The concept of personas in marketing has been around a while and some companies are quick to point out how great they are about creating these various "buyer personas." Some like to get cute with their naming conventions and they use catchy little titles like "Marketing Mary" or "Sales Sam" or "Buyer Bob." But at the end of the day there is a massive and fatal flaw with this ridiculous and incredibly time-consuming busy work. And the overworked marketer suffers.
A rose by any other name
Creating a persona is nothing more than a marketer wasting their valuable time to create a segment for their marketing campaigns. They are attempting to do the exact opposite of what they should be doing as a marketer. And the overt, egregious trumpeting of the elaborate process of creating personas as a pinnacle in marketing automation is a travesty. No flashy website with cute animations and the ability to change a background color makes up for this embarrassing display of antiquity.
These brands which herald the buyer persona as "the hot exciting thing" and tout the benefits of creating multiple buyer personas for their audience using some kitschy web app are doing nothing but slowing the progress of marketing automation. They misunderstand not only how to use modern technology but they fail to properly encourage marketer's in their knowledge and understanding. Don't get sucked into their trap. If you stumble upon one of these SaaS companies claiming to work in "marketing automation" and offering this type of service...run away.
You see the problem here is these companies fail to understand the very concept of marketing automation. They may have pivoted from other products and services to focus on marketing automation because the trend is hot and the space is growing...but they have not shifted their thinking fully to embrace the true meaning of marketing automation.
Of course the idea of personalized marketing is a common one and these faux-marketing automation brands would have you believe you can use persona and personal interchangeably when considering marketing automation...but there is a massive difference. A persona groups everyone together by a "bucket" mentality and then allows you to market to the entire group as a single persona.
I understand their thinking but disagree with the conclusion. Personalized marketing should allow you to target the individual, not the group. Personas might give you an idea how to market to a group and help you segment an audience, but please, please don't consider this the solution to your marketing efforts. And please don't consider this to be personalized marketing automation.
Look forward and think different
Rather than focusing on shiny new terms for old methods let's consider the future of marketing automation. Let's put the power of marketing automation, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and everything else in today's modern marketer's toolkit to work to create a better future. Let's think proactively about how marketer's can maximize their talents. Don't waste time doing mundane, outdated, repetitive tasks which could be completed by an intelligent marketing automation platform. Let the machine do the work of learning your audience and personalizing the experience. The intelligent platform can create individual experiences, not grouped, bulk, one-size-fits-all persona experiences.
Because let's be really honest - The future is personalized marketing not persona marketing.
I should conclude by saying there is nothing inherently wrong with personas. In fact, they are valuable tools if you have no idea who your audience is and you need a thought exercise to help you analyze who your target market should be. But don't consider this your solution when implementing marketing automation. Personas serve a vastly different purpose.