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are marketing personas a load of rubbish?

Marketing Personas = Marketing Bollocks?

Posted in Inbound Marketing, Posted in Glossary by Holly Edwards on 10-Nov-2016 11:14:00

Few things get us more riled than marketing bollocks. Okay, maybe something beginning with Donald and ending with Trump? But marketing mumbo jumbo is a close-ish second. What pisses us off so much is that every new concept is sold as something every business ABSOLUTELY MUST HAVE, yet the businesses being targeted can’t afford to waste money on endeavours that won’t bring them a return. In fact, doing so can often halt a company before its even got going.

That brings us nicely on to buyer personas – can they be considered marketing bollocks? Well, they certainly sound it, we’ll give you that. I mean, the dictionary definition of a persona is: the aspect of someone's character that is presented to or perceived by others.

Fake as hell! Contrived by shady marketing folk to get money out of good, honourable businesses. Right?

Well - maybe not. They can prove to be really, bloody helpful. Hubspot – who gave us their certification a little while back (just saying!) – found that using marketing personas made websites 2-5 times more effective and easier to use by a targeted audience.

brush that dirt off your shoulders gif

However, it’s apparent that scepticism about the concept remains, with ITSMA finding that only 44% of B2B marketers use buyer personas.

So, let’s address what it is that is making entrepreneurs and marketers alike cast personas in the ‘marketing bollocks’ pile:

  • When creating buyer personas, the advice is to give your personas a name and a face – maybe even decide upon a persona’s favourite flavour of crisp, that sort of thing. Sounds like a bit of a waste of time, right?

 

  • They are a recent invention. Where was mention of buyer personas prior to 2010? Modern invention? Modern bollocks, more like.

 

  • Some guesswork is required. Sure it’s calculated guesswork, but we shouldn’t be guessing at what our customers like in 2016, should we? Let’s stick to the data-driven stuff, yeah?

 

  • There is the assumption that a business owner doesn’t know their audience. Surely they know their audience better than anyone else? In fact, they probably are their audience. What a waste of time.

 

ain't nobody got time for that gif

Fair points, well made. However, once you start actually creating your buyer personas, you begin to realise those misgivings you had were ill-founded - if you're doing it right. Great buyer personas ARE based on data-driven insights, and any guesswork required to give your personas more depth comes from that source. 

By combining data with actual, real-life conversations, you can feasibly decipher what flavour of crisp is favoured by your customers – or whatever detail it is that would allow you to better personalise your marketing for that audience. For inspiration on what kind of questions to be asking your metaphorical personas, and a handy place to store all that info, you might want to download our free persona template below.

Converse, Convert & Crush Targets - Free Persona Guide

As far as personas being a modern invention? That bears some truth, but only because there is a reliance on technology to provide us with the data to make accurate judgements of our customers. It was only in 2011 that Google Analytics launched Real Time analytics, lest we forget.

Also, while you might have created the perfect business that you love and would love to buy from, you’re seeing the business through the eyes of the owner, which makes you inherently biased – your customers will probably see your business very differently.

Personas, then, are there to offer you some clarity – not to cause confusion. However, confuse you they will if you don’t go about it systematically. Otherwise you’ll have a generic ‘old white man’ staring back at you, which is of no use to anyone - correct?

donald trump correct gif

Tags: Inbound Marketing, Glossary

Holly Edwards

Holly Edwards

Holly is the long form content specialist at Noisy Little Monkey. She blogs about content marketing and cats. And gifs.