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Inbound Marketing Blog

    Why Buyer Personas Aren't Actually a Silver Bullet

    Posted by Jasmine Henry

    Are YOU Guilty of Micropersonification?


    Micropersonification definitely isn’t a real word, but it’s also a pretty terrible marketing tactic.

    The problem with inbound marketing is that it’s really new. Marketers have figured out many of the best practices for making television ads, radio commercials and direct mail, but consumers have also figured out these really cool ways to circumvent interruption marketing in the first place. Like Spotify, Netflix, the FTC’s do-not-call list, and recycling bins. So here we are, blazing a new frontier where we market to people who want to be marketed to. Pioneers are bound to make a few mistakes along the way. We’re now pleased to announce that marketing too heavily toward buyer personas is a terrible idea, and we’ll never do it again.

    Don’t Get Us Wrong, We Still Love Buyer Personas.

    Any time we sign a new client at IMA, the inaugural conversation includes buyer personas. No one has time for irrelevant marketing in 2013, and buyer persona profiles are the single most-effective way to understand who your prospects are. A great buyer persona profile will delve deeply into the psychographic characteristics that attract a customer to your company in the first place. A less-useful buyer persona profile will include pages of detail about why a client has a serious aversion to the color orange. An even worse idea is using these overly-detailed profiles to write content that’s titled something like 11.5 Reasons Orange is the Worst Color Ever.

    Down with Micropersonification.

    It’s really difficult to create content calendars month after month that are filled with super-original ideas. Especially if you’re in a pretty boring industry that doesn’t change frequently. It’s tempting to transition into talking about concepts that are relevant to your buyer personas, which our CEO Bill Faeth has not-so-fondly dubbed “micropersonification.” Say my ideal client was a 40 year-old CEO who might buy a private jet from my company. While a lot of the content he consumes online is probably about business strategy, he doesn’t want to read content about business strategy that’s written by a private jet manufacturer. Make sense? Here’s three reasons why you should resist the siren’s song of micropersonification:

    1. You are the Authority On Your Product or Service

    The internet has made everyone with a Facebook, Twitter, or Wordpress a publisher, and every internet user a skeptic. A person’s authority and digital influence matter, and you’re not going to develop a dedicated readership if you’re cranking out fluffy content. Consumers aren’t going to take you very seriously if you’re a blogger at a food storage company who is writing about effective networking, even if that’s a topic of interest to your buyer personas. And it’s hard to build a community if no one takes you seriously.

    2. You Have to Answer Customer Questions

    Your prospects are busy, smart people. That’s why they’re using Google to find out what they need to know about your product or service solution. If they stumble across your website and find out you don’t have fresh content on your product or pricing topics, but instead have been writing about sheep-shearing, they’re going to go somewhere else for answers.

    3. Your SEO and Organic Search Will Go to Seed

    I’m confident that a significant portion of our IMA blog readers use an iPhone. However, if I were to start blogging about iPhone apps, our SEO would go to seed. First, the chances of us ever ranking on the first page of Google for the search term “iPhone” are about zero. Second, we’d no longer be optimizing in any way, shape, or form around the search terms that actually bring people to our website. Tracking keyword density might be out, but blogging about topics that have nothing to do with your company is definitely not a smart SEO move.

    In conclusion, if someone asks me in the future how the heck they can create content about their boring product, I will not smugly respond “buyer personas.” I’m going to say, “Well you know, it’s really difficult to create custom content week in and week out, and it’s even more challenging when your business is pool liners, kitten mittens, or steel parts. Buyer personas are a critical piece of the puzzle, but newsjacking, covering industry trends, curating video content, and infographics are too.”

    TL;DR?

    Buyer personas are still the answer. They’re just not the only answer, and they’re no silver bullet.

    What do you think?

     

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    Topics: Inbound Marketing