Why Your Buying Personas Aren't Working

3 Minute Read

Building your buyer personas is a crucial stage in your marketing strategy.

It’s not uncommon for us to come across industrial businesses who have created personas simply because they feel they have to. As a result, they rush to ‘bash out’ a series of customer caricatures to tick the persona ‘box’.

Forming your personas is not a task that should be taken lightly. You need to sit down with your team and spend some time really getting under the skin of who you are selling to. Done properly, your personas can are the key to unlocking your marketing’s full potential, allowing you to successfully market to the right people.

So, let’s take a look at some of the reasons why your personas aren’t working and how you can turn them around.

A lack of input

Getting the stakeholders and staff on board and engaging with the process can be a challenge. Some see persona creation as just ‘fluffy marketing stuff’ meaning they don’t give it their full attention…

Now more than ever accurate and in-depth persona creation is essential to successful marketing. Your audience expect content tailored to them, their interests and where they are in the buyer’s journey. Without this, it’s unlikely they will engage with your content. Besides, it only takes one competitor to have more accurate targeting than you to lose the interest of a prospect.

We host buyer persona and sales messaging workshops regularly, often with stakeholders and managing directors, so we understand it takes a little convincing in order to get everyone on board. That said, not one of our attendees have ever felt that these workshops were a waste of time. Often, they go away with a deeper understanding of their business and their audience which aids them in their marketing decisions for months, if not years, to come.

It’s crucial to get all key stakeholders involved in the creation of marketing personas. That usually includes sales, marketing, service and senior management. Without these people as a baseline, your personas will have holes in them and they won’t work as well as they could. Time and time again we see marketers left to their own devices when it comes to persona creation but a single viewpoint often just isn’t enough.

The more perspectives you can get, the better. For example, your customer service team may be able to provide insight on your audience’s struggles and pain points while sales will have a better idea of how best to communicate with certain personas and what language they use to describe your products and services.

You left them in the drawer

As we’ve already discussed, building buyer personas isn’t a box-ticking exercise. You are doing this to improve your understanding of your target customers and increase the success of your marketing. Building in-depth personas sees you asking some of the most important questions about your business and audience. Without really understanding why customers buy from you, what their pain points are or how they like to engage with you, building out a marketing strategy becomes almost impossible.

It’s important to regularly review your buyer personas to check that your business’ understanding is correct and not outdated. This is particularly important when you take into consideration the rapidly changing landscape of digital marketing and how people like to digest their content or where they are spending most time online.

You’re not evolving your personas

As a result of constant revisions and an increase in our understanding of our customers, our key buyer personas have changed a lot over the years.

To illustrate the importance of returning to your personas, I’d like to tell you a bit about Intergage’s buyer personas and where we saw an opportunity to evolve them.

One of our key personas was Bill the Business Owner. We thought we knew plenty about his occupation, his challenges, buying triggers and what he responds to. But we found we weren’t getting as much engagement from our Bill the Business Owner persona as we thought we should be. And then we found our problem.

Bill was of indeterminate age…

This may seem like a small detail, but in fact a baby boomer nearing retirement thinks and behaves very differently to a 32-year-old managing director.

We knew we had to further segment our personas, and out of Bill came William Old and Will New, each with different challenges, different user behaviours and different channels of communication.

For example, Bill the Business Owner is now 35-55 (Generation X) and likes to use YouTube, LinkedIn and Twitter. He reads expert blogs and places real value in networking.

William Old, however, is a business-owning baby boomer (55-65). He spends most of his time looking at industry publications and is a part of relevant institutions and associations. He responds well to referrals.

And our Will New is a millennial business owner (20-35) and spends far more time on channels such as LinkedIn and Twitter. He listens to podcasts and reads expert blogs for industry news.

This informed our content strategy, as well as our paid advertising campaigns and overall sales messaging.

These nuances are what make your persona-targeted content a success. Singling out one type of persona, right down to their age, allows you to create personalised, engaging content that works on their buying triggers and helps to alleviate their pain points. This can only come through a comprehensive and detailed understanding of who you’re selling to.

To Summarise

When creating buyer personas, be sure to take your time and really get under the skin of your audience. Involve as many of your teams as possible to create a well-rounded understanding of your customers from all perspectives.

And once you’ve created them, don’t forget to review them! You should be working on your personas regularly by creating content specific for each persona, so you should be able to see when one or two need updating.

If you need some assistance on creating your own personas, why not download our free ebook?

Download Your FREE Persona Guide Now

Alex Elborn

Alex Elborn

Alex is part of the senior management team and is responsible for running Intergage's own marketing. She develops and manages the marketing strategy and budget to connect with businesses in the manufacturing sector. Alex is also a HubSpot expert and has been using the software for clients and Intergage for more than five years.