Business | Content Marketing

When can personas fail?

Personas are helpful tools for Marketing and UX work. So, why do they often fail? Let’s talk about the pitfalls that cause personas to fail and how to avoid and overcome them.

To understand your customer better, you need to have a persona. A Persona is a fictional representation and generalization of a cluster of your target users who exhibit similar attitudes, goals, and behaviors with your product. They are based on user research.

Now, let us talk about the most common pitfalls that cause personas to fail and provide strategies for future success.

Why do Personas fail?

  1. No planned action or clear goal – The biggest root cause of persona failure is pursuing persona creation without a planned action or clear goal. The goal should be to place the persona in production with the right strategy, an action plan, and a team that will apply it wisely.
  2. Overwhelming number of personas – Creating a long list of personas based on different research is one of the other reasons for personas to fail. It is difficult but very important to reduce them to just a handful of types. Having too many personas undermine the meaning of it.
  3. No buy-in – Established brands may feel that they already have the pulse of their customers and know the type of users they are dealing with. This can negatively impact the persona research process or may mean that even valid persona insights go unrecognized.
  4. Personas aren’t tied to the real world – Meaningful relationships are only built with real humans and not one-dimensional, hypothetical people. Tie your personas with real people. Use a participant as the basis for each persona.
  5. Created in silos – Sometimes, personas are created in silos with a single goal in mind. This can backfire without larger buy-in or communication as the personas are forced on team members outside of those silos, making them reluctant to use ’em.
  6. Using too much irrelevant data – In a few cases, the data used is not pertinent to the goal at hand. The personas can look and feel powerful, but they aren’t relevant in practice.
  7. Believing personas are done and perfect – Sometimes, brands hold them up as an unwavering beacon once a persona is created. They need to understand that personas are only models, which means they’re flexible and not static. They’ll change as your sales environment, audience, and market change. For example: Take the COVID-19 pandemic and the fact that people interact very differently with services today than in past years.

If you have had a failed persona experience at your company, the reason could be one of the common pitfalls I listed above. Find out where you went wrong and then right the ship. If you are creating personas for the very first time, use these pitfalls as a checklist to avoid and address these challenges as you go.

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