Keeping marketing personas inclusive and up to date
A marketing persona is an idealised character, representative of a segment of your target audience. Personas help you to better understand your customers and establish how you can meet their needs and solve their problems.
However, each persona needs updating as business models, supply chains and industry expectations evolve. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced a change in how B2B audiences engage with businesses, removing the possibility of face to face meetings, instead seeing a huge increase in ecommerce.
The power of personas
Even in the world of B2B marketing, the focus of your activities is not the entire organisation, but its key decision makers. By understanding their goals and motivations, you can target them more specifically and successfully.
Depending on the product or service you offer, you will have different people to target with your activities. For example, a laboratory safety equipment producer knows that staff within laboratories will be the ones using their equipment, but the decision of which equipment to purchase will be made by a different stakeholder, such as a lab director or head of purchasing. The personas you target will vary depending on the industry, type of company you are targeting, the size of their operation and the different uses for your offering.
Personalised marketing is all-important, which makes understanding your personas and their needs essential. To compete, marketers need to use personas to demonstrate to these decision makers that their specific challenges or problems can be met or solved.
Why updating personas is important
The global pandemic has been a huge factor in recent changes to the behaviours and priorities of your B2B business customer base, but this will change for many reasons, including changes in supply chains, updates of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) expectations, technological advances or any number of other possibilities, your B2B business customer base is always changing.
Such changes may impact every part of the supply chain and every aspect of an organisation’s operational policy. This will prompt a change in the needs and priorities of businesses and decision makers. For example, B2B buyers used to be almost exclusively male. Now, women hold almost one-third of B2B sales positions. Using outdated personas could mean alienating entire groups of key buyers and decision makers, costing your company leads and, subsequently, sales.
Tailoring content to your target audience lets them know that you understand them and can help them achieve their specific goals.
How to keep marketing personas up to date
Updating your marketing personas doesn’t need to be an arduous or difficult process. Depending on the fluidity of your industry, schedule in a review of personas at least once a year – or when events of significant impact occur. Keep in mind any changes in customer demographics and developments in your market, such as a new cohort of users, and involve your sales team, customer-facing support staff, marketers and CSR lead in the process of updating your personas.
By doing this, your marketing personas should be more reflective of the various groups that make up your target audience. But how do you know what needs updating?
• Technological upgrades have always had an impact on business strategy and can impact your audience’s expectation of product function, method of communication and speed of communication/delivery. 2020 was a perfect example of this as pandemic restrictions meant businesses required immediate upgrades to allow them to function almost entirely online. This meant a huge uptake of ecommerce systems and work management software.
• Segments of your larger customer group may have been added or left since your last review. This may be because of a change internally or externally, for example, you may have adjusted your offering to meet slightly different needs as a response to the competitive landscape adjusting, or you may need to target a new buyer altogether.
• Customer behaviours should be one of your key indicators of persona change, a shift in engagement patterns is likely to indicate a shift in their priorities and therefore how you should be marketing to them.
• Monitoring feedback directly from customers may seem like an obvious way to check how their needs are changing but is often forgotten. Speak to your sales team and customer support staff to gain insight into any trends in customer questions or enquiries.
• As your business develops, your customer base will inevitably do the same. This applies to your own internal alterations, as well as external changes, for example, a new legal requirement may mean your services are now in demand from new markets.
• Even though you are marketing B2B, you still need to consider the end user and their changing needs. If marketing to a B2C company, user expectations will determine what they require. For example, the increase in consumer purchases being driven by social, economic and environmental concerns may mean company decision makers want to know about the transparency of your supply chains or the origins of product ingredients.
• The importance of diversity and inclusion at work extends to your customer base. Ensure your personas reflect the diverse make-up of your audience, including their behaviours, perspectives and how they prefer to engage.
Updating your personas avoids wasting time on uninterested segments or missing out on new leads while ensuring marketing is as targeted as possible on the correct channels and using the most effective methods. Once a system is in place to ensure that personas are regularly reviewed and updated, the next challenge is updating marketing practice to incorporate changes and ensure these personas are used effectively.
Managing persona updates
Do you need help with persona research or creating a fully developed marketing persona?
We can support your marketing team to review and update your personas, consolidating your company’s research or performing our own. We can also help you use these personas to generate marketing content that supports lead generation.