context as to to what you do, Vanessa. Sure. So I had both sides of the organization, Product Management and marketing. Product management don't also includes product design, and on the marketing side we have a digital marketing and a product marketing team. Fantastic. So you posted on Linkedin recently around user and buyer personas and you shared some of your findings after having done really some significant work over the last what year or so? Is that right? Yeah, what was your your team focused on over the past like twelve months or so? So there were two major initiatives that were focused on in the team. The first one is to prioritize the integrations that will build. We're a code integration platform, and so we needed to understand who we were going to integrate and what was their market like. It's a huge undertaking when you think of the Plethora of SAS out there. It's quite fragmented and cluttered at the same time. Yep. And then the second big initiative was to redesign our product experience to make it more in line with new customer expectations, make it as intuitive as possible for non developers. And it's a hard problem to address since our product is quite technical. Hm. And so in order to do that correctly, the first step for both those major initiatives was really to define, or redefine, should I say, our personas. Yep, okay, so tell me where you started, like, give me context. What were your personas twelve months ago? Where was that starting place? So we used to have, or we still have in a way, a segment that was quite technical, typically developers, and in order to grow we needed to address a bigger market, and so it entailed having tech savvy customers but that are not technical and their business first, right, and so this meant again pivot on the audience we were going to target, and so we rethought are our personas. Thankfully, our buyer and user personas are the same, because we're a clad yeah, so this helps...

...in the work to be undertaken and we are also quite lucky because we have a lot of data at hand. So most of the work was about centralizing the data, analyzing it, synthesizing insights, crafting the personas and then distributing its internally so that we could all align in different teams, across different teams and across different initiatives around those two personas. So we'll dive pretty deep into the personas here in a second, but I'd love to hear because you guys being product led. That was actually a shift as well. Correct. Yeah, in a way, maybe we were product lad, but not not assuming it. Okay, and now we've decided that we wanted to align all functions that way, and this meant again to rethink the jobs to be done, because the first thing is to understand who we're talking to right who? Who is our ideal audience and what pain points we want to solve, and then once that's well defined, it's quite easy to transition to, you know, jobs to be done on the product side, to valid to derive value propositions, to train customer facing teams, etc. But it has to start from a place of knowledge. On whose our audience. Talking on persona specifically. What's the time frame that you guys, we're looking at to try to lock in the the persona us? So it took US six weeks. So in a way it's long, but it's also short. It was six weeks dedicated to the project. So it's a lot of it's a lot of work from multiple people. We've involved a lot of different teams along the way. But then again, this became the foundation for everything else, so the time was really worth it. Like I said, a lot of the research was done on the data gathering side, so we we could make that extra push to make it into six weeks to feed everything else. I think it's actually quite nice to time box the process so that it doesn't drag on forever and it creates momentum inside the organization. I've seen these processes go on forever and I think this time around we did it quite well. It feels like a process that could go on forever, right, because you could get really nitpicky and you could just try to continually like hone it and over time you'll see the ICP evolve and you want to go back to it and and maybe shift little things. But I like that you guys had that time block and one after it and we'll talk about maybe some of the data that you had before, because it sounds like obviously you had to pull that in before the six weeks started. Tell me who you're consulting in this time? What voices are are shaping the ICP? So essentially it's anybody who touches the stomer right, so...

...sales ce US, product managers who are doing user interviews, the marketers who are doing case study interviews. We also involved data because they have first party data from our product and there's a lot of quantitative information that we could gather from there. And everyone has their own facets of the customer, but it's really the sum that makes it complete, and so we involved everyone in different shapes and forms. I'd say sometimes it was in workshops, sometimes it was an interviews. We also did surveys internally, but all in all I'd say sixty percent of the company was somehow involved in the process. Okay, and you land on two personas. So I wonder how you drilled down on on those two specifically. Like no, more, no less. Why did you feel like to was the right number? We didn't decide on to from the beginning, but we realized along the way that first and made sense and secondly, we wanted to ruthlessly prioritize the people we we want it to attract and we wanted to characterize through the the persona. We also think that too is a number where people can understand deeply what they mean. When you have too many you have a very shallow understanding of them and then they were not meaningful anymore and you can't really do anything from them. So I think in the and again this to begin with, this is a nice starting place and I do realize that actually in the company multiple teams are using them. For example, a new hire was mentioning that they were trained on the personas during their onboarding process, and so that one foundation does does feed in multiple places in the company. So I think too, is a good number. I would agree. I think, man, once you get anywhere beyond three it's so hard because there's some of those personas that you're probably just not interacting with often enough for it to even be on your radar. So I love that you guys kept it simple there. I'll read a portion here of what you wrote on Linkedin. You said it's important to be as methodical as possible while doing the analysis, synthesis and definition. That's what guarantees that everyone in the company, including future hires, which you just mentioned right, will trust what has been defined. So expand on that a bit for me. What's the trust that has been built because of this process? So from past lives I've heard, oh, that's the marketing persona, that's the product product persona, that's the ICP, and essentially everyone uses different characteristics to align their initiatives to personas. What this means is that it creates misalignments in the company and it's also highly unproductive because you do the process multiple times to define all of that right,...

