Too often we sit in meetings making assumptions about our customers. Simple Sally lives in Cape Town South Africa. She‘s in her thirties and earns an average salary. Using data and statistics that are too broad or inaccurate rarely reveal the consumer insights we need to market our products successfully. As a result our marketing campaigns and content are too non-specific and fail to land – if we don’t understand our customers’ needs and wants, how can we possibly show them how our product or service answers these? Inevitably we also have to raise our marketing budgets, because the reach net we cast is much wider than it needs to be.

Creating a successful buyer persona helps us develop consumer purchase paths. Consumer purchase paths help us determine which platforms we need to market on, as well as the content we need to share on them. So getting the buyer persona wrong has a knock-on effect in the entire marketing ecosystem.


One of my longest standing clients is The ADD Lab – South Africa’s leading Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) specialists. The medical practice diagnoses ADD and ADHD through the use of a QEEG and offer brain-based therapies such as Biofeedback, Tomatis Method, and Interactive Metronome following a successful diagnosis.

Instead of relying purely on analytics data from their website to build a buyer persona for the business, I asked four different stakeholders in the business to answer a set of key persona building questions, which would help build a persona based on real people and interactions, not assumptions. The four stakeholders were:

– The founder of the business
– The business manager
– The receptionist
– One therapist


After interpreting all the stakeholders’ answers patterns and trends helped compile The ADD Lab’s ideal buyer persona:

  • – Female mother, between the ages of 37 and 48.
  • – Her child’s school usually triggers her to start looking for help for her child.
  • – She first sees a doctor, then a physio, OT, speech therapist and educational psychologist before hearing about The ADD Lab from a friend or family member.
  • – She’s also done a significant amount of research on Google regarding available therapies.
  • – By the time she gets to The ADD Lab she has spent a significant amount of money, but isn’t closer to finding a solution for her child’s problem.
  • – The answerless journey combined with the skepticism from her husband makes her desperate for answers. It also places a lot of pressure on the entire family unit.
  • – Her need for constant reassurance and communication makes her come across as needy.
  • – She is very involved and needs constant communication regarding her child’s progress.
  • – The biggest ah-ha moment happens when results are shared from the QEEG.
  • – She is on Facebook.


  • – It was interesting to note that all four stakeholders pointed out that parents do a significant amount of research about available therapies on Google, but still choose to follow the ‘traditional’ route of diagnoses to treatment (Doctor, physio, OT, speech therapist and educational psychologist.) This highlights a need for the business to be present when the problem is first identified by the school, before the research begins. A school or teacher awareness programme could aid in building brand awareness.
    – The constant need for reassurance and communication highlights an opportunity for The ADD Lab to invest in content that supports the mom or to perhaps build a support group of sorts through the likes of Facebook.
  • – There was a significant amount of focus on the QEEG (diagnosis tool) and very little to no focus on the therapies available at The ADD Lab. This over focus could indicate that there is some difficulty upselling and cross selling of therapies that follow diagnosis.
  • – When comparing the buyer persona to analytics data from the website, demographics were a match.
  • – The need to research and develop the persona’s path to purchase is evident. This will allow The ADD Lab to identify more opportunities to connect with their clients which will in turn drive content themes and topics.
  • – A special keyword campaign focused on teachers and schools needs to include more than ADHD schools and ADD in class, ADD teacher help, ADD school, remedial school, ADD teacher tips, ADD classroom tips, parent teacher ADD.

The buyer persona development process didn’t only reveal The ADD Lab’s ideal persona. It also delivered unique insights that can now be used to drive other parts of their marketing effort.


A week or so before I started the Digital and Social Media Marketing Course at iversity a friend of mine asked me why I was doing it. After all, I’ve been working in this field for more than ten years. The answer was instant – I need to stay on top of my game. Digital and social media consumers, platforms and products are evolving at such a rapid rate, and I for one don’t want to get caught with my digital pants down.

So here it goes. My first assignment – 5 MUST-HAVES FOR A DIGITAL MARKETING STRATEGY


1. Have an actual strategy. (Not in your brain. On paper)
As a content strategist, I’m often approached by clients who have been in the marketing game for a while. Their marketing arsenal usually include a website, newsletter marketing, a (mostly abandoned) social media page and some PPC (Google Adwords) advertising. My first task? To find out why all the marketing isn’t working as well as it’s supposed to. How do I do this? Well I start with a very simple question. Do you have a strategy? On the odd occasion the client does have a strategy in place, but on most occasions, they don’t.

Why should you have a strategy in place:

  • – Strategy is the fundamental blueprint that will drive your business’s marketing.
    – If you a have a strategy your peers and employees have something to rally around. They know what they’re working towards.
    – It’s the only way to vet future marketing efforts and plans.
  • 2. An internal analyses
    In marketing, we tend to focus a lot on what we’re doing and achieving externally. Very rarely do we stop and ask, are we as a business ready for this? Do we have the right people in place, what processes do we have in place, do our employees buy into our marketing campaign and do they know how to convert that valuable lead into a paying customer? If your business is healthy on the inside, you’ll be healthy on the outside.


3. SMART objectives
Your strategic objectives need to be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely. But feel free to apply these five criteria to smaller tasks. A blog post, a staff meeting or a newsletter burst. The outcome will definitely have more substance than those who have been assigned a few random KPIs.


4. Digital maturity model

Digital Maturity Model
Source: University of Salford. Salford Business School

The model shows the different phases a business goes through as it grows digitally. I find this model particularly interesting, because social media only starts to features on level two, the engagement level. It’s perhaps one of the reasons why we see so many social media profiles abandoned by companies who thought they would “do social media first because it’s free.” Without the foundation phases it simply collapses.


5. Consumer journey
Another thing we tend to do is focus on what our business has to say and offer. We don’t spend enough time in our customers’ shoes. A consumer journey helps you plot the path to purchase for your ideal customer, revealing a variety of contact points and opportunity where your brand needs to be present.

Consumer journeys need to include:

  • – Stimulus – what’s the first thing that drives the customer to think about a product or service like yours?
  • – Zero Moment Of Truth – where, when and how the customer researches their need or want and companies that can fulfill their need. In 2011 Google estimated that consumers use around 10 sources to inform their decision. Imagine if your brand had a presence in all these ten places!
  • – First Moment Of Truth – The moment where they’re standing in front of the shelf, looking at your product, surrounded by all your competitors.
  • – Second Moment Of Truth – How your customer experiences your product or service. This phase is vital, because the all-important word-of-mouth marketing lives here.


Strategies consist of so many elements that have to be carefully considered, debated and documented. But with these five must-haves for digital marketing strategy you can start to see why it’s a process that’s worth investing in.

To find out more about me and the work I do at Foreword visit or connect with me on LinkedIn.