Customer Persona Marketing Mistakes You Need to Avoid

creating a customer persona

Creating a customer persona is an important part of any content marketing strategy. It isn’t enough to simply create a great product or offer a valuable service. You need to know who will benefit from choosing what you offer.

Understanding your core audience is what gives you the ability to sell them your product or service. It also allows you to touch their lives in ways that generate the bonds of trust. Really understanding your core audience is how you also generate a truly memorable experience for them.

Profile Ideal Buyers, Not Real Buyers

Real people are complex, there’s no doubt about that. Sometimes it can be tempting to choose a real customer or client to model your buyer profile or persona after. After all, they are your ideal customer, right? They may be people you’re literally writing your blog for at the moment.

You may wish that all your customers were like Pat who always comes in on Thursdays. That doesn’t make Pat your ideal customer. Your ideal customer is the person who is most likely to want or need what you’re offering. That ideal may turn out to be a lot like Pat, or it could be like Chuck, Iris or Jay.

When you create a marketing persona, it’s tempting to immediately start thinking about specific people who are already your customer. Having a specific understanding of individuals like your favorite customers can often help to give you a stepping off point. But it’s far more important to have a general understanding of the community you offer your services to.

The point of creating a successful persona is to whittle down the outliers. Note and remove those who may be only be interested in your product. Keep going until only one or two types of people who can’t live without what you’re selling are left.

After you’re a wild success and need to squeeze every inch of market share you can, go back to the outliers and look for new opportunities. Until your business’ name is hanging on a building, focus on what’s going to give the biggest bang for your buck.

Don’t Rely on Anecdotes Instead of Research

One of the universal truths about human beings is that we love a good story. Anecdotes from customers can offer both entertainment and illumination, but they aren’t a good foundation for creating a customer persona.

A good anecdote can point you in a direction, but it can’t take you all the way. To do that, you need real research into the buying habits of the people in your broader community. While it may seem like one type of person is your main customer, it may turn out another is even more likely to buy from you. Research helps you adapt your marketing strategies to create success.

You can conduct your own research, hire a research consultancy or purchase it from a professional research company such as comScore. Depending on your industry, you can also find research online for free. Marketing SaaS companies like HubSpot often conduct market research and provide it free to their community.

It isn’t wrong to use the common elements from anecdotes as your starting point when compiling your market research. However, you should let the numbers lead you to understand what is going to help you get your product in front of the people who are going to buy it.

Focus on Buying Habits, Not Personalities

Customer personas are consumer profiles of a type of person likely to purchase your product. They’re a stereotype you create to better understand the behaviors and motivations of your customers. It’s a mistake to focus on personalities of people over their likelihood to purchase your product.

A lot of the time these personalities may be linked to preconceived notions we have about the people around us. If you think a certain type of person wouldn’t be likely to buy your product, you could be missing out on a lot of sales.

Focus on researching the people who already buy products or services like yours. Then work your way backward to find out why.

After you already know who is most likely to be a customer and why that is, you can start experimenting with personalities. It’s good to breathe a little life into a customer profile by giving it some personality. That’s a step that should come last in the process, however.

Don’t Fall Into the Trivial Details Trap

Just as you don’t want to create a persona based on a specific individual, you also don’t want to get hung up on unnecessary details. Getting stuck on a persona’s name, gender or specific demographic information can impede creating a customer persona. It can sow division in teams and turn off paying clients.

It’s far better to focus on the important parts of creating a buyer profile or customer persona. That is, interpreting your research to come up with an understanding of what makes people want to buy your stuff. A name is just a label you place on that data.

If a person’s race or ethnicity isn’t important when creating a customer persona, then it also shouldn’t matter when you’re creating the PowerPoint presentation. The only details that should are the ones that tell you how what makes your persona want to buy your product.

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