The Before-and-After Transformation: Finding Your Buyer Persona’s Core Message

Ruben’s YouTube video thumbnail of Before/After in the Customer Value Journey.

Here’s a question for you:

How many movie plots involve someone who’s unhappy with some part of their life — but then something happens that changes everything (for the better)? 

The ugly duckling turns into a beautiful swan.

Neo goes from a computer hacker to a humanity-saving bada$$.

Shrek goes from a snarky ogre with a Scottish accent… to a snarky ogre with a Scottish accent that understands love and friendship. 

These stories take many forms, but before-and-after transformations are downright inspiring

And great marketing understands that potential customers are seeking their OWN transformation story.

At 8 SIGNAL, we talk a lot about the Customer Value Journey (CVJ) and Buyer Personas — because they’re CRITICAL to developing effective strategy and getting marketing results. (If you’re not sure what I mean by CVJ or Buyer Personas, check out this blog.)

The short definition of a buyer persona is an avatar for your ideal customer. And as part of the CVJ (and to get the most effective marketing messaging), we’ve got an exercise to take your buyer persona on a journey of transformation from an unhappy “before-meeting-you” to “after-purchasing-your-product” bliss.

In this post, I’m going to show you how to map out the before/after state of your buyer persona so that you can create empathy, connect with your target customers, and laser-focus your marketing message!

Don’t have time to read this post? Watch the video here instead!

Why Should You Map the Before/After State Of Your Customer Value Journey?

That’s a great question! But next time, raise your hand. 

Just kidding! That would be rude, and I want you to keep reading this post.

Why DO you need to create a before-and-after state for your buyer persona?

It’s because when people buy products or services, they’re really buying transformations.

      • A gym membership to transform their bodies
      • Clothes to transform their appearance or elevate their social status
      • Marketing certifications to transform their career or business
      • One of those trendy, ridiculously overpriced Stanley cups to fit in with all the other well-hydrated ladies (or so my wife tells me!)

    Right now, your persona doesn’t like where they’re at or what they’re experiencing — and they’re looking for a solution to get out of this undesirable “before” state.

    Maybe they’re in pain. Or unsuccessful, scared, bored, or unhappy for any number of other reasons.

    Effective marketing meets people where they’re at. To do that, we need to understand what your avatar is experiencing in the Customer Value Journey.

      • Have
      • Feel
      • Average Day
      • Status
      • Good vs. Evil

    “Meh” marketing only speaks to what a customer will have if they buy a product or service — but that’s only the very first layer.

    GREAT marketing digs deeper to connect with the transformations around how your avatar will feel as they work through the Customer Value Journey, how their day-to-day life will change, how their status will elevate, and how they can become a real-life hero by solving an evil in the world.

    By going through your Buyer Persona’s Before/After Transformation, you can map out their journey from their unhappy “before” state to the “after” state that they want. This will help hone your marketing message and lead to the results you desire.

    So how do we do that? Let’s jump into the cake layers.

    Working Through the Five Layers of Motivation

    1. Have

    We can start peeling back the layers of your buyer persona’s wants and motivations by asking the most basic question: 

    “What does your persona have right now that they DON’T want?”

    Or “What does your persona want that they DON’T have?”

    Maybe your buyer persona is a business owner who isn’t getting results from their marketing efforts — and doesn’t understand why. With your intentional marketing strategy help, she’s getting measurable results. AND she now has someone to rely on when she needs answers.

    2. Feeling

    Consider how that thing your Buyer Persona wants (but doesn’t have in this stage of the Customer Value Journey) makes them feel.



    Frustrated because they want a solution?

    Understanding how your buyer persona feels guides your marketing messaging so that you can speak to that emotional state.

    In the business owner example, here’s how our buyer persona feels in her “after” state:


    No longer worried.

    Has proven marketing strategies, and she’s seeing results!

    4. Average Day

    Next, we think through how their current situation affects an average day in the life of your avatar — and how their day is different afterwards after going through the Customer Value Journey. 

    What new thoughts are on repeat now that you’re in their lives? 

    For example, the business owner is getting left behind as technology is changing so fast, and her entire day is a constant state of putting out fires just to keep the business running. Now, in the after state of the Customer Value Journey, she has a team of experts that can help her market her business. They do all the work for her, keeping her up to date on any relevant changes to the marketing landscape, so she can focus on running her business and growing it to new heights.

    4. Status

    It’s just a general truth that people are motivated by how they think they’re perceived by others. 

    Napoleon Bonaparte (the little-big guy himself) famously said, “A soldier will fight long and hard for a bit of colored ribbon. Give me enough ribbons to place on the tunics of my soldiers, and I can conquer the world.”

    The point of that quote isn’t that selling hair bows is the key to world domination — it’s that people want to be seen as accomplished.

    As leaders.

    As part of the in-crowd.

    As smarty pants-es who are living their best lives and achieving their full potential.

    Your buyer persona’s desire for status at this stage of the Customer Value Journey includes:

        • Authority
        • Leadership
        • Position
        • Wealth
        • Fame
        • Popularity
        • Membership
        • Accomplishments
        • Intelligence
        • Social Skills
        • Recognition
        • Altruism
        • Honors

      In our “business-owner-getting-left-behind-by-techology” example from earlier, she likely fears that others see her as incompetent. Or lacking a strategic vision for the future. Or left in the past and incapable of facing the challenges of the modern, digital world (and probably all of the above). 

      Now, thanks to her trusty fractional marketing team, she now feels like a strategic leader who identified gaps in her expertise and found effective solutions. She’s not worried that people know she’s not a tech wizard — they see her as a collaborative leader who’s able to adapt and find the right people for the job.

      How does your product or service elevate the status of your Buyer Persona?

      5. Good vs. Evil

      In the Customer Value Journey, we have (finally) come to the last layer in our delicious marketing cake: Good vs. Evil.

      Think about your buyer persona’s “after” state from a moral standpoint: If they choose your product or service, how will the purchase contribute to a positive impact on the world (or on an issue they care about)? Or what are your company’s core values that make your corner of the world a better place?

      Apple’s marketing emphasizes individuality in the face of conformity. 

      Dove talks about body positivity in a world with unrealistic standards.

      By being closed on Sundays, Chick-Fil-A is making a statement that family is important. By bringing loved ones together around the table, they’re taking a stand against the deterioration of the most important units of society: families.

      In the same way, a production company might engage in combat against disconnected families by creating high-quality content that kids and adults can both watch and enjoy together.

      How can your brand help solve a problem or support a good cause? We want to align your organization with your Buyer Persona and that greater good.

      For our business owner, the evil is that companies that don’t deserve to win are the ones winning — not because they’re better, but only because they have better marketing.

      In her “after” state, she believes that her company can go “toe-to-toe” with competitors and outperform them with great service AND great marketing.

      (Before/After) Transformational Marketing

      And that’s it!

      That’s how to work through the before-and-after states of your buyer persona.

      Hopefully you can see the power of these questions and how this exercise can hone your marketing strategy.

      There’s more to the Customer Value Journey, and you can check out this video for a step-by-step guide to that process.

      Do you understand your buyer persona? Does your marketing messaging connect with the deep wants and motivations of your customers? Are you ready to go from “meh” marketing to creating raving fans of your brand? We’d love to help. Find out more about how 8 SIGNAL can take your business to the next level in this blog post.