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As a marketer, you determined your company’s buyers when you created your marketing strategy—you researched their priorities and pain points and crafted content that will resonate with their professional needs. But nothing stays the same; business models change, companies merge and search for a new direction. And the personas that once were your marketing strategy’s main focus are now outdated.

Buyer personas are only effective if they are accurate. Updating them should be a routine part of your marketing strategy, to ensure your content is effectively reaching those who need it most. Let’s look at key indicators that you should revisit your personas to determine whether they are still the right fit or if you need to create new personas.

Buyout or Merger

When companies combine, it’s likely they are bringing together two different sets of strategies and even different ideas for implementing similar strategies. Expanding business services will open the doors to buyers who may not have been relevant to one company or the other.

For a successful merger to happen, it’s smart to revisit who each company originally targeted and determine the still-relevant personas and the personas that no longer work with the merger. Such a drastic shift in business will impact where the newly blended company focuses future efforts.

In this case, it may help for representatives from both companies to work through this together. A discussion about why each persona is important can help determine whether it will continue to be relevant to future marketing campaigns.

Shift in Business Strategy

Perhaps your company is changing its direction. Similar to companies merging, it’s important to re-evaluate whether the current personas are still relevant to the future path your company will take.

Start by discussing with those directly involved about defining your company’s new direction. Learn more about which audience will be affected and who the company hopes to target with the new strategy. Compare this against your current personas, and determine whether this is in alignment. If not, you will need to update your personas.

Keep in mind it is common for business strategies to change, and change often. Because of the nature of change in the business world, consider whether the change is so extreme that you need to create new personas from scratch or can rework the current personas.

Products or Services Change

If your company is introducing a new product line, you need to make sure you’re targeting the right personas. Expanding your offerings increases the number of buyers to target. For example, perhaps your products previously only targeted women and you’re adding offerings for men.

This is a clear prompt to create a new persona (or more than one, depending on the product). You will need to conduct buyer research on your new audience, which has different needs, goals and pain points from your original audience. Once you’ve developed your new buyer personas, compare them against those already in place. Noting these differences when creating content will help you connect with your new audience. In the above example, men and women make very different purchasing decisions, which means it’s important to incorporate those factors into your personas for future content.

Or perhaps your company once offered many product lines but has decided to focus on fewer products. You will need to revisit your original personas and consider narrowing down, combining or eliminating some of them to align with the fewer products.

Other Triggers

If there are no major events in your company’s immediate future, it’s important to revisit your original personas at least yearly so you can keep up on the latest trends that affect them, and incorporate new information you learned while shaping your marketing strategy for them throughout the year. You could uncover new research about your personas or unearth information that makes a once-relevant persona obsolete.

This may also happen when attending a trade show, conference or other industry event with thought leaders sharing their ideas that could shape the future of your personas. Keep this in the back of your mind when listening to others speak about your industry and think about how they tie back to your personas. Is there a big change coming? Could it wipe out or add a persona?

A good time to do this is at the end of the fiscal year when you’re wrapping up the current year and looking at the year ahead in many other areas of the business. When developing your goals for the upcoming year, review your personas to establish whether these goals will help meet the needs of your prospective buyers as represented by your personas.

Remember that personas should evolve with your business and the direction it’s going. Reviewing them regularly will help you create content that is more likely to generate qualified leads and make readers feel you understand their needs.