Beware of These 4 Common Persona Mistakes

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Personas can be incredibly useful in B2B marketing—provided you’re including the right details. Those details might vary depending on your industry or your solution, there are at least four common persona mistakes everyone should avoid.

A marketing persona is a representation of your ideal buyer that allows you to develop messaging and content that’s personalized to meet their unique needs. That goes not just for your cornerstone content, but for individual campaigns that target specific audience segments.

Even if you already have personas in place, you’ll want to review these four common persona mistakes to make sure you’re addressing these issues.

1. Missing Key Job Titles

When Content4Demand researches personas, job title is a no-brainer. But that doesn’t mean you should make a snap decision on the most relevant job titles in your customers’ buying cycles. Think not just about who makes a final decision. Consider how the decisions are made.

In some companies, executives in the C-suite are your key targets. That could mean one top decision-maker or key players in different functions. But some organizations push decision-making down to the site or department level, where the higher-ups are less involved. The larger the financial outlay, the more likely it is that a larger buying committee gets involved. That means you need to persuade multiple buying influencers.

According to Demand Gen Report’s latest research, the average B2B technology purchasing decision, for example, now involves an average of seven stakeholders. And 65% of IT staff’s decision-making responsibilities extend beyond their titled scope.

Understanding all the participants in the buying decision is key to understanding which personas you need to reach. Including these additional personas can make your marketing much more effective.

2. Using Inaccurate Data & Assumptions

It’s important to use the best and most recent research about job roles, industries and companies. The best data comes from professional researchers in the past 12 months using sound research methods. You won’t always have access to such high-quality data, but the closer you can stick to these criteria the better.

We’ve worked with clients who think they know more than they do about their buyers, and our research uncovers a number of surprises. Sometimes that’s because of incorrect assumptions, and other times it’s because they’ve missed key changes in the market.

3. Using Dated Data

Just because you’ve executed personas in the past doesn’t mean they’re still accurate. If the past year has taught us nothing else, it’s that things can change very quickly. Things like mergers and acquisitions, demand spikes, technology advances and materials shortages—plus many other factors—lead to profound changes in roles, responsibilities and organizational strategies.

Keep tabs on big changes in your own industry and those of your buyers. Understand how your personas’ job roles and management structures are evolving. Any big changes are likely to affect the pain points they’re feeling and the factors that impact their decisions.

4. Getting Too Personal

Plenty of persona templates include personal attributes from hobbies to favorite music. One or two of these might help you bring your personas to life and remind you that your buyers are more than titles, they’re people. But the vast majority of these personal characteristics are distracting and meaningless. Stick to the ones that impact business decisions.

Update & Refine Your Personas

When you’re using marketing personas to direct your content, persona mistakes can be costly. Steer clear of these four common persona mistakes, and work with experienced partners who understand the nuances that shape the most valuable, actionable B2B marketing personas.

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