While sales and marketing used to be like rivalrous siblings in most organizations, they’ve come a long way in recent years. This can be credited to a lot of things, but buyer persona development has certainly helped them unite around a common ideal customer (and, just as importantly, negative personas have helped them unite around non-ideal customers). Still, many teams have missed one very important piece of this process: regular updates. Here’s a bit more about how to give your negative personas in particular a refresh, so you can make sure you’re contributing to the marketing buyer journey and not driving low-quality leads (or getting on sales’ nerves).
Review the data.
Let’s say you own a nutrition consulting company. You created a negative persona a couple of years back, based on the information you had at the time which indicated men were less likely to thrive in your program. Since then, though, you’ve noticed your competition putting out ads targeting men. Are you missing a potentially lucrative client group?
This is where it’s helpful to look back at your sales and client lists. If 90% of your revenue has come from women, and the majority of those relationships have been positive, you’re probably in the right lane. But, if you’ve been losing female clients or seeing other indicators that men are interested in what you’re selling (e.g. men have been increasingly engaging with your social media accounts), it could be time for an update. Maybe you need to tweak your negative persona by changing his demographics, or perhaps it’s time to make him a regular persona and create a new negative persona altogether. The data will give you clues about what to do if you take the time to look.
Talk with sales.
This is one of the best pieces of advice because your salespeople are the ones interacting with prospects and customers on a daily basis. Ask them if they get very close to closing a deal with a particular persona, but it falls through most of the time. They may not have noticed the pattern or commonalities between these instances, but you can help identify them.
For instance, let’s say you have a company that trains fitness instructors. Your negative persona for the past few years has been young moms because you initially found that they were way too busy raising their children to pursue a new career. However, you sit down with sales and they reveal that being busy isn’t the issue. Any young moms they’ve spoken to are excited to get out of the house and make some money while their kids are young, but the cost of your training program scares them away.
Knowing this, you can change your negative persona to be young moms who make less than a certain amount of income per year. This way, you’ll be better equipped to reach other young moms who are able to afford your program – and may actually be eager to do so. The point is, sales has a lot of insights into who you should avoid marketing to. But you need to make it a point to chat with them regularly to find out how that changes over time.
Look at market research and trends.
Sometimes, the issue with your existing negative personas has nothing to do with you and your offerings, but everything to do with external changes. Maybe a new competitor has emerged with a product that simply fits your current personas better than yours does. You need to innovate so you don’t lose all your clients to this company, and you find a way to do that by changing what you sell to cater to your formerly negative persona.
Or, consider the events of the past year. The global pandemic was certainly unexpected and caused a lot of companies to consider new revenue streams and service offerings than ever before. Whether it’s advancing technology, changing customer expectations, competing products or something else, external ebbs and flows can require you to rethink your negative personas too.
The main point to take away from this is that your negative personas aren’t something you can just set and forget. In order for them to be effective at helping you avoid customers who aren’t the best for you (and will likely cost you money, time, and headaches), you must revisit them often. Here’s a deeper look into negative personas if you want to go more in-depth, written by our CEO. And, as always, contact us with any questions!