Customer Focused is not Market-Driven

By Adele Revella August 13, 2007

I polled my audience during a recent webinar, asking the attendees to choose the statement that best describes their company:

We are sales driven
We are development/engineering driven
We are working towards being market-driven
We are market-driven

Surprisingly, 24% said that they work in market-driven companies. Call me cynical, but I doubt it. I'm betting that most of these companies are actually customer-driven, an excellent format for the sales and post-sales aspects of the business when you need to satisfy the objectives of a single account. But allow one or even a selected group of customers to guide the roadmap for your product and don’t be surprised if a big part of the market doesn’t buy it. Base your marketing strategy on feedback from current customers and chances are good that you'll miss a larger, more receptive group of buyers. Try to gain support for a new strategy in a customer-driven company, and someone will point to a customer scenario that invalidates your plan.

Marketers need to get the company focused on the market, not a few customers. Start your next meeting by introducing your stakeholders to your buyer persona. Build agreement about the details of the persona before you move on to the strategic decisions. If the group gets stuck, bring the conversation back to the persona, the only individual whose opinion matters in a market-driven company.

Let’s say that your target audience is the CIO, and everyone in your company agrees that you want to reach people who hold this title. But you still participate in endless debates as internal stakeholders propose messages and strategies based on their varying opinions.

Rather than adding your opinion to this chaos, why not hold a meeting to evaluate the CIO persona, creating a fictitious person that is populated with as much insight and detail as you would have about a close friend. Try to get past the obvious demographic data, developing a story that allows everyone to anticipate the target buyer's reaction to various words and strategies. Now you have a focal point for a useful discussion about go-to-market strategies.

If you want to work in a market-driven company, grok your buyer personas and lead the way.

Learn how to make your company market-driven.  Attend a Pragmatic Institute course today!

Categories: Leadership Go-to-Market Personas
Adele Revella

Adele Revella

Adele Revella is CEO of Buyer Persona Institute and author of Buyer Personas: How to Gain Insight into Your Customer’s Expectations, Align your Marketing Strategies, and Win More Business (Wiley 2015), named a Top 5 Business Book by Fortune magazine. Adele’s unique perspective derives from decades of experience as a sales and marketing executive, trainer, researcher and entrepreneur. Learn more at, follow her on Twitter at @buyerpersona or connect with her on LinkedIn at

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