George Zimmerman, Trayvon Martin, Personas and Sales

Today's my first day back from our family vacation at GRB. I haven't thought much about sales, marketing or business since July 11th except for an exchange with Carole Mahoney and as I've become used to, the world kept going without me. A witness in the Whitey Bulger case was found dead. Hubspot continues to pitch the final days of discount pricing for Inbound. I'm sure that you know way more about world and local events than I do. So, let me get to my point.

There's so much written about developing personas of your customers that I'm gonna assume that you've read enough and don't need a reference link. (If you do, contact me.) However, something has bugged me about personas and their use and it didn't crystallize until the verdict came in and the aftermath ensued around George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin.

I recently looked at a persona description. It was 4 pages long with over 100 traits listed. This has been my objection to personas in the past. If you wanted to determine whether or not I fit one of your personas, you would have to do one of two things. Keep me engaged long enough to check off all 100 traits and hope that there wasn't 101st that mattered or you would identify some matches and assume that I had the rest of the traits of the persona. Here's where I get offensive. That is exactly how racial profiling works.

Yankees   Red SoxRemember right after 9/11 how many innocent Middle Easterners were harassed because we were concerned that they were terrorists? How about a Harvard Professor being arrested because he was black? How about Anti-Italianism? Do you think that any Red Sox fans instinctively profile Yankees fans?

Clearly, I wasn't on the scene, but Zimmerman saw a black teenage boy, wearing a hoodie, with his hands in his pockets and started checking off the traits of a persona. Apparently, the members of the jury thought that he checked off enough traits.

And that is my concern with your personas. That you might jump to conclusions and assume a match. Every major police department has a SWAT team. They also have a negotiator. Do you lead with your SWAT team (the closer) or your negotiator (the salesperson)?

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