As a marketer, you determined your target audience when you created your marketing strategy and created buyer personas (also called marketing personas) that reflect their priorities and pain points. Then you crafted content and marketing messages that will resonate with their professional and/or personal needs. But as it goes, nothing can stay the same: business models change, companies merge or shift direction, and even your audience can evolve. The personas that were once your marketing strategy’s main focus are now outdated.
Buyer personas are only effective if they are accurate. Updating them should be a routine part of your marketing strategy to ensure your content is effectively reaching those who need it most. If you can consistently help your potential customers evaluate your product or service on their terms, you’ll win them over every time.
It’s a good idea to revisit your personas regularly (at least yearly) and after big changes to make sure they still match your target customers. Here are a few examples.
First and foremost, it’s important to think about your product or service from your customer’s standpoint and how they interact with it on their buyer’s journey. Are you still serving the right people?
As technology continues to rapidly evolve, think about the different ways your audience is consuming content. Do they prefer more interactive content like games or quizzes? Do they prefer to use voice search? Would they rather an immersive content experience? Consider the way your target audience prefers to consume your content to make sure you’re delivering it in the right way.
When companies merge, they likely bring together two different sets of strategies and ideas for implementing similar plans. Expanding business services will open the doors to buyers who may not have been relevant to one company or the other.
For a successful merger to happen, it’s smart to revisit the type of consumer each company originally targeted and determine the still-relevant traits and personas that no longer work with the merger. Such a drastic shift in business will impact where the newly blended company focuses its future efforts.
In this case, it may help for representatives from both companies to work through this together. A discussion about why each persona is important can help determine whether it will continue to be relevant to future marketing campaigns.
Perhaps your company is changing its direction or rebranding. Similar to companies merging, it’s important to re-evaluate whether the current personas are still relevant to the future path your company will take.
Start by discussing with those directly involved in defining your company’s new direction. Learn more about which audience will be affected and who the company hopes to target with the new strategy. Compare this against your current personas and determine whether this is in alignment. If not, it’s time to update.
It’s common for business strategies to change. Because of the nature of change in the business world, consider whether the shift is so extreme that you need to create new personas from scratch or rework the current persona information.
If your company is introducing a new product line, you need to make sure you’re targeting the right audience. Expanding your offerings increases the number of buyers to target. For example, perhaps your products previously only targeted women and you’re adding offerings for men.
This is a clear prompt to create a new persona (or more than one, depending on the product). You will need to conduct buyer research, which usually has the biggest impact on marketing and sales. Your new audience has different needs, goals and pain points from your original audience. Once you’ve developed your new buyer personas, compare them against those already in place. Noting these differences when creating content will help you connect with your new audience. In the above example, men and women make very different purchasing decisions, which means it’s important to incorporate those factors into your personas for future content.
Or perhaps your company once offered many product lines but has decided to focus on fewer products. Revisit your original personas and consider narrowing down, combining or eliminating some of them to align with your new strategy.
As mentioned earlier, it’s important to revisit your personas at least yearly to keep up with the latest trends that affect them and incorporate new information you learned while shaping your marketing strategy throughout the year. You could uncover new research about your personas or unearth information that makes a once-relevant persona obsolete.
This may also happen when attending a trade show, conference or other industry events with thought leaders sharing their ideas. Keep this in the back of your mind when listening to others speak about your industry and think about how they tie back to your personas. Is there a big change coming? Could it wipe out or add a persona?
Do you send out an annual survey? That collection of data could also reveal information that contradicts what you previously thought of those buyers. If you don’t attend trade shows or conferences, this could be a great way to keep a pulse on your buyers and shape your personas.
Remember that personas should evolve with your business and the direction it’s going. Reviewing them regularly will help you create content that is more likely to generate qualified leads and make readers feel you understand their needs.