Three ways to create ideal customer personas that do their jobs better

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October 2023
In B2B marketing, personas can be valuable tools for message segmentation. When they’re conceived correctly, marketers connect buyers with critical buying moments on an emotional level, which drives higher brand value and delivers greater campaign results.
Unfortunately, many personas can fall short of capturing today’s buyers.

What are common mistakes marketers make when creating personas?

We recently reviewed published best practices, along with enterprise and mid-market examples, and pinpointed three common shortcomings in the persona development process. These issues made personas less valuable and misled teams as they developed websites, content strategies, and campaigns.

  • Budget and timeline constraints. Teams often believe they don’t have the resources or time to update current personas. So, they miss the fact that buyers are buying in different ways — and in different sequences — that don’t match the traditional marketing funnel.
  • High-level analysis. Many of today’s so-called best practices personas do little but aggregate pain points. These lists can lack critical details about the specific content or information buyers expect at different points in their very personal buying journeys. Instead, marketers share too much information all at once, creating sub-optimal customer experiences.
  • Missing the moments that matter. Research or “tribal knowledge” within the company may leave out the true peak experiences — good and bad — that marketers can amplify to create greater emotional connections. Marketers may also miss the bad experience, or “pits,” that must be filled to create positive moments that matter.

When you build personas without addressing these issues, you create fractured experiences that skip emotional connections, and fail to capture the pipeline and bookings your products deserve.

How you can do personas better.

Here are ways any B2B marketer can avoid those mistakes:

  • Use workshops and focus groups to reduce time and cost. Take a workshop approach to creating personas by putting the internal stakeholders in a room to create your first draft — then validate that draft in the marketplace. We suggest qualitative focus groups or interviews, because you can dig deeper and have dialogs around critical ideas like moments that matter. This qualitative approach reduces timelines and costs. Don’t just interview SMEs inside your company — you need to uncover today’s truths in the marketplace.
  • Capture the moments that matter. Real B2B decision-makers don’t spend all day thinking about your offerings — but there are specific moments in their day or week that leave them craving a better solution. They also face barriers to their personal motivations to change. Build these moments into your personas to connect with real buyers more effectively.
  • Create more dynamic details in your personas. “When” matters just as much as the “what.” Decision-makers solve problems in small steps that progress through emotional decisions, not stages of the Awareness-Consideration-Intent pipeline. By capturing needs by major emotional states, your personas will help you better understand these personal journeys, and, ultimately, the behaviors that truly lead to purchase and loyalty.

A persona should reflect an experience, not a static model.

Buyer personas should reflect the dynamic reality of the buying experience, not a static picture. When you don’t understand these experiences, you miss creating an emotional connection that drives higher purchase and loyalty.

By using these three steps to build better personas, your team will create ideal customer personas that connect more emotionally, build deeper brand loyalty, and drive greater campaign results.

Eric Meerschaert
Eric Meerschaert
Executive Director, Growth and Innovation
Eric gained his strategic background at Global 500 software companies and McKinsey & Co, where he learned that analytics, not instincts, drive the best B2B strategies.

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