Clear, vivid, and accurate buyer personas can drastically elevate a brand’s marketing strategy. At Sandstorm, we rely on these personas in almost every aspect of our work. Buyer personas help guide our decisions when it comes to our content, strategy, and marketing efforts. The structure and insight that buyer personas provide a business allow brands to decide where to channel their efforts and how to align work throughout the organization.
What is a buyer persona?
In short, it’s a fictional (but realistic) representation of your ideal customer. That perfect customer might look like a trucker who’s got an affinity for pounding Big Macs as he traverses the Midwest, but it could also look like a wealthy and affluent older woman who’s got a penchant for pearls.
No matter what buyer persona you cook up, any marketer will warn you of the pitfalls that they often plunge into during the construction of these personalities. Below, are some of the most common buyer persona mistakes and how to avoid them.
Too much emphasis on the buyer
When you begin to piece together a buyer persona, you should be thinking about more than just profiling your buyer; you should aim to profile their decisions. Getting a consumer to make a purchase comes down to much more than their personality or what you’ve got to sell.
Work hard to understand how your buyer persona might think and make decisions. You’ll need a deep understanding of their attitudes, values, decision criteria, and other similar factors if you want your persona to help see you to success. Spend less time focusing on fun “extras” like hobbies and more time thinking about crucial factors that impact decisions.
Too many personas developed
It can feel tempting to branch out and start creating your own small army of buyer personas after you’ve got one or two in place. Painting a picture of your target audience helps you feel in control and on top of whatever it is you need to do to market effectively; but you can’t pay each persona (and the real audience it’s based on) enough attention if you rack up too many.
You don’t need to create a singular buyer persona to meet each demographic you’re targeting. Aim to lump characteristics and traits together to form an image of a more realistic and dimensional consumer. Your buyer personas should help you understand how and when to use different marketing strategies; they shouldn’t just be a tool for counting how many strategies you should have.
Overlooking negative personas
Everyone wants to target an audience who’s already ready and willing to take a look at their products or services, but is that who they’re going to be speaking to all of the time? No. Focusing on the positive is a great way to drum up sales and increase customer loyalty, but you shouldn’t forget to consider the negative personas you may encounter during your marketing efforts.
Think about the subsets of people who would have no use for your product or services. Construct buyer personas built around them, too. These personas will only serve to deepen your understanding of your true target market; and, as a bonus, you’ll know who you don’t need to worry about once you launch a new campaign.
Keeping persona creation relegated to the marketing bubble
Countless marketers take on the duty of creating buyer personas all on their own. In theory, the concept makes sense. The job has to do with marketing, so obviously marketing teams would be the best candidates for the task, right? Not necessarily.
Every team in your company should be involved in creating buyer personas. Sales, customer service, and community engagement team members have immense exposure to clients and can offer valuable insight during the brainstorming process. Defining your ideal client is tough when you aren’t client-side, so don’t be hesitant to reach out to those front office roles and ask for advice.
Buyer Personas: Fun to Create, But Easy to Misuse
If you’re hoping to push your buyer personas to their highest potential, you’ll need to run over your means of creating them with a fine-toothed comb. These classic marketing tools can help an organization clearly define their marketing strategy and elevate their audience targeting efforts. As long as your marketing squad understands some of the most common roadblocks to creating effective buyer personas, you’ll be well on your way to enticing an engaged audience.