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3 min read | Buyer Research

5 common mistakes companies make when developing buyer personas

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Though it’s a mistake in itself to not develop buyer personas when creating a new marketing plan, it can be just as detrimental if you've built your personas incorrectly.

By making yourself aware of these five common misunderstandings that can lead to inaccurate personas, you can work to prevent them and create more authentic representations 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 or services you offer, the industries you serve, an what stakeholders you're trying 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 you'll need to take in order to see results.You can always add new ones later on 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 that aren't based on real data

When creating buyer personas for the first time, many miss the mark by making assumptions based on opinions, anecdotal or outdated information, or 'gut instinct' rather than true and timely data. Thinking that your customers fit into categories that are very narrow (eg. single men in Auckland aged 29-33 with pet iguanas) or too broad (eg. every woman in Australasia) is also remarkably common.

Make sure you have the facts to back up who you audience really is, instead of just who you might think they are, and focus on researching your customers' buying habits before fleshing out their personalities. 

3. Making assumptions based on age/generational stereotypes

The Boomers vs. Millenials debate has seen some pretty sweeping generalisations made in terms of what an entire group of people 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 prefer reading blog posts on Linkedin doesn't mean that this is the platform your target audience, or the rest of your age demographic, prefers to learn from.

Its 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 platforms that your true audience is using in order to be effective. Find out where your customers are actually spending their time before jumping to played-out stereotypical conclusions about where they might or might not be.

 

4. Ignoring the problems your customers are facing

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 should 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 business 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.

By looking at your personas from the perspective of how you can help alleviate their pain points, you'll be much more successful in craft messaging that will appeal more to your prospects.

5. Forgetting to update your personas

The digital world changes fast, and 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, you'll need to 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.

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