Now that you’ve created your buyer personas (congratulations, by the way!), one of the most important things you can do is to make sure they stay relevant and up to date. After all, even the best insights are rendered useless if they’re outdated or incorrect.
Consider this. Has your job title changed in the last year? Or has your company launched a new product or service? Have you been impacted by a new law or regulation in your industry? Maybe you’ve started reading a new industry blog for news and ideas? I’m willing to bet you nodded yes to at least one of these, and the same is true of your potential buyers. Staying up to date on what’s new or different in their world will be what keeps your marketing decisions relevant, and sets you apart from your competition.
Unfortunately, the team at Cintell has found that personas are only typically updated when there is a marketing regime change. With the average tenure of a marketing leader 61 months today (it was 45 months in 2013), that’s a long time for customer insights to go unchecked and become stale.
Here’s our best advice for keeping your personas up-to-date.
- Validate with Primary Research
If you conducted customer interviews when you created your personas, checking in and validating your data over time can be very beneficial (think periodic surveys, interviews, focus groups, etc.). We recommend conducting outreach once a month if you can manage the insights, and conducting surveys at least once a quarter. We’ve shared our tips for conducting customer interviews in this article, or go right to the source and download our Ultimate Guide to Persona Interviews.
- When in doubt, talk it out.
Keep an open flow of communication internally, especially with folks on the front lines like your Sales and Client Services teams. These people interact with customers and potential buyers daily and would be quick to tell you about the trends and obstacles impacting your target audience right now. Gathering feedback and regularly providing updates to your personas will show the rest of the organization that customer insights are an ongoing, collaborative process. (Folks are also more likely to use your personas if they feel like they’re part of the creation and maintenance process!) If sales isn’t allowing you near “their” customers, read our tips for overcoming that obstacle.
- Find out what’s important to personas like yours
Imagine if you could learn even more about your potential buyers at any given moment in time. For example, what type of content are personas like yours reading? Or who are the social influencers in their world? There are a number of secondary data sources that can help to reveal key trends related to a market segment such as key skills and responsibilities, personality insights, industry trends, social insights, reading habits, sources of influence, etc. Attend one of our weekly education sessions to learn how we’re pulling these insights directly into Cintell to keep your personas relevant and current.
- Connect the dots with your marketing database
There is a goldmine of information living in your marketing automation and CRM databases. If you are able to connect the dots between your persona definitions and the contacts in these systems, you have an opportunity to execute persona-based sales and marketing, and understand the coverage of personas in your database. Leverage the insights from your personas to better understand your marketing funnel or prospect database. (Hint! Once you have identified and published your SmartPersonasTM, use Cintell to match these to the contact records in your existing business systems. Cintell will generate a report providing insight into the prevalence of these SmartPersonasTM in your designated list, and tag each contact with its related persona, based on the strength of the match.)
- Create your persona “Dream Team”
Across the board, the most successful companies we work with have all made company-wide commitments to put their customers first. When personas are created in a vacuum and not easily shared, they quickly become outdated and forgotten. We recommend forming a “Customer Intelligence Dream Team” (your very own “Cintelligence Team!”) with members representing the core departments across your business who meet regularly to review, edit and maintain buyer personas. (Standby, our next post will be ALL about this!)
By creating and publishing buyers personas in Cintell’s easy-to-use, free online tool, you’re making it easier for the entire company to access the insights and make better, more customer-centric decisions. Start creating your personas today!
Buyer personas not getting much love outside of your department? We know it can be an uphill battle. Our next article will focus on getting buy-in from the rest of the business so everyone is regularly accessing, updating and USING buyer personas.