You then expect to find a miracle cure by developing a few personae and pinning them to your wall. Honestly. This will just become another initiative that costs you and your team resources, and ultimately ends up as a toothless paper tiger in the drawer of oblivion.
Deliberately a little overdrawn, this article wants to point out preventable traps, which at best should be avoided in your company.
Persona profiles often disappear unused in the drawer, despite the sometimes extensive effort in the initial development. A sentence such as “Of course we have personas, but they are lying in our marketing department and are not used across departmental boundaries” is likely to leave you as a managing director just as bewildered as it does us.
But this experience is not uncommon. This kind of silo-thinking suffocates any attempt at enthusiastic customer relationships or a cross-departmental understanding of customers in the early stages.
If you were lucky enough to grow up in the 80s and 90s as a child and teenager like I did, then you know there were still a few traditional corner stores at that time. In Germany we used to call them “Tante Emma Läden” (aunt Emma stores). These were small stores, in which an older lady or an older gentleman had nearly the same range of products that you would find at a big discount store today. Except that they had a store area of about 10 square meters.
Aunt Emma’s concept had the following advantage: She knew her customers very well. She didn’t treat all her customers the same, no. Rather, she knew the preferences and types of shoppers and was thus able to cater to the different buying needs. Like this Aunt Emma managed to communicate very well on a 1:1 basis. An ability that many companies are envious of today.
In the following short paragraphs, we have compiled a few lessons we have learned in practice and from quite a few customer projects in this field.
Probably the most common mistake in connection with methods such as the Customer Persona or Buyer Persona is that it is understood as purely theoretical research work. The results with nice colorful pictures are then put on the whiteboard or on the wall, and that’s it. Wrong.
That’ s how it really works: The work on personae, just like the work on the customer empathy map, is not completed with the research. The initial research serves to set up hypotheses, which should then be validated or invalidated by an in-depth interview with target customers and target personae.
The creation and constant further development of personae do not serve a pure end in themselves. The company as a whole is not transparent, which means that every department is cooking its own soup. That’s a waste of time.
This is how it works better: Customer-centric processes in your company help here. In this way, you enrich customer data with insights from the personae and vice versa.
As mentioned above, it has become quite hip to collect pretty colorful pictures of customer personas and then proudly pin them on the wall or flip charts. If this concludes the work on personas, then you can directly save yourself the effort from the very beginning.
This is where you really apply the insights from the persona work:
Many company managers have already failed at Persona work. It may look extremely easy, but then you are mostly only working on the surface.
Therefore: Go deeper to understand your target group, enrich the personae bit by bit, work with them and, above all, transport them within the company.
The term “target group” refers to all the people you want to attract with your solutions, products and services. A target group is a subgroup of the entire market. You create a target group analysis to achieve market segmentation.
There are several ways in which you can select this part of the entire market:
Unlike a target group, a buyer persona has a face. It is a fictitious person representing your typical customer.
This concept will make it easier for you to better understand the needs, challenges and actions of your ideal customers.
Collect internal data and information
Communicate with the customer
Compile, prepare and enrich findings
Creating a good Customer or Buyer Persona is not a one-time thing that is then put away. Better think of it as a live working document that becomes more and more detailed and accurate over time.
The steps to create it are more like a cycle and should be gone through time and again accordingly:
As a founder and entrepreneur, I experience every day how important customer focus is for companies.
Integrate the essential customer perspective into your product genesis and marketing processes. That puts PS on the street, that it runs.
Workshop B2B Market Positioning
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