Why are COOs the forgotten B2B marketing target persona?

COO personas
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As a journalist and content marketer I’ve had to write material for a lot of people in IT roles, as well as those in marketing like the CMO. I even have one client who focuses entirely on the CFO position. COOs, not so much.
Not at all, actually. Like, ever.
In fact, I can’t even remember coming across a single marketing campaign that was specifically aimed at COOs. Or a white paper. Or a webinar. I’m sure they exist, but I suspect they are more industry or operations-specific than role-specific. As I wrote in my recent editor’s note, this is not a job that is particularly common or well-defined.
That said, it may be a mistake to skip over the COO entirely as we think through the kinds of personas that are typically developed by B2B firms.
Think about all the software-as-a-service (SaaS) tools that are being offered to help with things like productivity, operational efficiency and the like. Maybe the target persona for those is the CIO, or whoever represents the final purchasing decision within the line of business. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it might also make sense to keep a “COO scenario” in mind.
Here’s what I mean: COOs can in many ways be the true change agents in an organization, even if the change they’re trying to make was dictated by the CEO. It’s probably safe to say COOs are put in their roles because that change or changes have a particular degree of importance or urgency.
If that’s the case, the COO persona may evaluate those purchases differently than if they were still in a technology, marketing or finance role. They might be thinking more cross-functionally, for instance. They might see a greater value in a metric that otherwise comes further down the list for the rest of the buying committee. They may also have a different degree of power within that buying committee, or even access to a different set of budget dollars.
Even if no two COOs are exactly alike, I suspect there are a number of common COO scenarios — scenarios where a COO is trying to get everyone aligned around a corporate strategy, or trying to reorganize resources to pursue a new business model. This may not require fully fleshed out personas, but they should be factored into the marketing plan. When you’re trying to gain a new customer, the reaction to coming across a COO should never be, “Uh-oh.”
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Shane Schick
Shane Schick is the Editor-in-Chief of B2B News Network. He is the former Editor-in-Chief of Marketing magazine and has also been Vice-President, Content & Community (Editor-in-Chief), at IT World Canada, a technology columnist with the Globe and Mail and was the founding editor of ITBusiness.ca. Shane has been recognized for journalistic excellence by the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance and the Canadian Online Publishing Awards.