When clients ask us how many personas they should have, we typically tell them a handful — two to seven — is enough.
Not long ago, a client tried to identify its market segments and announced it would need 42 personas. After the uncovery process, we identified a need for 7 personas, not 42. The client was skeptical, believing we couldn’t address the needs of its entire customer base with only seven personas. We began creating scenarios for the personas, and the team realized one persona was so similar to another it wasn’t adding any value to the persuasion planning process. They suggested we remove that persona. We did, committing what we affectionately term “personacide.”
Uncovery can also introduce a persona that’s being ignored or overlooked by marketing or sales. Another client resisted using a persona we developed largely from a gap we identified researching its lost prospects. The team kept telling us, “This doesn’t seem like our customer.” We agreed, telling them they were failing to close this persona (or market opportunity) because its needs and motivations weren’t addressed by the current sales process. By creating new scenarios for this persona and staying aware of what it needed during sales calls, the client began to close more of these prospects types.