I’ve done lots of client/customer personas but I’ve never found them useful

For customer personas to be useful, they need to feel alive and part of your business.  Maybe in the past you’ve gone through the motions but not invested all that it takes.  In the ideal world, you’ll have few personas but they’ll be deep and you’ll feel that you almost know them better than they know themselves.  If that’s not the case – then maybe that’s why they haven’t been valuable in your marketing or communications.

Creating customer personas can be a valuable exercise for gaining insights into your target audience.  If you’ve done some in the past but never found them useful, it’s possible that you either haven’t gone deep enough or haven’t really bought into the idea. Here are a few reasons why customer personas may not have been helpful in your experience:

1. Lack of Research: Customer personas should be based on thorough research and data. If the personas weren’t adequately grounded in real customer insights, they may not accurately represent your target audience’s needs and behaviours and may not therefore feel useful.

2. Insufficient Detail: Customer personas need to go beyond basic demographics and include a rich understanding of psychographics, behaviours, role, pain points, decision-making power and motivations. If your previous personas were too generalised or lacked depth, they may not provide actionable insights to help with your marketing strategies.

3. Failure to Align with Strategy: Customer personas should align with your business goals and marketing strategy. If the personas were not directly tied to your specific objectives or if they did not inform your decision-making process, they might not have been effective.

4. Lack of Communication and Implementation: Customer personas should be shared and understood by all relevant team members, including marketing, sales, product development, and customer support. If the personas weren’t effectively communicated or if they weren’t integrated into day-to-day operations, their usefulness might have been limited.

5. Failure to Update and Validate: Customer preferences, behaviours, and market trends evolve and change over time. If the personas weren’t regularly updated and validated with current data, they might have become outdated and less relevant, resulting in reduced usefulness.

To make customer personas more valuable:

  • Ensure thorough research and data collection to gather accurate and up-to-date insights.
  • Include a comprehensive range of information, going beyond demographics to capture psychographics, behaviors, and motivations.
  • Align the personas with your business objectives and marketing strategies.
  • Communicate the personas across teams and incorporate them into decision-making processes.
  • Regularly update and validate the personas with fresh data to maintain their relevance.

Remember, customer personas are tools meant to provide a deeper understanding of your target audience. While they can be helpful, it’s also essential to consider other factors, such as real-time data, customer feedback, and market trends, to continuously refine your strategies and approaches.

Maybe dig out your old personas and see how up to date they are.  They should be a good starting point for creating more dynamic, more useful tools.

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