The Problem With Building Buyer Personas: What NOT to Do

buyer persona creation by a hubspot partnery agency in SCWe’ve mentioned before the importance of buyer personas when building your inbound marketing plan. In short, a buyer persona is a semi-fictional construct of the type of buyer or buyers you’re marketing to. They’re easy to put together - you can find templates for building them on Hubspot for free - and will give you a much better and more focused way to look at marketing strategies from the ground up.

While I say they’re easy to do, though, it’s with a ‘but’- they’re also easy to do badly.. The problem with setting up personas is that if you trip yourself up, you’ll end up putting time and effort into something that isn’t helping you at all. Here are a few common mistakes that we’re telling you not to do when building your buyer personas.

Don’t Make Stuff Up

Seems like a ridiculous thing to say, right? The whole point of the exercise is to make up a fake person! It’s a little different than that, though; these personas are semi-fictional. Sure, your customer may not actually be named Fly-Fisher Fred or CEO Chad, but it’s the details that matter. Don’t make up hobbies, a life story, or a job title with no basis in fact; research and learn what your buyers are really like. Sit down and talk with recent buyers. If you build your persona with real facts about real people, it will give you the edge you need when it comes to marketing your business.

Ditch the Script

Okay, so you take our advice and sit down to talk with one of your most recent buyers. You have your list of scripted questions laid out and you’re ready to go, right? Not yet. Until you lose the scripted questions or online survey and commit to a conversation, all you’ll learn is what you want to hear and not what you need to hear. Guidelines are good, of course, but let the conversation grow and change based on the buyer’s answers. That will give you real facts to use when building your personas.

Too Many Personas, Too Little Time

The development stage can be pretty fun. You’re building a person! You’re sitting down to use numbers, facts, and the aforementioned conversations in order to create a marketing plan. It sounds like a great time, and it is. It’s easy to get carried away, though, and too many buyer personas will hurt you just as much as not having any. Focus on creating just three personas to start, maybe four. Any more than that and it’s easy to lose focus on your goals and wander off target, trying to appeal to too many people all at once.

No One Cares If They Eat Wheaties

That’s really just another way of saying, don’t sweat the small stuff. If you get bogged down with trivial stuff, you won’t have time (or space) to focus on what matters. What you're looking to build is an archetype, not a specific personality. Business Owner Brad could be the owner of any business you’re marketing to. If you’re trying to sell him on IT security or a product that will help his workers improve their productivity, you don’t care if he eats Wheaties for breakfast. Don’t sweat the small stuff; focus on the big picture.

Buyer personas are a great tool for your marketing team to utilize. A correctly built persona helps you focus your marketing plan, meaning you’re having a conversation rather than shouting into the crowd. However, making these four mistakes could keep you bogged down building intricate villages full of personas who eat at Buffalo Wild Wings or enjoy matinee movies rather of getting on with the marketing research you’re really there for.

Looking for more information on marketing tactics? Check out our recent blogs on Authenticity and the New Buyer Mentality and Selling to the New Buyer Mentality. Looking for help marketing your business or a website redesign (or both)? Give us a call at 864.288.6162 or contact us online to request your consultation today!



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Posted by Katherine Faulk on May 19, 2015 in Internet Marketing, Inbound Marketing | 0 Comments