About a year ago, we had a great idea for targeting one of our Buyer Personas, Admin Ally, with a promotional product campaign. Through our research on Ally, we knew she would get excited about receiving samples of new products, so we developed the Swag Bag Campaign.
We spent time strategizing, developing landing pages, CTAs and workflows, crafting email messages, and ordering extra products. When it was time to launch the campaign, we sat back and waited for the requests to roll in.
And nothing happened.
Had we used the wrong messaging? Was our timing off? Why had our brilliant campaign failed so spectacularly?
The answer: we had made fundamentally incorrect assumptions about Admin Ally. Not only was some of our information about her inaccurate, but we had spent time working on a campaign that targeted one of our least profitable Personas.
This scenario happens to companies all the time. They think their carefully crafted Buyer Personas are accurate, only to discover some fundamental flaws.
How can your Buyer Personas be wrong? Here are some examples:
- The information you used to create the Personas is inaccurate. It might come from anecdotal information, be outdated, or simply be based on assumptions.
- You’re not focusing on the Persona that drives the most revenue. The information may technically be correct, but the Persona should be a lower priority.
- You have too many or too few Buyer Personas. If you have too many, it’s difficult to narrow the focus enough to be actionable (and the real differences between the Personas are usually insignificant). If you have too few, you may be missing opportunities for deeper targeting.
Here are three major ways the wrong Buyer Personas can hurt your business:
1. Attracting Unqualified Leads
Time. Money. Resources. They’re extremely valuable, yet always limited. So don’t throw them away by attracting the wrong prospect to your business.
Buyer Personas are meant to help Sales and Marketing target their efforts as effectively as possible. If you’re focusing your sales and marketing efforts on the wrong Buyer Personas, you are wasting time, money and resources targeting the wrong types of people. When you have an abundance of unqualified leads, something’s wrong. You have to either lower your standards for what qualifies as an ideal customer, or turn down business—and both hurt.
A case of too many unqualified leads is usually a result of inaccurate Persona information. Did you make guesses and assumptions about your Personas? Did you base them on outdated data? If you find that the wrong leads are turning up over and over, it’s time to overhaul your Personas.
2. Developing the Wrong Products and Services
It’s natural—and smart—for businesses to adapt their products and services to what their customers are looking for. You want to solve challenges and pains points for your Personas, so you help them with what they need to the best of your ability.
Only, what if you’re offering things they don’t actually need?
Catering to the wrong Buyer Personas will cause you to waste your efforts on developing new products and service areas that will end up costing you money, not making you money.
Any business that hopes to grow today needs to adapt to the changing challenges and desires of their customers. But don’t let the wrong Buyer Personas inform major business decisions that will hurt you.
3. Creating Misalignment in Your Company
Did you think Buyer Personas were just around to help Marketing and Sales?
If you’re using them correctly, Buyer Personas should be doing more than just informing Marketing and Sales. Everyone at your company should know and love your personas. It creates unity and gets everyone on the same page when you can all speak the same language about—and to—your customers.
But any inaccuracies in your Personas could cause a dangerous misalignment that will hurt your business. Are there discrepancies about a Persona between departments? Do your employees have misconceptions about a Persona? Those misalignments can lead to costly oversights and failures, whether it’s disqualifying a perfect potential customer or speaking to someone the wrong way on the phone.