5 Ways to Completely Screw Up Your Buyer Personas

Ashley Wilson-Rew

don't screw up your buyer personasBelieve us when we say there are a LOT of ways to screw up buyer personas - narrowing the list down was the hardest part of making this post.

Here are five things you should NOT do when making buyer personas:

1. Gather Crappy Data

By “crappy” we mean completely quantitative, shallow information. Sure, stuff like age, gender, and income matter… but those things don’t tell you anything useful about your buyers.

What do they care about? What keeps them up at night? What does success mean in their role? How could the buying process be easier for them?

All of those are open-ended questions for a reason. The kind of “data” you want when you’re making your personas is actually stories. Stories are personal, human, and bonding. That’s the kind of connection you want with your buyers.

2. Do Them Quickly

Nobody likes a rush job, and buyer personas are definitely a case of “you reap what you sow.”

3. Skip the Interviews

This is like skipping the show in favor of the commercials and then telling people the new episode was awesome. Who are you trying to fool?

Information directly from the buyer’s mouth is the heart and soul of your persona. You need direct quotes from your customers to get a feel for their voice, their passions, and their frustrations. And, what exactly they want. No more “I think.” Start saying “from listening to our buyers, we know they want…”

4. Make Too Many Personas

As Ron Swanson once said, “Never half-ass two things. Whole-ass one thing.”

That’s all you really need to know, but let's break it down.

Too many personas dilute the whole pool. The more personas you make, the more your focus is stretched thin between them, and the less effective they will be overall.

Along with dilution comes you being completely overwhelmed. You'll eventually be creating content that targets each persona specifically (AND for every stage in the buyer's journey). That adds up.

More personas mean more work and more hassle for you - might as well save yourself the trouble and make just a few really great personas.

5. Fail to See the Buyer’s Perspective

You’re trying to sell stuff. That makes you a seller. But one of the biggest mistakes you can make is getting stuck in that role and failing to relate to your buyer.

A large part of the buyer persona process is empathy. Take a minute and stop trying to sell your product to anything with eyeballs. What do the things with eyeballs actually want? Probably not a sales pitch every five seconds.

Do these things and your buyer personas are a guaranteed flop. If you’re wondering what you can do RIGHT to make a great buyer persona, check out the article we’ll be posting in a few days on What Makes a Great Buyer Persona.

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