developing buyer personas common mistakes to avoid

Developing Buyer Personas: Common Mistakes to Avoid

In our last blog post, we talked about what buyer personas are—and how to create effective ones for your senior living community. Today, we’re getting into common mistakes to avoid when developing buyer personas. 

Don’t skimp on the investment. 

Developing effective buyer personas takes work. And it can be challenging for people approving budgets to understand what buyer personas are—and what the deliverables are going to be. You’re not getting a tangible “thing” in the conventional sense, like a website, brochure, or even a banner ad.  

In fact, buyer personas won’t ever be customer-facing. And each persona is only a couple of pages, max. You’ll use them internally to guide your messaging and the timing for your marketing automation. Because they’re an internal tool, it can be easy to think they‘re not that important . . . or that you can skimp on the investment. 

Resist this temptation! Personas are critical to conversions. Strong personas will help you better understand what messages and campaigns will resonate and help convert buyers at various stages during the sales cycle.  

Now, we’re not going to lie: Developing buyer personas is an investment of time, resources, and money (especially if you outsource the work to an agency). But it’s money well spent. 

Don’t skimp on the process. 

You create buyer personas through research, surveys, and interviews with happy residents and lost prospects. You talk to your sales team. You look at competitors. 

Once you gather all your research and intel, you craft polished narratives for each persona—one- to two-page documents that tell the persona’s story and highlight key things that influence their decisions and what’s driving them to make the move to senior living in the first place. 

Again, all of this work takes time. Throwing something together quickly based on hunches or what you wish your ideal buyers were like won’t serve your marketing goals over the long haul. 

And yet we still see too many marketers create personas on the fly so they can check off that box. Sure, you’ll get some things right. But you won’t be creating a well-rounded persona. And we guarantee you’ll miss key nuggets that can differentiate your community and help create a compelling value proposition. 

Don’t create only one buyer persona. 

You have several ideal buyers you need to speak to. At the very least, you’ll be talking to older adults who are buying for themselves (either individually or as a couple) and adult children making decisions or influencing decisions. 

From there, you can break down personas further based on things like gender, age, and marital status. For example, if you have a community that caters to IL, AL, and MC, the IL personas will be very different from the MC personas. 

Don’t put your buyer personas in a drawer and forget about them. 

Buyers will change, and even more so over the next decade as Boomers come of age. Consider this: Some folks divide Baby Boomers into two cohorts—Boomers I and Boomers II. The older members of the first group are in their mid-70s. The youngest Boomers are only 58 (at the writing of this article in 2022).  

So you might divide your Boomer personas accordingly, since how you talk to a 75-year-old will be different from how you talk to someone approaching 60. (Not to mention that their needs will be different, too.) 

Our point: Persona research isn’t a once-and-done thing. You’ll need to tweak your personas and potentially do the process all over again every few years, just to make sure your marketing stays on track. 

Don’t forget to share your personas with key players.  

And we’re not just talking about the folks on the senior living sales team. Your personas are necessary for account managers, writers, designers, web folks, outsourced marketing agencies—you get the idea.  

You’ve put time and money into their development. But developing them is only the first step. Everyone needs to refer to the personas regularly as they craft web pages, advertisements, events, and the like. 

Don’t go it alone if you’re unsure how to create effective personas. 

Work with a marketing agency that has buyer persona expertise and experience in the senior living industry. That would be us! Get in touch and let’s discuss buyer personas.