I'm sitting on a stark metal folding chair. There's a sole bright light bulb glaring overhead. Out of the shadows walks a man in an Armani suit and $400 sunglasses. He stares at me. "Ok - I've just about lost my patience. Talk. Don't hold anything back. I'll know if you're lying."
I squirm uncomfortably in my chair, but keep my mouth shut.
"If you don't start spilling the beans - this could get ugly. I'm just about out of patience here. For the last time - tell me - how do you create personas?"
I stare at the marketer in front of me. I hear movement in the shadows. He's not alone. There are other marketers and business owners in the room. I can hear their Blackberries going off in the darkness. They're all waiting to hear confidential information that will tell them how to create personas. They know if they can get this information, they'll be able to create marketing campaigns that will leave their competition in the dust and catapult their careers and reputations. If they can just get the secret formula.
"Well, um," I start. "I can't show you exactly how we create personas. We use special software and charge clients 10's of thousands, even hundreds of thousands of dollars for direct access to our tool and our knowledge."
The crowd grows more menacing.
"But wait! I can tell you how to segment your audience by personality type and where they are in the buying process." This prompts a few interested murmurs. "We can talk about what questions personas ask. I'll tell you about how to make your personas more real using demographics, psychographics and topographics." I feel myself sweating.
"That's a start. What else?" asks the leader in the dark glasses. I think I smell a Cosmopolitan on his breath.
"Well - I can show you how to do uncovery - how and where to gather the most important information on your customers so you can really get to know them, their needs, and their motivations." I've got their attention now.
"I'll show you how to write persuasive online copy - how to write to your different personas so you can speak each persona's language and persuade them to take the actions you want them to take."
"And???" Dark glasses prompts.
"And how about this - we'll even create a set of personas together so you can get an idea of how it's done and even participate."
My Madison Avenue captor smiles for the first time.
"Excellent" He says. "Name the time and date and we'll be there."
Holly Buchanan is VP for Client Services at Future Now, Inc.