Buyer personas are a great tool to put a face to your target market. This can be incredibly useful when planning marketing strategies as it focuses your intent on specific people instead of a broad, mysterious market.

Creating effective buyer personas shouldn’t be taken lightly. If they are going to represent your target market, it needs to be an accurate model of who they are, not who you want them to be or what you assume they are. So, as you plan and work with buyer personas, be aware and avoid these common mistakes that can ruin your marketing strategies.


1. Not Basing Everything Off Of Data

It’s easy to make assumptions when creating a buyer persona, especially if you have a small amount of data to work with. These assumptions can be incredibly dangerous though, as they aren’t based on hard data, which is much more reliable than somebody’s opinion.

Proper market research can lead you to a better understanding about your target market, and in turn, build realistic buyer personas.

The goal is to create a persona that properly reflects real customers, and the best way to do this is to understand them by interviewing them and looking at raw data.

Thanks to the age of information we live in, small businesses have access to big data resources in addition to their personal data.

So, as you build and look at buyer personas, question whether a specific habit or trait you’ve attributed to them has data to support it. The more accurate you can be with a persona, the better you can market to them, leading to more success.

2. Basing Habits Off of Generational Stereotypes

It is so incredibly easy to be influenced by generational stereotypes that we often don’t realize it. The media has done a very effective job in getting people to accept their twisted, and mostly inaccurate, picture of different generations, like millennials, baby boomers, and Generation Y.

For example, what do you think of when you hear the word “millennials?” For most, it invokes images of young adults glued to their phones, taking constant selfies in an attempt to sate of narcissism, and is overall lazy.

While there might be kernels of truth in these stereotypes, and maybe some who fit it, most millennials don’t. Data provided by PEW research shows that millennials actually care more about being good parents and spouses than anything else.

In fact, most people don’t fit the generational stereotype they are in, because most are just normal people. They don’t belong in your personas because, not only are they untrue, but they result in marketing tactics that push away who you are targeting.

3. Having Too Many Personas

As you delve into researching buying habits, you might notice differing trends in your data. This will lead to multiple personas being created so that you can better target different buying habits, but having too many should be a serious concern.

Creating and targeting multiple personas will just lead to confused marketing. The more focused you can be in your approaches, the more effective you will be.

The best practice is to start with a single persona for the majority of customers, and then build a few additional when you see substantial data to suggest you should.

If you feel a specific persona isn’t helpful or poorly crafted, don’t feel bad about throwing it out. It’s better to start with a clean slate then trying to tweak a persona to work, as your campaigns to them will do poorly and you’ll be distracted from focusing on ones that could succeed.

4. Focusing On Personalities, Not Buying Habits

As you create buyer personas, you do all you can to humanize them. We give them silly names, careers, attitudes, pictures, even entire back stories and families.

Yet, as we continue to build them, many focus on their personalities and who they are, but fail to research the entire reasons behind buyer personas. Why and how they buy things.

The background and personality is important, just to help understand who your target market is, but should not be a focus in a persona. In fact, it should range from a bullet point list to a single paragraph. The meat of the persona needs to be their buyer’s journey.

Things to include are what problems they face on a normal basis, what they spend their spare money on, where they spend their time, different tactics they respond to and which ones push them away, what types of offers they like, what type of products they purchase, and more.

5. Not Updating Personas

People change. Technology advances. Marketing is constantly evolving. So on a regular basis, looking into updating your personas to make sure they are still accurate.

That doesn’t mean just looking at it and calling it good, but digging into analytics and external data to make sure everything is still accurate.

Failing to do this will result in your marketing falling behind and stagnating. A clear sign of this happening is when highly successful campaigns begin to falter and fail. Finding out why is essential to fixing the problem, so take the time to discover what is happening. Don’t just look internally, but also at outside events.

This could include actions of competitors, world wide events, or simply that your target market has grown and changed as a whole. Constantly updating and re-examining personas will help prevent this.

What are your thoughts? Are you guilty of these mistakes when building buyer personas? Did we miss something on this list? Let us know in the comments below.

Note: The opinions expressed in this article are the views of the author, and not necessarily the views of Caphyon, its staff, or its partners.

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