Most Common Mistakes When Creating Buyer Personas

Post by
Sonia Osinski
Minute Read
September 15, 2020
Last Updated:
October 19, 2020

Buyer personas are semi-fictional representations of your actual customers created based on research and real data based on existing customers. Each buyer persona is a type of client that shares specific attributes and traits that make them interact similarly in the buying process.  

This sales and marketing exercise can be of great use to understand your target audience, learn how to communicate with each one, and make sales processes that adapt to each one, giving you tools to provide more personalized communications. 

Even though they are related concepts, a Buyer Persona is not the same as target market segmentation. While demographic data may play a part in the persona identification process, a buyer persona goes more in-depth into needs, intent and motivation.

buyer persona example

What Are The Most Common Mistakes When Creating Buyer Personas?

1. Creating Too Many Of Them

While your business’s complexity may make you want to get really into detail and thorough about each type of lead, when you create too many buyer personas, you run the risk of being unable to delineate between them. The whole idea of buyer personas is to provide focus and a clear path into how you should communicate with that lead. If they fit into more than one of these segments, then the roadmap and way of communication might get confusing.

2. Not Doing Enough Research

Processes and tools are only as good as the information you are basing them on. This is a step many people don’t consider because they are either too confident about their knowledge or don’t have the time or resources to do it correctly. 

What resources can you use to serve as support in your buyer persona creation process?

  1. Buyer’s journey maps: This is another excellent sales and marketing exercise that helps you truly understand the steps in each persona’s buying process. It can give you a clear idea of what questions they have and the resources that can help them overcome their doubts and hesitations.
  2. In-depth interviews: These interviews help you dig deep into your lead’s and client’s thought process, doubts, and intentions, saving you from creating assumptions that could be false. It’s important to interview both prospects and clients to get a broader picture of their different perceptions.
  3. Data collected from your CRM: Your CRM system lets you create and compare segments based on characteristics and test hypotheses based on real data. 

3. Creating Personas Without Getting Other Team’s Input

Personas should be built as a collaborative effort between marketing, sales, customer success, and any other teams that can provide authentic insights and feedback into the persona’s characteristics.

4. Creating Personas Around Your Own Needs

Personas should be built around the needs and interests of your prospects. Focusing on your products and services rather than on the buyer’s problems will result in limited insights that may cause leads to respond poorly to messaging that won’t resonate with them.

5. Not Focusing On The Right Criteria & Action Items

This is one of the most common mistakes. A persona isn’t (just) their role or their characteristics, but a set of beliefs, actions and ideas. Examples of this are people creating “Peter President” and only naming basic aspects around them like age, level of education, and company size.  The problem with these personas is that they don’t give you insight into how to communicate with them and what actions to take, so they end up being underused. Action items can help you increase relevancy and personalize your communications, helping your persona development and giving you and your team clear actions into how to approach that lead. These action items are elements that go into a buying decision, what drives their actions, what their daily routine looks like, among others. They can help sales and marketing create better strategies around them and better-targeted campaigns. 

In Conclusion

Creating buyer personas is not an exercise that should be taken lightly and without thought. It’s a complex system of segmentations and attributes that help organize processes and measure results. These personas shouldn’t be set in stone either. Products and services, business objectives, markets, and customers change over time, so it’s necessary to keep personas updated and testing their results often.

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