Are you building marketing personas with AI? Here’s how to avoid a big mistake.

Date: May 15, 2024
Author: Kristin Zhivago

AI has the unfortunate characteristic of being addictive. If you are a marketer, it can make you believe you are doing the right thing when, in fact, you have completely missed the mark. This is especially true when AI is used to build marketing personas. 

Let’s think of it this way. Let’s say that you are the target market for someone selling something. Anything. 

Let’s say they hang around your house and watch your movements. What you wear, when you go out and come home, what kind of car you drive, how fancy your house is, the neighborhood you live in, and even which kinds of things you like to buy. 

Armed with this information, they start to build their marketing plan. 

Trouble is, everything they create will be missing the mark. 

Why? Because using this method, they still won’t know the information that is the real driver behind every successful sale: Their customer’s Mindset when they set out to buy. 

Their customer’s Mindset consists of the very specific desires, concerns, and questions they had in mind when they set out to buy. 

This is not something generic. 

If they don’t know specifically why you bought their product or service, in your own words, then all their marketing messages will not resonate with other buyers like you.  

They also will not know:

      • How you prefer to be sold to, and what makes it easier for you to buy. 

        • What you really care about and what motivates you to make a buying decision. 

          • The exact language you use when describing what you were looking for, the problem you were trying to solve, and what you wish companies like theirs would do. 

            • Where and how you’d look for their solution. 

              • The barriers to the sale that you’ve encountered while trying to buy this type of product or service in the past, or from other sellers.   

                • The trends that have motivated you to search for their solution.

                  • The challenges you face in relation to their product or service. 

                AI stalking is a more sophisticated form of guessing. 

                Let’s go back to me writing to you as a marketer, not a customer. 

                AI-assisted personas make you even more confident in the personas you have created without ever actually interviewing your buyers. 

                Guessing and assuming are the norm, not the exception, in spite of plenty of evidence proving that marketing results always increase when the marketing copy uses your customer’s own specific phrases. 

                You’ll be shocked at how much of a positive effect customer-generated language will have on all your marketing results! You can change one sentence in an ad or site subhead and watch your conversions double. 

                Once  you’ve had conversations with your customers and use their own words in your copy, when they come to your site or encounter other marketing content, they will think: That’s me! They get it

                They will trust you because they know you understand what they’re going through. 

                No amount of clever marketing content can out-convert customer-language content. Period.

                How to get the info you need . . . fast.

                The good news is that getting this information from customers who have already bought from you is easy, and you can do it in less than a week. 

                I spell out the method, step by step, in the third chapter of my book. I even give you the open-ended questions you should ask during the interview to extract the right information. Questions worked out in thousands of customer interviews for hundreds of companies. 

                You only have to interview 5 to 7 people of a given type to get the data you need. No matter how busy you are, and how much you want to get moving with a campaign, nothing you do will guarantee your success the way this process will. 

                Plus, in any conversation about customers in any meeting going forward, you will be the Customer Mindset Expert, and those ridiculous conversations filled with assumptions and “you have to do it this way, because I think this way will work” directives will simply stop. 

                “Actually, I don’t think that way will work,” you’ll be able to say, confidently. “In my customer interviews, every single person said they preferred this method to that one.” 

                If you own the company, you can hire someone to make the calls for you, because people will be hesitant to convey any negative issues (or they will really water them down) so as not to hurt your feelings. Whoever makes the calls should be comfortable with this kind of work and at least somewhat knowledgeable about your industry. 

                AI is addictive because there are some things it does super well. Compiling and analyzing information is one of those things, so it’s tempting to use AI stalking to build your personas. 

                I’d hate to see you spend all your marketing money and resources on a campaign that misses the mark. Making this one simple change will ensure that you connect with customers . . . because you already have. 

                And they will sense it and appreciate it. We know, because this is what our agency does for our clients, and frankly, what I’ve done for clients for years. It works. 

                One last note. One of the most common pitches for using AI to build personas and automated campaigns is that you will be able to “personalize” your messages to a level not possible before. But if you don’t actually know the people you’re selling to—on a person-to-person level—your wonderfully orchestrated campaign will never reach its full potential. 

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