4 Questions for Interim adjustments to your persona playbook

As we shared in our post on Marketing Adjustments for Turbulent Times, the buyer personas that B2B marketers use to guide their efforts were not developed in the context of a pandemic disruption. It is highly likely that the needs and pain points that populated these buyer personas two months ago look and feel quite different in the filter of current events.

Like coaches in sports drawing up new plays when conditions change on the field, leaders and marketers will need to adjust their persona playbooks. Below, we examine four questions that organizations should be asking and answering to demonstrate empathy, understanding, and make the right marketing moves for the audiences they serve.

1. What persona needs, wants, and pain points are new, which remain the same, and which have shifted in priority?

Persona needs and wants undergo shifts over time even during normal business operations, but now they’ve quite possibly been turned on end. For example, let’s saw a secondary or tertiary benefit of your solutions is enabling automation of manual tasks. While it may not have been a strong point of emphasis to personas before, it now could be a critically important message as organizations look to maintain effective operations. Takeaway: Review and reorder (if needed) your personas priorities.

2. What offers and terms should be introduced, emphasized, or extended to make it easier for audiences to do business with you now?

As audiences have to now be more careful before pulling the trigger on new spending, look for ways you may be able to set them more at ease. This could come in the form of offers such as “first 60 days free” or reminders that they can cancel a service at any time if their situation calls for it. For example, many carmakers are offering payment relief to help support the purchase of a vehicle for those who need them now. Takeaway: Marketers should work with finance and other stakeholder groups to determine how they can remove or lower barriers to buying.

3. What do your personas need to know about the state of your business operations?

It’s important for businesses to remind their personas that they are still here to serve them, even in such a difficult time. This could be as simple as sharing current business hours, means of contact, and any changes that COVID-19 is compelling. These communications are also opportunities for companies to share what they are doing for their employees and how they’re helping in the community. Takeaway: Show unity with your audiences and let them know you are there whenever they need you.

4. What has changed in terms of how personas are now getting information on solutions like yours?

B2B buyers that have become accustomed to getting information via conferences and in-person exchanges are having to turn to new sources and mediums. B2B marketers will need to shift spending, energy, and emphasis to digital channels that are now getting more of their audience’s focus. At the same time, double down on measuring your marketing performance for continual optimization. Takeaway: Have your messages meet audiences where they are, which may be in new places than before.

Alignment and Action

Although leaders and marketers want to act as quickly as possible, it is important for them to “look before leaping,” to act deliberately but take the time needed to truly understand what their different audiences are facing and what that implies for their messaging, marketing, and business as a whole. Once a confident assessment of those points is reached, it is critical to document that information and distribute it to the appropriate stakeholders to ensure all are aligned on what will guide their actions in the days and weeks ahead.

Leaders and marketers can also learn a lot from how other brands and businesses are adjusting their efforts during the global pandemic. Ad Age has published a marketer’s response to coronavirus tracker that they have been updating throughout the crisis. One example of thoughtful adjustment to changing audience needs includes that of QuickBooks, who stopped their planned and already-underway campaign featuring 80s-era stars to instead allocate those expenditures to a campaign aimed at small business and community support efforts. Like all of us, buyer audiences are navigating an anxiety-filled new normal. Just as smart businesses and marketers always have, take the time needed to understand what audiences are experiencing and alleviate those anxieties as best you can in your marketing and messaging.