Creating buyer personas is a crucial part of a successful inbound strategy. Buyer personas help you understand exactly who your customer is, what they are looking for, their pain points, and how your company is positioned to help them achieve their goals. Without them, your marketing efforts have nothing to grasp onto.

With an oversaturation of content in most markets, it is more important than ever to create content that stands out – for the right reasons. In order to successfully achieve that goal, you must have well-researched, documented buyer personas.

There is not a clear-cut process to researching and determining buyer personas. There are, however, some guidelines and best practices to follow as well as mistakes that can be made in the process. Don’t let your inbound campaigns fall short from lack of researched buyer personas. Here are a few common mistakes to avoid when creating your buyer personas:

1. Being Too Vague

No longer will the description of ‘Male, mid-30’s, moderate income’ suffice as a properly-defined buyer persona. Demographic information is still important, but outlining your persona has to reach beyond standard demographics – it has to include psychographic information.

Concentrate more on what the persona does for a living and for leisure, how their day looks, what their family life is like, what their priorities and values are, how they consume media, what challenges they face, and how they measure success — and define your personas around this information.

2. Not Thoroughly Researching Buyer Personas

What you perceive about your audience may not be a) accurate and b) the full picture. Inbound marketing requires targeted, calculated efforts in order to reach your ideal customer.

In order to gain an accurate description of your customer, start by conducting research that includes quantitative data and interviews with existing and potential customers on their buying habits and behaviors.

Not sure where or how to start your research? Start with asking questions to relevant parties – ie; your sales team, tenured employees, and long/short-term customers. From there, factor in market research and consumer buying trends (online AND offline).

Tip: Don’t be afraid to get ‘personal’ with the questions, too. Ask what kind of stores they like to shop at, what their interests are (sports, music, etc.), restaurants they enjoy, places they like to or want to travel to, how they unwind, etc. Think of it more as a conversation than an interview. You can gain some useful information from this particular line of questioning. Plus, no one wants to feel like they are speaking to a questionnaire, so making it more of a personal conversation will yield better results from the customer. I had a clothing store ask me what I wanted to be when I grow up. Best survey question EVER.

3. Focusing on Who You WANT to Target Instead of Your Customer

Sure, it’s important to establish, set, and continue to create goals. Without them, there isn’t room for growth and things become stagnant and potentially detrimental to your business’s productivity and longevity. However, when it comes to researching buyer personas, think more in terms of who your customer currently is instead of who you want them to be. If you don’t know who you are currently serving, how will you know who to target in the future?

Try to stay focused on the people you are currently serving. Once you are seeing success with your current personas, then you can create an ideal persona as a goal.

4. Creating Too Many Personas

As much as you want to be everything to everyone, you can’t be. That’s not to say you can’t have multiple personas – just be sure that the ones you are creating are truly your ideal customers and that they are attainable.

Creating too many personas can cause more headaches for you as a marketer because you are trying to target. Trying to aim for too many targets will make it nearly impossible for you to actually attract, engage, convert, and delight any of them.

Focus your efforts on core personas. Once you analyze the data outcome from the most successful customers, you will then be able to differentiate more personas.

5. Only Considering Current Customers

Don’t be afraid to talk to past customers. The questions don’t all have to be surrounding uncomfortable topics. Chances are, not every customer left because of a negative experience, though you will need to be comfortable gathering that information in the event that is the case.

Are you unsure of your buyer personas or how your company can benefit from an inbound strategy? Let’s chat.