If you’ve spent any time working in B2B marketing, chances are you’re familiar with buyer personas. They’re an old tool, but just because they’ve been around for a while doesn’t mean they’re out of date. In fact, buyer personas today are more relevant and powerful than ever, because increased access to customer data allows us to develop ever clearer images of our customers’ wants and needs.
While many companies include buyer personas in their initial strategy development, not many “put the person back in the persona” and factor their personas into their everyday decision-making. This is a substantial oversight. As Ardath Albee points out, buyer personas are only useful if they’re full of powerful data. Keeping your buyer personas fresh with the data you glean from your day-to-day activities will help you be keenly aware of your customers’ needs, and ensure your marketing is precisely targeted.
When you first put together your buyer personas, you probably spent time talking to customers to determine their needs. Do it again! Schedule periodic interviews with your clients to check in on their needs, whether every three, six or 12 months. These don’t need to be exhaustive interviews, but rather surveys that give you enough to determine how their needs are evolving. This will ensure you’re not making inaccurate assumptions about your customers’ needs.
Your customer service team undoubtedly has a well-developed sense of your customers’ needs, pain points and expectations. Keep an open dialogue going with them, as they can be your listening post. They’re likely to be the first to know when something substantial changes with your customers, and will be able to clue you in to new opportunities.
A big part of the reason we’ve made data an essential component of our work here at Movéo is that it affords numerous ways to gain insight into our customers. We parse our data to determine where we’re getting the most engagement, which in part means seeing what pieces of our content are getting viewed and shared. What your customers are clicking on is almost certainly what they need to know more about, serving as a good indicator of where your efforts should be focused.
Wherever possible, look to see what you can glean from your competitors, directly or indirectly. You can try to survey their customers, similarly to how you’ve done with your own customers, and you can look at what your competitor is offering. Assume that, like you, they are looking at their data and bulking up their content offering in response to their customers’ needs. That’s can be a signal to your company of a latent need.
The most important thing is to begin looking at your buyer personas as living, breathing documents. The trove of data you can gain from surveys and analytics will keep your efforts up to date, relevant and on target, and ensure you’re putting your resources where they will generate results.
Photo credit: 10ch via Flickr Creative Commons