By Tonya Vinas
Persona development is a crucial precursor to creating content that converts. No one has a perfect formula for every need—and there might never be one. But these four mistakes are common pitfalls that can undermine persona development.
1. Title Tunnel Vision
We filter targeted buyers by titles early on. This is a good practice, but it also can limit your reach to decision-makers. Ask not only who makes the final decision to buy, but also how decisions are made. In flattened management hierarchies, such Zappos and ZTE, input from multiple people in different functions drives decisions. Also, some companies push decision-making down from the corporate level to the site or unit level, where C titles aren’t as involved.
2. Data for Data’s Sake
Not all data is equal. Use the best possible research on roles, industries, customers, companies, etc. Optimally, data comes from the work of professional researchers, has been released in the past 12 months and was gathered using sound research methodology. This doesn’t mean data that doesn’t meet all three benchmarks is bad, but the farther away it gets, the less good it is.
3. Nothing New Here
Don’t build personas based only on what’s already known. Aim to find out something new about personas each time you revisit them. The only constant in business is that everything changes all the time. Merger and acquisition activity, demand spikes, new technology or advanced technology, global economic shifts, capital market fluctuations, even materials shortages—these factors and others can cause big changes in roles and responsibilities and organizational strategies.
4. Eyes Off The Prize
While it can be helpful to include personal attributes in a persona, it can also be misleading and distracting if taken too far, especially in B2B marketing. Business is about money. Yes, content should be “fun,” but fun in a business context. If you think your personas are too lengthy, review the content for information most directly linked to sales, cash flow and profits. In the business world, these are the three things that either cause pain or alleviate it.
Persona development is an evolving science, but avoiding these four pitfalls is a common-sense way to lay a solid foundation for personas that lead to good results from content marketing.
Tonya Vinas is Senior Editor at Content4Demand.