The 10 Rules for Creating a Buyer Persona: Rule 7

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When MS Excel came into existence many years ago, it was a significant leap in computing power.  The uses for MS Excel have grown far beyond the basic computations it was designed for.  Graphs, tables, charts, matrixes and the likes are all very common to what people can now do with MS Excel.  You can add data into many rows and columns almost infinitum it seems. 

It also seems that in the concept of buyer personas, there has been misguided efforts to engage in an oversimplified process of creating a composite of many data points.  The outcome being buyer personas resembling a wire mesh of columns and rows that have every conceivable bit of information on the “what” of a buyer persona.  This leads me to the next rule:

Rule 7: Avoid Building a Wire Mesh of Data Points When Creating Buyer Personas

It is a natural tendency to layer data on top of data.  We desire to find out as much as possible about a buyer persona.  When the wire mesh effect happens it is a result of three problems:

  1. Buyer persona creation is viewed as a composite profiling exercise and not a development process with distinct stages.
  2. There is a lack of qualitative and experiential analysis that provides deep insight thus a reliance on finding as many data points as possible via internal or survey oriented vehicles.
  3. An over emphasis on what buyer personas do versus on the insight that can inform customer strategy.

The downside to the wire mesh effect is that it perpetuates the attempt to fit buyers and segments into neat boxes.  This type of approach creates a counter to the value of buyer personas which is to gain deep insights into buyer’s goals that are translated into informing customer strategies. 

The wire mesh effect on building buyer personas as oppose to viewing buyer personas as a development process results in a poor foundation on which to make informed decisions in many areas.  Both the B2C and the B2B world are changing extremely fast as digital marketing and social media evolves.  Creating buyer personas resembling a wire mesh can leave you on the outside looking in. 

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