Apr 23, 2023 Fawn Hudgens

Top 3 ways not using buyer personas fails your business

Funny story. We set out to update an old blog from 2018, “15 amazing buyer persona facts that will blow your mind”, and turns out - all the stats online are old.

They’re from 2014, 2016, and 2020 at a stretch. You’ll see a lot of these around, like:

  • Using buyer personas in emails increases click-through rates by 14% and conversion rates by 10%, thereby driving 18x times more revenues than broadcast emails. OLD
  • Companies using personas acquire 24% more leads, 56% of which are higher quality - and reduce sales cycles by 36%. OLD
  • Persona-driven websites are 2-5x times more effective and easier to use by their targeted audiences. OLD

That’s not to say that they still don’t ring true and aren’t relevant in making the case - they do and they are. 

But it got us thinking. The reason there aren’t any new, convincing stats floating around the web is that it should be gospel by now that businesses do buyer personas. 

Sadly, it isn’t. We work with clients all the time who only have a general idea of who their buyers are - and that’s it. And it’s not just start-ups either. This has a bigger negative impact on your business than you realise:

  • Wasting time and resources (do you have any to spare?)
  • Creating friction between your sales and marketing teams
  • Losing revenue

Before we dive into these, let’s outline some basics.

What’s a buyer persona?

Buyer personas are a semi-hypothetical representation of the better part of your customer base. They should include things like gender, age, job title, business challenges and personal interests. This is key information to the success of your go-to-market strategy and any marketing and sales strategy you undertake after. 

You create You create them by learning what makes your customers tick. What makes them prefer you over a rival? What makes your product or service perceptually worse than your competitors?

No matter how many customers you have, you should always be able to box them into three clear categories:

  1. The Worst Customers - Often, you get these clients because your initial messaging wasn’t clear. Typically a by-product of reverse engineering your “ideal customer” to match your product or service. These often make up 20-40% of your current pre-persona client base. They don’t really know if your product or service is for them because the specifics haven’t been explained. You may find that your product or service is a general solution, often bringing complaints: too costly, hard to use, not boosting success, not enough support, etc.

  2. The Perfect Customers - These are the rare customers that simply engage and buy without hesitation. They are often well-educated about your product or service type and can be brand aligned or socially referred. These customers are infrequent but welcome and duly accepted. These often make up 10-20% of your client base.

  3. The Ideal Customers - These clients typically are your “bread and butter”. They require nurturing and coaxing through your marketing and sales funnels, but they convert consistently, do not give you a lot of headaches and typically makeup 40-60% of your customers. They know what they want, have been assessing your product along the way and potentially have already done the comparison with competitors/peer service providers.

The ambition is to spend time really analysing the ideal customer. By doing this over time, those ideal and perfect clients will appear more frequently. This occurs as you start accurately creating the messaging that will resonate with that persona and speed up marketing and sales conversions. Winning, right?

So back to those losses you’re racking up as we speak. 

Wasting time and resources

We get it. Out of the very long list of marketing things to do, going back to the basics and saying “who are our customers really?” seems like a lot of work when there are ads to create, social media posts to post, thought leadership content to build, a website to optimise - the list goes on.

However, all that marketing effort is never going to get the results you want if you don’t put the work in. Without them, you are implementing a scattergun approach to attracting your audience. Buyers are harder to get in front of than ever - and more overwhelmed than ever (the average person sees 10,000 ads a day). Which means you must be more focused than ever. 

The principles of inbound marketing are based on knowing the personality traits and preferences of your target audience. No matter what the marketing type, you need to identify who the customer is, what language they use, what messaging will resonate with them - and for what reason. 

60-70% of B2B content is not being used by sales and close to 75% of marketing leads never convert into a sale. Why? Without a reasonable understanding of what makes your targets tick, your promotions and content are unlikely to resonate or, more importantly, encourage them to take action. 

Marketing teams are under intense pressure to do more with less. This is always the case, but especially so in today’s economy. And it is possible. For example, Twilio, a leading B2B SaaS platform for customer engagement, reduced content production by 40% on the development and implementation of their buyer personas. 

Can you imagine what you could achieve with that time and resources?

Creating friction between your sales and marketing teams

If you’re in a battle to reduce friction and align your sales and marketing teams, you’re not alone. Gartner found that this is the top priority for sales leaders in 2023. Their biggest challenge? Lead qualification. 

62% of respondents said their sales and marketing teams qualify these differently, leading to ineffective customer engagement. 

Whilst this encompasses a process that goes beyond buyer personas - the latter is the first step to complete. Regardless of how each team qualifies a lead, they are not properly qualified to begin without your personas in place. It is critical that both your marketing and sales teams understand who that audience is and what they need, so they can work together to qualify and close. 

You cannot start to reduce friction between teams otherwise. FYI, aligned teams are 67% more efficient at closing deals (MarTech Alliance). 

Losing revenue

Wasted leads. Wasted time and resources creating those leads, chasing those leads and prospecting to replace them. Wasted energy in the blame game between sales and marketing. 

Here’s what else is impacted by not having personas in place:

  • Reduced rates of organic/unpaid website traffic
  • Reduced rates of conversion from paid traffic
  • Broad marketing and sales messaging in copy/content bringing the wrong traffic
  • Lack of understanding of what makes your product or service “a go” for your personas, resulting in longer and often failed sales cycles
  • Increase in assumption and guessing for outcomes by your marketing and sales teams
  • Reduction in brand intimacy with your personas, making it easy for your competitors to steal the lead and convert
  • More “worst customers”
  • Poor conversion levels

All of this reduces your bottom line. Can you afford that?

Buyer Persona Development

If you are now inspired and you want to know how you can develop your own personas for your business then download our eBook, The Ultimate Guide to Buyer Personas

Make it easier to attract the right type of customer over any ‘ol customer. Start making a positive impact on your business by getting a solid foundation in place now. 

Published by Fawn Hudgens April 23, 2023