...the research, the definition, the distribution. However, if your methodical, you define the process and you share the process ahead of time and people understand what you're doing and who you're involving. Like I said, you know multiple teams along the way, then first off, everyone feels that they contributed to the outcome, but they also feel like the output reflects reality and it's not biased by the individuals who you you know did it in a bubble, and so that's what I mean by trust. It means that you do think it's reflective of reality and you do want to use it because of that. Hey everyone, emily brady with sweet fish here. If you've been listening to be to be growth for a while, you know we are big proponents of putting out original, organic content on Linkedin. But one thing that has always been a struggle for it seemed like ours, is easily tracking the reach of that linkedin content. That is why we are really excited about shield analytics. Since our team started using shield, we've been able to easily track the reaching performance of our linkedin content without having to manually log it ourselves. It automatically creates reports and generates dash boards that are incredibly useful to determining things like what content has been performing the best, what days of the week we're getting the most engagement and our average fuse. proposed. Shield has been a game changer for our entire team's productivity and performance on linked in. I highly suggest checking out this tool. If you're publishing content on Linkedin for yourself or your company. You can get a ten day free try shot shield up dot AI, or you can get a twenty five percent discount with our Promo Code. Be To be growth. Again, that shield up dot ai and the Promo Code is be the numbers to be gross. All One word for a twenty five percent discount. All right, let's get back to the show. And then with new higher specifically, you gave a good example of a where that ICP was taught in the onboarding process, but I'm assuming also some could come in with fresh eyes and they could go well, this might not be like maybe the ICP is off or wrong or they have questions, and this because you've taken so much time on it to really lock it in. You feel like that it helps with new hires too. Yeah, it does. So first off, we've documented the whole process and the insights at every step of the way. So if they want to unpack, you know the end result. It's extremely easy to backtrack from there and I think it's actually useful when you're on boarding to do that. If you do, if you have the time to do that, it's quite interesting to do so. And if they want to challenge it, I mean that's fine as well, and then it leads to a productive conversation in the end. Like you said, you know, they're not locked. The personas have to evolve. Our customers set evolves. So will iterate along the way and what we want is for that feedback loop to be ongoing with everyone in the organization Nice. So you have analysis, synthesis, definition. We brought up data earlier which falls in that analysis kind of phase. Walk me through some of what that looked like leading up to the six weeks. So essentially, what we did is we took an extract...

...of our serum and looked at the customers that converted on higher tier plans and we looked at different data points, meaning their demographic, their fremographic, their technographic, product engagement, product type of usage, and this led to a very detailed actually view of who our customers are and surprisingly enough, it was very clustered, so it was not too complicated in a way to synthesize the insights. But what was missing was the qualitative information, the background, the stories, because this is, you know, people working in tech in that company between five fifty two, five hundred employees, and you know it's dry. You can't relate to that that well. And so that's why also having then interviews with customer facing teams or with the again, the people who do user interviews provide a richness right to the data that you have and that then you can refine the persona so that they're they're real and you can also connect with them in an empathize with them, and that's a big part of that synthesis piece right is to just take the data and now we're going to make it more personal. What's your favorite part in this process, when synthesis is starting to actually happen in your to really see this kind of honed in? Talk me through you know what you're feeling there. I have user interviews just generally speaking, I feel like I can relate to customers. They have real pain, they have real needs. It's not, you know, theoretical stuff you just writes on your slides, and so I find that it's the moment I like best. I also feel like I imagine a lot of solutions during those movements and I really encourage everyone to speak to customers as much as possible, not always directly, but at least listen to conversation from sales or again, from user interviews, because you have a wealth of information when you're sitting there that you don't get if you're just you know, if you read the transcript. Yeah, I wonder with your experience in product and marketing and now going through this process, like how do you feel your jobs on product and marketing side helped inform this process? Like what did you learn in it that makes you better in product and marketing? I think my main takeaway is that when you go through that process you connect also with people internally and being part of leadership, you sometimes are removed from certain teams, are from Sind certain individual contributors, and in a way we got to bring storm together and to...

