Though it’s a huge mistake to ignore buyer personas when creating a new marketing plan, it can be just as detrimental if you've built your personas incorrectly.
Being aware of the five most common missteps that lead to inaccurate personas, will help prevent them and create a more authentic representation of your audience.
1. Having too many (or not enough) personas
The number of buyer personas you need depends on several factors, such as the number; of products / services you offer, the industries you serve, stakeholders to influence.
If you’re just starting out with using persona-based marketing, it's best to limit it to 1-3. Anything greater than that will likely divide your efforts, and you won’t be able to hone in on the actions needed to see results. You can always add new ones later if you begin targeting a new audience (as your product / service offering grows) or if you want to expand into new markets.
2. Creating personas not based on real data
When creating buyer personas, many miss the mark by making assumptions based on; opinions, anecdotal / outdated information or 'gut instinct', rather than timely data. Thinking that your customers fit into too narrow a category (e.g. Auckland single men, aged 29-33 with pet iguanas) or too broad (e.g. every woman in Australasia) is also remarkably common.
So why is it considered important to focus on accurate buyer personas? Working with facts to define your audience, enables effective communications. Focus on researching actual customers' buying habits before fleshing out their personalities.
3. Making assumptions based on age/generational stereotypes
The Boomers vs. Millennial debate, has seen sweeping generalisations about what groups born within a 20 year window is, or isn't, doing. Basing your buyer personas on these stereotypes or things you've read in news editorials won't do your marketing plan any favours.
Likewise, confusing your preferences with your personas' can also be costly. Just because you prefer reading blog posts on LinkedIn doesn't mean it's the ideal platform for your target audience, or even the rest of your age demographic.
It's also worth noting that, no matter what age group you're targeting, video content can be easily and quickly consumed. It just needs to be on the same platform(s) that your true audience is using, to be effective. Find out where your customers are actually spending their time, before jumping to stereotypical conclusions about where they might or might not be.
4. Ignoring the problems your personas' face
If your buyer personas are based on your customers' roles rather than their problems, you are probably missing the entire point for creating personas in the first place. Your personas must focus on the struggles your potential clients’ are facing, and how you can help solve their problems.
For example, instead of trying to sell your services to 'entrepreneurial women aged 35-55, who have 2-5 employees', you should actually be targeting someone who struggles to balance the needs of their clients with the demands of managing a growing business.
Look at your personas from the perspective of how you can help alleviate their pain points. You'll be much more successful at crafting messaging that appeals to your prospects.
5. Forgetting to update your personas
The digital world changes fast. Failing to update your buyer personas as new trends emerge will leave your campaigns lagging behind. Your business, too, will change and grow over time—especially if you start to explore other markets and launch new products or services.
To ensure your marketing remains effective, set some time aside to review your personas at least once a year to check that they still align with your consumer and business realities.
Even by keeping these tips in mind, building your first customer personas can be challenging. If you need help crafting data-driven, buyer personas that work for your business (and what to do once you have them), get in touch with one of Aamplify's expert client partners.