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Why Generic Personas Could Make Your Lead Generation Less Effective

Creating and using buyer personas is better than taking a shotgun approach to lead generation and nurturing. But that will get you only so far.

At some point, most VARs have dabbled in trying to define their ideal buyer personas. Typically, that process begins with giving each customer group a name—i.e., “Chris the IT Guy” or “Matt the Marketing Executive”—and then evolves into associating pain points or company issues with each of those personas.

Simply put, these personas are designed to be fictional representations of ideal customer types (tip of the cap to Hubspot for that definition), and the goal of creating them is to deliver more relevant nurturing and lead-generation campaigns to more targeted groups of customers. For instance, if you’ve identified the “Chris the IT Guy” persona as someone who cares about streamlining IT infrastructure and improving customer experiences, you can tailor your campaigns with messaging that hits on those issues.

Sounds straightforward enough, right?

Here’s the problem: Far too often, VARs’ personas miss the mark because they don’t go beyond defining a few simple criteria—namely, who the ideal customer is and which issues its company cares about most. Those things matter, of course, but those simplistic criteria don’t paint a complete picture and they often fail to describe what actually makes a decision-maker tick.

While it’s great to know the business objectives and pain points "Chris the IT Guy" is trying to solve, wouldn’t it be more powerful if you also knew his personal issues, fears, motivators and objectives? That information certainly would make it easier to appeal to someone on a much deeper level, wouldn’t it? Unfortunately, most personas fail to deliver that value because they focus too heavily on company issues and not enough on an individual’s motivators, environment, behavior and personal pain points.

So, how can you address that?

Start by tightening your focus on an individual decision-maker's internal and external influences, both of which will help you better understand who (and what) else might factor into buying decisions. On a deeper level, that might mean identifying language, terminology or interests that are relevant to key influencers or decision-makers, and studying prospect behavioral patterns to better qualify buying stage-specific interests, needs and pain points.

Is that an easy process? Of course not. But putting in the extra effort very often will yield much stronger long-term lead-generation and nurturing results.

The bottom line is that creating and using buyer personas—even broad ones—is better than taking a shotgun approach to lead generation and nurturing. But, as you might expect, leveraging generic personas will get you only so far. By digging bit deeper into what makes your prospects tick, you’ll extract intelligence that allows you to create more powerful and relevant messaging—and that, obviously, will go a long way toward also helping you close the sale.

Is your business already leveraging detailed buyer personas to target specific decision-maker and influencer interests, objectives, and pain points? If so, what lessons would you share? If not, how are generic personas hindering your ability to deliver targeted messaging to key prospects? Please get the discussion started by sharing your thoughts in the comments section below.

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