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Kimye, the Cambridges and buyer personas

Written by Jason Groom
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Originally published
August 24 2016,
updated
July 13 2020
Have you ever noticed just how similar Kanye West and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge are? At first sight the thirty-something global celebrities have a lot in common. Style icons for wives, two children a-piece (a boy and a girl) they’re in positions of influence, have an international following and are “papped” mercilessly wherever they go.

OK, it’s a trick question. But only one we posed to highlight that, while the data indicators can point one way, the truth of a situation can often be headed in an entirely different direction. Looking at demographics alone is a sure-fire way to miss the mark with buyer personas. Here’s a list of other what Hubspot calls “rookie mistakes” that are also easy to make:

  1. Creating too many

Hubspot recommends starting with just the one “core persona”. Having too many means there won't be a clear delineation between them all and, as a result, you’ll struggle to create an experience that resonates with any of them.

  1. Being too inclusive

There will always be some people that you won’t want as customers. Perhaps they can’t afford what you’re selling, are too difficult to reach, hard to satisfy? That’s OK, so be careful not to waste time targeting them at the expense of those that do have a better fit.

  1. Thinking about marketing in isolation

Well thought through and fully formed buyer personas should be shared across the organisation. They have great value to others that are customer-facing, particularly sales, service and retention teams.

  1. Positioning personas as individuals

Rather than looking at individuals (not Kanye nor William!) seek instead to create a profile of those with similar challenges, goals, desires and needs, in order to come up with a collection of characteristics that, combined, make up an “ideal customer”.

  1. Not keeping it real

Don’t be too aspirational when crafting your buyer personas and risk creating an unrealistic expectation of how your ideal customer looks.

  1. Not doing the research

Gut feeling and guesswork has no place in developing buyer personas; research trumps anecdotal evidence and assumptions every time. Other teams within the business will have insight in to customer needs and behaviour, so be sure to include their intelligence too.

  1. Over-complicating persona development

Buyer personas take time but they’re not rocket science. They also don’t have to be weighty and too detailed, at least not in the first instance. See them as time invested and recognise what a help they will be to your marketing strategy, campaign planning and content creation.

Still think Kanye and Wills are two peas in a pod? Ask Taylor Swift who she’d prefer a duet with, she’ll set you straight!

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