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7 Persona mistakes and how to avoid them

You have developed personas and realise: it has brought you nothing? Avoid these 7 mistakes and your persona work will bear fruit - guaranteed.

Mistake 1: Personas are based on assumptions, not data

Personas are supposed to represent a person who stands for a certain target group that you want to reach with your products. With personas, customers and all those who want to become customers get a face. They provide an insight into life circumstances, problems, goals, pain points, needs and attitudes. However, this only works if all information about the persona is based on data. Personas have nothing to do with gut feeling, they are based on order data, analytics figures, survey data, representative studies. The danger: They focus on (potential) customers who in reality do not exist. The solution: Use existing data and enrich it with study results, conduct interviews and use representative data, such as that of the Data-based personas of the Persona Institute.

Mistake 2: Developing too many personas

A persona for every season, seasonal collection, product line? No! The danger: They get bogged down. The solution: First of all, start with a persona. This usually results in factors that establish a second or at most a third persona - and these are usually not demographic characteristics, but motivations, buying behaviour, values.

Mistake 3: Do not develop personas further

Every person evolves. So after you have developed a persona, it must not just stand still. The danger: The longer a persona stays as it is, the worse it reflects your customers. The solution: Regularly review your personas. In practice, it has proven useful to do this at least once a year and to adapt the persona to current market conditions and social developments.

Mistake 4: Creating personas for marketing only

Personas are an important tool for all marketers. But of course they can also help product development, the sales department or recruiting. The danger: The persona created only knows one department in the company - all others act past the persona and have another target group in mind. The solution: Make the persona(s) as well known as possible. Introduce them to everyone. Spread persona knowledge by exemplifying seeing everything you do in the eye of the customer. This is how Customer Centricity of the future works.

Mistake 5: When developing the persona, focus on things that are actually irrelevant

The persona is 47 years old, light blond, drives a red convertible and has shoe size 45. The danger: Your persona is too much about describing socio-demographics and visual characteristics. The solution: Focus on characteristics that play a role in the purchase decision: What drives the person, what are pain points, needs? Does it appeal more to emotion or rationality? When does the persona shop? Where? What? Why?

Mistake 6: The persona is not brought to life

After you have created the persona, the results with colourful pictures go onto a flipchart or PowerPoint slides and are sent to the relevant employees by e-mail - the end. The danger: The personas disappear in the drawer and play no role in daily work. The solution: Bring personas into the company. Let them come to life: Picture them on posters, have them write their own blog on the intranet. Make a persona podcast. Hold workshops in which you present the personas.

Mistake 7: The Buyer Persona only knows one area of the company

Creating personas and developing them further is the responsibility of marketing and that is where the persona remains. Transparency: a dead end. The danger: Each department cooks its own soup and has different target groups in mind. The solution: See personas as part of a continuous change process in your company. Personas are the basis for customer-centric processes. They enrich customer data with insights from personas and vice versa. Text: Regina Grein
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