...think of solutions together and that was really cool. Yep, so, okay, many listeners are going to have personas, but those personas may not be in front of their teams all the time or as often as maybe they should be. Maybe they're not at full effect right and so they don't inform conversations properly. You've done some pretty creative things to keep this in front of your team. What has that looked like? So on the creative thing side of things, you're probably alluding to the workshop that I talked about. We're doing an off site. We decided to form teams and to pick one persona and illustrate it. And so those teams looked back on the detailed personas and then they illustrated. So they had big canvas, they had paint markers, stiggers, glitter. It was fun, it was Super Quirky. That's people were making also analogies with other people in the organization. So then you start to reconnect, you know, with those personas and now the arts is in the office. So we see it every day. I love that. Are there any other ways that you now think about the personas or have them in front of people or maybe revisit it in a conversation to just kind of keep it in front? Yeah, so the first thing is when we did this big exercise, part of the distribution plan was to do training. So we've done that foundational training with customer facing teams, with marketing teams, with product management, product design, and that exists now for all new hires as well. But we also try to have frequent small touch points or have it frequently in people's faces. For example, we have it in our brief template what personas we're going to address through the the brief, and that way, every time a product manager or product marketer rights the brief, they know immediately what is audience that they want to target and the persona that it relates to. I like that. So then, on the evolution of these moving forward. Now for you, Vanessa, what do you how often are you revisiting this? Is there someone or a team of people that go back and look and adjust? Tell me a little bit about how you see this evolving from here. It's quite organic, it'd say. What we realized is that there was an evolution on one out of the two, and so in December and January we actually did further research on that second profile and we updated it last week. Oh Nice. So I don't like there's no cadence, but we do have a cadence of feedback loops with their customer facing teams, and I think they're like the first sounding board to provide feedback whether we should iterate on anything,...

...and I guess we'll try to stay tuched close to them to be able to address that. Let me ask you, if you don't mind sharing, like was it a small shift last week or what? What kind of are you revisiting and seeing in the data? Yeah, you realize that we were we were too broad with the the persona, and so it made it sort of I'm specific, and we have more data points now on, you know, the tool stack that the persona uses, the rolls or the sub rolls, you know, if you look at bigger functions, and so we've addressed this, we've refined their pain points. So it wasn't a hundred and eighty degree shift from where we were, but we've made twenty percent improvement, let's just say, on the persona. I like that and I like that it's fresh kind of in your mind, something that you guys are doing right now, because I think that's sort of the challenge of this episode right go take a look and maybe look at some of the data and continue to evolve. When you think of this whole process. was there any challenges or maybe tips for people that will go through what you guys just have over the last year or so, things to, I don't know, avoid or watch out for in this whole process? Yeah, so I think I've touched on that. But try to include more doable teams, but not everyone either, because it can become quite disruptive. So who's the best representative in each team to participates in the process and these super clear on what are going to be the steps, how they were going to be involved, how much time it's going to take, and that way people are happy to participate and the understand what's the the outcome. I think that that's a big one. And the second one is, like I said, be organized and be thorough, because people will ask how you came up with the outputs. So you need to be able to back up what you claim, just like anything. So if you do it along the way, it's not that much work and then you know you don't have to go back to the output and then just backtrack from there. Otherwise it's it's a lot of work to do. Yeah, it's good. I think the main thing that I'm taking away from our conversation is that just the basic idea of like analysis, synthesis, definition, the quality of each of those parts of the process really seem to inform what you guys did and is made it very successful. I love the evolution process. That something you're still defining and and seeing progress in and getting more honed in on one of those ICP's. That's that's crucial. And then I love the idea of just a workshop. I love how corky that is and glitter and just trying to make it something fun and accessible. Having it posted up in the office right it's...

...a way that people see it, can reference back to it, and that's a fun jumping off point. So, Vanessa, for those that want to stay connected to you and what you guys are doing, give us a brief rundown on the company, the work you do, and then maybe we're to connect with you online. Sure. So, you need as a no code integration platform. We connect apps so that you can build work flows in just a few minutes. You can found us on you need o Dot Ioh and my linkedin is Vanessa Dreyfuss Dreif you S S, it's actually quite complicated, you will get it wrong. That's fine. Rewind this episode fifteen seconds so you can hear spell it again. But we're we really enjoy having you on, Vanessa, thanks so much for being on this episode of VB growth. I'm super happy to have participated. Thank you for hosting me. Absolutely so. We're always having these types of conversations here on the show. If you've yet to subscribe, do that now on whatever platform you're listening to this on, and, hey, you can connect with me as well. On linkedin, just search Benji Block, and I'm always talking marketing, business or life and would love to chat with you over there. Keep doing work that matters and will be a back real soon with another episode. We're always excited to have conversations with leaders on the front lines of marketing. If there's a marketing director or a chief marketing officer that you think we need to have on the show, reach out email me, Beng dot block at Sweet Fish Mediacom. I look forward to hearing from you.

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