Do You Have a Stale Persona?
Most B2B marketing organizations have, at one point in time, created buyer personas. These are developed through deep research, oftentimes by a 3rd party. Market-leading organizations actually extend these personas and buyer process maps to the sales force who use them as part of their complex selling motion.
But too frequently, that initial burst of energy around the research, design, and deployment of the personas is replaced, over time, with neglect. Buyers change. Products change. The marketplace changes. Competitors provide compelling alternatives/substitutes. All of these conspire to render yesterday’s persona documents less useful. Sometimes they become downright irrelevant.
So Sales leaders should ask themselves:
- Are my personas current?
- Are they impacting the sales process?
- Do they match current experience as reported by the reps?
- Do they help us create compelling messaging and content that uniquely attract our buyers?
If the answers are “no” to these questions, then you have a “stale persona” problem.
Updating Your Personas
Effective persona development allows you to leverage existing client and buyer personas as well as develop new leads. If you have not performed a persona restoration in the last year, get started. Use this tool to determine the goals and obstacles you may run into when evaluating your personas.
Failing to recognize the transformation within your industry and in the buyers will result in you being unable to reach them. Updating and developing your personas will allow you to reach your target audience more effectively.
Take these factors into consideration before you begin your refresh:
- Changes in Your Business Model – Think about the formative years of your company and how much it has changed since its’ maiden voyage. You should be able to adapt to not only your internal changes, like pricing structures or acquisitions but changes in the buyer behaviors as well.
- New Product Launches – There are a multitude of risks that come with a new product launch. Having a better understanding of whom you market to, why they need it, or how they purchase can aid in a successful launch.
- Entering New Markets – Now more than ever, companies are taking advantage of the global markets. With expansions into different corners of the world, your buyer personas should reflect that. Along with changes in geographic markets, you may have expanded your verticals as well. Personas in healthcare are inherently different from those in tech. Cater to the needs of the individual buyer in different circumstances. Market segmentation can inform this dimension.
Factors to Consider as You Upgrade Your Personas
Once you have considered all the ways in which not only the market or your company has changed, but buyers as well, it is time to begin revising your outdated personas. Here’s how:
- Inject New Buyer Research – Without the qualitative data to support how you develop personas, you risk executing on ill-prepared strategies targeted at the wrong buyers. Your personas can only be as valuable as the level of research you put into developing them.
- Leverage a 3rd Party to Get an Unfiltered View – In today’s world, buyers spend 70% of the buying process without aid from sales representatives. Your qualitative data is more imperative than ever to persona development. Without personal interactions, your research effort needs to be stronger to beat out their digital journey. Third party qualitative research is the best resource.
- Tell the Whole Story – The biggest mistake you can make when evaluating your persona guides is to present them as a job description. This portrayal does not show the entirety of who the persona is, what their goals are, their fears, or what trigger events they find themselves in.
- Connect Your Personas to Your Sales Strategy – Buyer Personas are designed to provide insight for customer, buyer, marketing, and sales strategy. They are often used for content marketing or lead generation but usually do not grace the table at a ExCom meetings. This can be a mistake. Personas should be a guiding tool when making strategic decisions that are linked to buyer behavior.
- Cover the Whole Buyer Journey All the Way Through Implementation – Every persona will have different needs and goals for their intended audiences. Design each one with the intent to influence from initial lead generation to mature adoption and usage.
By giving your current buyer personas a refresh, you can better define your strategies, develop informed lead nurturing programs, have a higher conversion ratio, and improve revenue performance. The rewards that come with new personas is beyond making the number. It can help you de-risk the number as well as provide a rallying cry for the Sales and Marketing leader to both stack hands on.
Download the Sample Buyer Persona Tool to start refreshing your buyer personas to keep up with the market demands.