Buyer Personas

Don'ts: what to avoid when creating buyer personas

“Only who truly understands clients’ needs will succeed to attract and serve them in the right way.”

Customers are a complex construct with many layers. Sometimes they are a black box. You can give your best to comprehend their desires and goals, but without the right tools, you will struggle. Buyer personas are the best practice to draw a detailed picture of a semi-fictional customer. Even though there are many templates and guides available online, it is a complicated process where a wrong approach will lead to drawing false conclusions and setting up non-effective strategies.

That’s why we are providing in this article “Don’ts” you should definitely avoid when creating personas.

61% of people expect brands to tailor experiences based on their preferences.”

Many businesses forget that the customer is the center of everything. These companies pretend to know their clients by guessing what they should like. But only because it makes sense to the employees of the company, it doesn’t mean that buyers will like it. Instead of choosing a customer-centered approach, they build up hypotheses which are mostly far from buyers’ needs.

Further, it is a pity that too many businesses still treat most of their customers the same. According to Google, “61% of people expect brands to tailor experiences based on their preferences.” Needless to say, that every client is unique and should deserve to be seen like that accordingly. We are not saying that tailored solutions for everyone are the key. Nevertheless, a better understanding of different buyer groups is a good start.

Faster said than done! Now you might be asking yourself how to do that.

What is a buyer persona?

A user persona or also buyer persona is a detailed, semi-fictional description or rather representation of a specified user or customer. It may not exist in reality in this exact way but could be a desired concept. 

With the help of buyer personas, your different departments will gain a better understanding of your customers and how to position your service to those.

There are a couple of steps you have to go through until you arrive at your user persona. In general, a user persona comes with three main characteristics:

  • Demographic (age, gender, etc.)
  • General traits (profession, interests, hobbies, etc.)
  • Psychological (motivations, needs, fears, etc.)

If you talk with hands-on marketers, they will tell that buyer personas are a must-have. Some of them, however, struggle to explain the background of this claim. But why are buyer personas so crucial to your company? Here are some of the most significant reasons:

 

  • With buyer personas in place UX designers manage to improve customer experience and thus the value proposition.

     

  • Nobody wants to target wrong customers. This is also a matter of money and a waste of time, which you should invest in attracting the right buyers. Consequently, you should ask yourself “Who do I want as my customer?” and ”Who not?”

 

  • With the help of data-backed buyer personas, you can predict where your potential customers spend their time online – which channels, mediums. The more granular you are defining them, the better you can fine-tune your marketing activities.

     

  • Buyer personas don’t benefit only the Marketing department. Also, Product Development has the right insights to create products and services people actually want to use.

Common mistakes when creating a buyer persona

Even though we highly recommend creating buyer personas, we would like to point out potential common faults. Who thinks that persona development is a fast activity needs to rethink. Plenty of influences can produce a false persona outcome and eventually steer a business in a misleading direction. Here comes a bunch of mistakes you should carefully consider when developing a buyer persona.

No guessing and making stuff up
Firstly, you should never start with a guess or making, quite the contrary is the case. Market research, actual data, and also further insights about existing customers build the basis.
Do you remember this sentence? “Before you judge a man, walk a mile in his shoes.” This saying is also applicable in the business world. Rather than making misassumptions, you should make efforts to understand a user’s experiences, thought processes, and challenges. 

Dividing by one metric
Never start the process by dividing your personas by one characteristic, such as age, for example. Buyer personas are way more complex than that and go into a deeper understanding of the whole person. 

Using a real customer as an example
It is definitely not recommended basing a buyer persona on just one single real-life client – even if he is your best one. A persona should represent a larger group of potential customers.

Making your persona perfect
As in real life, nobody is perfect and so not the personas. It is a significant task to identify challenges and weaknesses of each buyer persona. Otherwise, you will not see any potential obstacles coming when approaching the real people.

No sharing within the company
Many marketing departments, when arrived at the full-documented buyer persona, don’t share it with other units within the same company. Not only the creation department but also Sales, Tech, and others can profit from them. Don’t forget that all units are working towards the same goal.

Missing negative personas
Did you know that there are also negative personas? Yes, you heard right! Negative personas personify the group of people which you don’t want to have as your clients. Thus Marketing is able to exclude this negative persona in their activities and outreaches, and Sales, on the other hand, is able to concentrate on qualified leads.

71% of companies who exceed revenue and lead goals have documented Personas.

Customer Journey is not considered
Often it is helpful to take the user/ customer journey into account when creating personas. First of all, it is essential to recall that users go on different journeys to arrive at their goal, be it a purchase or just retrieving of information. Where one potential buyer starts the journey by hearing about your product from a neighbour, another one sees your ad on Facebook. Consequently, they will take different paths and steps to reach their destination. By neglecting the journey, you might fail to communicate or target in the correct way since he is in another stage of the buyer journey.

Not identifying the trigger
Another point which is frequently neglected is somehow connected to the customer journey: the trigger. When making your persona you should ask yourself, what was the trigger that brought the potential user/ client close to your business. 

Would you like to win unsatisfied clients from your competitors? Then the trigger event is the dissatisfaction of these group of customers, which are ready to look out for new and better opportunities.

Too many or too less
When being in the flow of buyer persona creation, marketers sometimes tend to create more personas than necessary. This can be a problem as it leads to a loss in focus. On the other side, is one single persona not sufficient. Customers are diverse, every company should draft more than one persona, since one buyer persona stands for a larger group of customers. Developing 1-3 is a good beginning.

Not refreshing
In our fast-changing world, needs and product requirements change. You should ask yourself: “Will my business be the same in 3 years?” And we can already answer that – most likely not. There is a high possibility that new consumers’ interests and markets will evolve and your company has to adapt its offerings. As a consequence also, your previous defined personas should be reviewed from time to time.

Do you need assistance in your buyer persona development? Don’t hesitate to contact us!

Always recall the Don’ts

Buyer personas are a powerful technique to learn more about your customer and to understand their habits and decisions. But like it is with almost everything, used in an incorrect way, they can do harm to business-related decisions. In our article we gave you insights in diverse common mistakes which can bring you further away from your client instead of bringing you closer. Make sure to always keep them in mind!