What is negative branding

Persona Marketing: Why Negative Personas Make Customer Acquisition Easier

While persona marketing has long been established, the influence of negative personas has not yet been exhausted. Because with this reverse strategy you can not only specify your marketing, but also make it more efficient. This is how you get the customers who really matter to you.

Negative Personas - Marketing ex negativo

Many tips, opinions and instructions are circulating about the development of personas for online shops, etc. These personas essentially reflect user models that include the attitudes of a specific target group - also in a social context. In this way (fictitious) optimal customer profiles can be created. For customers who generate a lot of income with little effort; and that permanently.

But if this model works, what about negative personas? The exact opposite of the optimal buyer persona can help you too. Because the elaboration of this supports you and your team in preventing time-consuming and cost-intensive attempts to win customers, which may in the long term lead to nothing. The negative persona is the model of a user who complains, knows no compromises, does not seem to believe in your product anyway and is already looking elsewhere. To put it simply: the time and money invested in its acquisition could be more profitable by concentrating on the positive sample customers. And a negative persona is valuable for this realization.

Nevertheless, marketers cite two understandable reasons against negative personas. On the one hand, you don't want to completely detach yourself from any potential customer (and thus profit). On the other hand, creating the negative personas seems to many to be more of an entertaining experiment than an actually optimizing factor.

Negative personas - the productive "bad" customer

Although the objections to the negative personas are understandable, there are good reasons to disregard them. Jay Feitlingermentions three steps for the productive installation of such models in the Kissmetrics blog.

  • creating positive buyer personas
  • the extensive analysis of customer data
  • constructing the negative personas

While step one is a logical one to first narrow down the audience you want to focus on in the long term, step two means preparing to work out really productive negative personas. To this end, Feitlinger suggests a number of introductory steps.

In order to create a negative persona that can make your customer acquisition more efficient, you need to identify their most negative aspects in relation to your online shop or your product. A very good way to find out is through the interview. For example, with people who have bought from you once and never again, who were dissatisfied with your service or who never buy from you despite social media followers.

You can also analyze your sales and identify any sticking points in the customer journey. You can move structurally from more general problems to concrete ones. For example, ask yourself:

  • Which customers clearly showed their dissatisfaction?
  • Were there any direct conflicts with them?
  • Was more time and money spent on conquering than usual?

If the latter is the case, this is a clear indication of a persona that you can identify as a negative model. There are “irreconcilable differences” with certain groups. For example those who:

  • are not in the immediate geographic area of ​​your service or product (less often in online shops)
  • Promise less income than it costs you to acquire as a customer
  • Expecting concessions from you that you cannot and will not give
  • Per se are not willing to pay your prices (and may not be able to pay either)
  • use and prefer a competing product

Narrow down the most unsuitable customer group

While these points are only rudiments, you and your team can still specify the persona in question. To do this, you clarify various questions about data and experiences in agreement with those who will later also benefit from this elaboration.

It would then be possible to precisely determine what a fictitious negative persona would look like as a projection of a real customer. So where does this persona work, what is their job title? As a result, how is your income to be assessed and what are your interests and goals? How much do they identify with brands, are they loyal customers, etc.

Psychographic and demographic aspects should be included in order to limit the negative customer model. Buyerperona.com also exemplifies the barriers for buyer personas.

Conversely, negative personas can therefore be based on these problems.

An example of the online high-end clothing distributor could be a person who is young and student and therefore has a low income. It is possible that their interests are in an area that is in no way related to fashion. This could lead to the conclusion that the available money will be spent elsewhere. However, this person may also be thrifty and express themselves negatively in reviews about high prices, especially when it comes to clothing. Perhaps the person has the background that they only needed expensive branded clothing for a specific occasion, so they do not constitute a long-term ideal customer for the distributor.

How the negative persona moves you forward in marketing

On the one hand, the negative examples of the Pesonas - at best, create more than one or two - will help you figure out where you can cut back on your marketing budget. It is more worthwhile to address the buyer personas, i.e. customer groups with positive connotations, more actively than to waste a lot of time and money on attracting "difficult" customer groups. On the other hand, the whole team can use it as a basis to refine and, if necessary, optimize the customer approach. Because even if the negative personas are designed to exclude certain fictitious customer groups, they can serve as a basis for broader customer acquisition in the long term.

Anyone who has specifically identified the customer problems can sometimes also adjust their focus. So here is also a point of contact for the skeptics who do not want to lose any income. Also advises Harrie TruscottAt You & Co, the brand advocates in social media, who nevertheless never buy, are valued as guarantors of awareness. Perhaps, in the course of the development of negative personas, fewer means of active customer acquisition have to be used on them; but marketing is and will remain very complex. Therefore, negatives and buyer personas as models are only aids that should be based on quantitative and qualitative analysis. Although they can increase the efficiency of customer acquisition, their use must be considered depending on the marketing strategy. By focusing on the optimal customer, you can achieve conversions more easily. And as with photos, you can ultimately develop something out of the negatives; in this case something very productive.