Like real humans, buyer personas are not stagnate. They adjust and change with current affairs, industry upsets and shifts in the economy. To ensure you're always speaking to your most ideal customer, it's important to update your personas yearly. While that doesn't always mean starting from scratch, it does include reviewing the frustrations, motivations and pressing issues of your most ideal customer.
of companies using personas improved their value proposition.
of companies that exceed lead generation and revenue goals have documented buyer personas.
If the phrase "buyer persona" is a trigger that induces frantic searching, it may time to get reacquainted with your personas. If you find the documents collecting dust in your bottom drawer, starting from scratch can help realign your ideal customer and your company goals. As your business has scaled, grown or shifted, your buyer persona may have as well.
BUYER PERSONA: Personas are semi-fictional characters that can be based on detailed research of your most ideal customers. They are created to represent a buyer/user group (or aspirationally) to uncover motivations for engagement and most effective ways to identify and connect with your most ideal customer. The goal being to ultimately nurture them through the buying process.
Updated buyer personas = content that lands with ideal prospects. The leading reason why customers have limited engagement with B2B companies is because marketers are sending them too much irrelevant content (KoMarketing). Before you publish another blog or send another email, consider: Would this be helpful to my most ideal customer?
Keeping your buyer personas fresh and on-hand ensures that your annual marketing plan is strategically driven. Need clarity on whether you need to REFRESH or REDO your personas? This should help:
Key indicators that it's time for a REFRESH:
Key indicators that it's time for a REDO:
If you identified with either list in the above columns, read on for insight on honing your buyer persona for effective lead generation.
5 Steps to Refreshing or Redoing Buyer Personas
1. Interview Current Clients
In order to really know your ideal buyer, you have to talk to your ideal buyer.
You’ll probably have a good idea of who your buyer persona is by this point, but you need to test your ideas against your actual customers. It’s important to have diversity in the people you are choosing to interview. Having too many coming from the same background doesn’t allow for you to have a very wide understanding of your personas.
Try to find people that have recently made a buying decision, so the experience will be easily remembered. If you don’t, you’ll run the risk of getting biased and inaccurate information.
There are many things to consider when conducting interviews with past or present customers. The most important of these, perhaps, is transparency. Let your interviewee know exactly what your goals for the interview are. This will help to avoid confusion and help limit the number of biased answers you’ll receive.
2. Ask the Right Questions
So, what questions should you ask?
Truthfully, you need a mix of both general and open-ended questions. The general questions get you basic information that is fundamental to understanding your customers, but the open-ended questions will offer you the information you need to understand and create a story for your buyer personas.
Demographic information is a good start. It will give you insight into what the person looks like – an important first step before understanding how they think. However, you need to ask more pointed questions to uncover habits and motivators.
Here are a few of our favorite questions to help you go deeper:
- Who do they answer to at work?
- Who are they trying to impress?
- What does a day in their life look like?
- How do they source their news?
- What keeps them up on Sunday night?
- What gets them up on Monday morning?
- How do they measure success?
- Where are their eyeballs most of the day?
- Who are they most likely to ask for help from?
- What are they afraid to admit?
3. Put It Into Perspective
The more you consider qualitative realties of your target audience, the more you understand life from their vantage point. This empathic knowledge should directly inform all marketing efforts from web copy to blog titles, presentation themes to social media posts.
Lead generating content starts with strategic implementation of your persona. After your interview, it's important to go a step further, creating an actual document to house your information. Include the basics, but be sure to develop the story further.
Meet our friend, Busy Benjamin.
EXPERT TIP: Build an actual profile of the persona - including an image. Print them out and send them to the company. Everyone should have this on hand.
Notice that this snapshot of Benjamin includes some basic information, but his "narrative" expands on his story. This document is something that employees should be able to easily access. The use of the persona extends beyond the marketing team. Detailed information on your business's ideal client can serve everyone from your sales team to customer service.
4. Understand the Buyer's Journey
The buyer's journey is a series of choices consumers make while researching a purchase decision. Once you have your persona built, walk them through the 3 stages of their path to purchase journey:
AWARENESS: The buyer realizes they have a problem, but the problem doesn’t have a name yet.
As an industry veteran, Ben knows marketing fundamentals like the back of his hand. Recently, however, he has noticed his marketing campaigns have been less efficient in producing sales and overall, his audience data is shrinking. He fears his company is missing out on further opportunities. Ben searches online for articles and case studies that produced data similar to his. From his research Ben decides his marketing strategy is too unorganized, and he needs to establish a marketing plan.
CONSIDERATION: The buyer defines their problem and researches options to solve it.
Ben begins by researching “best practices for marketing plans.” Numerous results come back for the newest social media trends and top rising marketing technologies. Ben realizes that adapting to the evolving industry is important, but he doesn’t have time to take care of it all himself. Ben makes the decision to entrust implementing these changes to a marketing team.
DECISION: The buyer chooses a solution.
Ben knows he needs a marketing team to create his plan, but should he develop the plan in-house or seek an outside marketing company? He consults with a few of his most trusted colleagues for advice. Based on their experiences, Ben believes his current staff may be too inexperienced to develop the detailed marketing plan he needs.
Ben and his team decide on hiring an outside marketing company. He researches the highest reviewed marketing companies online and reaches out to his colleagues for recommendations. Using the information he’s gathered, he calls the best company and schedules a meeting to discuss his needs.
It's important to take this a step further - actually write questions or statements that would fall out of your persona’s mouth at each these stages. Why? By looking at what your persona is asking or thinking at each different stage, you can more easily put yourself in their shoes and ultimately deliver relevant content to help them progress through their journey.
Now that you know what's on your ideal client’s mind at the different stages the buyer’s journey, you need to diversify your content accordingly. This means that all of your content - from blogs to social posts - should be linked to a persona and a buyer's journey stage.
By strategically spreading your opinion expertise and insight like little crumbs all down the path to purchase, your content builds rapport while guiding them toward decision. Using the statements or questions from each unique stage, creates better marketing.
Save It or Send It: The Ideal Client Persona Template
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