Adarsh Thampy's thought-provoking blog, linked to below, suggests that marketers should move away from traditional buyer personas, and instead focus on content persona, as a cheaper and more actionable alternative.
Having a content persona is about looking at the content that you are creating and observing the patterns: which type of content converts your audience?
Every marketer should have easily available data when it comes to content. I said should because I know a few top firms still don't even have (free!) Google analytics installed. This means that a content persona tactic is very achievable.
Should you throw away buyer personas? Definitely not, getting to know your prospects is still a must, but a content persona ensures that the information you collect for your personas is far more relevant and based on real behaviour.
I’ll let you in on a little secret. The buyer personas most consultants and agencies try to sell you is overrated. To build any meaningful buyer persona, you need to analyze your actual customer behavior. You then need to identify patterns from those massive data sets. Think of what Amazon does with all your purchase and browsing history. They tailor the website based on your behavior. Oh and have you seen their highly targeted emails? That’s the kind of persona building you ought to be doing. Let’s just admit it. Most of us cannot do personalized marketing like Amazon. It’s not practical with our limited budgets and available tool-sets. So what do we do instead? Have no clear personas or worse, use assumptions and light-research to build flawed buyer-personas.