Recently, I’ve seen an increase in the number of blog posts about buyer personas and the reasons not to spend time creating them. Some authors argue that going through the exercise of creating them yields little benefit. After all, they argue, who knows their customers better than small business owners themselves. The process and exercise of clearly defining their target audience just frustrates them and does not help them develop content that will attract their prospects.
Others are less harsh and state that they do agree it’s a good idea to have a general idea of who your target audience is but it’s not worth spending a lot of time on…they recommend more of a one and done approach.
If you’re a regular reader of The Demand Creator Blog, then you know that we believe in buyer personas. Truly understanding who you want to be a hero to is the foundation of a successful demand generation program. Without clearly defined buyer personas, it will be difficult, at best, for your organization to be successful.
Unless, of course, these 27 things apply to your approach. Then, by all means, ignore buyer personas.
1. You really like hard sales cycles with little chance of winning.
2. You like creating content no one reads.
3. You sell to robots.
4. You don’t really care about your margins so commoditization is no big deal.
5. You’re more interested in what your spouse thinks of your message than the people who will actually write you a check.
6. You want to attract the wrong people to your website.
7. You only created your blog for fun.
8. You like teaching your salespeople how to handle the same situation over and over again.
9. Lead generation is not important to your business.
10. There is no Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT) in your business.
11. Your goal in 2016 is to waste as much of your marketing budget on irrelevant tactics as possible.
12. Your sales reps enjoy engaging with prospects that will never buy from your organization.
13. You think search traffic is overrated, and it’s a fad that certain to go the way of the fax machine.
14. You already know your target audience so well that you can’t keep up with demand for your products or services (oh wait, if this is the case you already know your personas).
15. You like misalignment, chaos and confusion between sales and marketing (and the rest of your company).
16. You believe in the philosophy that it’s your customers and prospects that should care about you, you shouldn’t have to care about them.
17. Growth is not part of your business strategy.
18. You don’t want to make hiring successful salespeople predictable.
19. You just want to be friends with people in LinkedIn groups.
20. You like throwing sh&t against the wall to find out what sticks.
21. You like promoting your business on Facebook even though your customers and prospect don’t use it.
22. You have an unlimited budget for trade shows and events so it doesn’t matter if your customers and prospects actually attend.
23. You’re not interested in developing sales qualified leads.
24. Your content has no focus – and that’s how you like it.
25. You think lead nurturing is a waste of the email it was written on.
26. You don’t like learning from your experiences to improve your efforts going forward.
27. You don’t care about delighting customers.
Of course, no one conducts their business with these goals or ideas in mind. We decided just to have a little fun with you to drive home our point once again…clearly defined buyer personas are critical to growth. You cannot reach your growth goals without them.
It’s never too late to create your personas. If you haven’t defined yours, start 2016 by scheduling a meeting with your marketing, sales, customer service, sales development (and anyone else who interacts with customers and prospects on a regular basis) teams to start the process. Our Buyer Persona Workbook will walk you through the process.
If you have personas, make sure they’re up-to-date. They’re meant to be living documents that get revisited on a regular schedule. Don’t let them fade. Create a schedule to update them regularly.
Once you have them, use them. They should influence every part of your demand generation process.
It does take time to create effective buyer personas. But at this time next year when you are analyzing your results, you’ll be happy you did.