246. Your “Customer Personas”

Forthcoming Book Nails “Customer Personas” for Distributors

This is my second blog inspired by Susan Merlo’s insightful, forthcoming book on: Digital Sales and Marketing for Distributors. Do: check out my last blog and Susan’s website where you can register for notification of the books release.

And, for generic background information on “customer persona”, see Wikipedia.

Victoria’s Secret, Cybill Shepherd and Me

In 1983, Leslie Wexner bought the five Victoria’s Secret stores in San Francisco. He switched the pitch from: selling what women wanted from men shoppers – to – what women wanted to buy for themselves. He pioneered rapid, supply-chain production of knock-off ideas. And, to maximize speed-to-market with very-focused marketing decisions, his mission statement was: to design a store where Cybill Shepherd would love to shop for lingerie”. Sales soared by targeting an audience guided only by Cybill’s persona.

I also bought a company in 1983: a $7MM security hardware distributor. Here’s how I adapted Wexner’s Cybill-idea to my turnaround. I:

  1. Did a customer profitability ranking report
  2. Sorted the top 30+ (out of 3000 active accounts) into different segments.
  3. Identified the #1 most, net-profitable segment.
  4. Visited the 5 most progressive customers in the niche to ask: “What do we and our competitors do that upsets you, slows you down, etc.”
  5. Discerned 8 service metrics that would give them – “to die for” – service value.
  6. Put pictures of the 5 best customers and 5 best, target accounts (all in the target niche) on the wall. Everyone had to know them by heart and do “heroic extras” for them.
  7. Declared that we were going to invent better ways to – measure, achieve, sell and get rewarded- for the 8 metrics. And, detailed how everyone would gain pride and higher wages.
  8. I enlisted the 5 customers to be advisors for everything we subsequently invented.
  9. We then dominated one niche at a time.
  10. The full story is within my “Core Renewal Roadmap” at merrifieldact2.com

Susan’s Book Takes Personas To the “Next Level”   

B2B customer buying has been zoomified by the pandemic. New selling models with digital sales and marketing are imperatives. Because of radical, digital, product information and search engines, the art and science of persona development vastly exceeds my simple Cybill-adaptation back in ’83.

Susan’s distributor case studies illustrate how to refine standard channel segments into actionable personas that will make  marketing collateral and decisions more effective.