Buyer (or marketing or customer) personas are fictional representations of your company’s ideal customers. They are based on actual data and market research detailing customer demographics and online behavior, along with measured conjecture regarding their personal histories, motivations, and concerns.
Buyer personas ultimately help you understand current and prospective customers better. Doing this can help you improve everything from your content creation to your sales strategy, while allowing you to target and personalize your efforts to various audience segments.
When gathering information for buyer personas:
- Review your contacts to identify customer trends (i.e. how they find and/or consume your content).
- Use form fields on your website to capture integral persona intel, such as company size.
- Consult your sales team regarding their most frequent leads and any overall generalizations that might be derived from this information.
- Interview customers and prospective customers to determine why your company or service appeals to them.
The Interview Process
Interviewing various sources to zero in on specific buyer personas is perhaps the most critical step in the process. It might feel unnatural at first, particularly if you’ve never interacted with someone that way. Don’t sweat it. You don’t need to be an investigative journalist to create a winning buyer persona.
When interviewing, keep the following steps in mind:
- Tap into your existing customer base (both good and bad). They have an established history with your brand, and there’s a good chance many will epitomize your ideal personas.
- Survey current prospects and leads to balance things out. You already have their contact info – but they don’t know a great deal about your company.
- Reach out to coworkers and existing customers for referrals. This can result in some high-quality interviews.
- Third parties, such as Craigslist and UserTesting.com provide a solid source for interviewees who have no association with your company, whatsoever.
- Be prepared to offer incentives to those interviewees who are not already associated with your company – gift cards work great.
- Reassure potential interviews that you are conducting research and are not trying to sell anyone anything.
- Be flexible. Suggest alternate interview times. Send calendar invitations. Handle all of the details.
- Interview until you can start to predict responses. This typically indicates that you’ve asked enough questions to start parsing out patterns.
Keep in mind that 3-5 interviews in each category of persona (customers, prospects, third-party, etc.) may be necessary to efficiently assemble an adequate roster of buyer personas for your company.
When interviewing, be sure to ask questions regarding your interviewees’ job roles; their company size and industry; the inherent challenges they face; what social media platforms they frequent; and their personal demographics (education, marital status, shopping preferences, and more).
Most importantly, ask “why.” Determining why someone believes the way they do covers far more ground than other superficial queries. See how much backstory you can generate with something as basic as: “What is your biggest challenge? And why?”
Share your results with your sales team – what your personas are concerned about, what their needs are, and how specifically your company can help them.
Make Buyer Personas Real for Your Team
Now you’re ready to have some fun!
- Give each persona a clever, informational name (CMO Cindy or Sales Rep Ryan).
- Download a royalty-free photo to represent your persona (Pixabay.com offers free stock photos with no sign-in required).
- Include actual quotes from throughout the interview process detailing your personas’ concerns and desires.
- Devise a list of objections your personas could potentially express. This helps prep your sales team for all contingencies.
- Shout “It’s alive! IT’S ALIVE!!!” when you introduce each new persona to a crowded conference room. (OK, this part isn’t mandatory… But it is electrifying.)
Visitors to your website want to know “what’s in it for me?” Speak to them in their language by building content around a clearly defined target audience.
Need help? IMPACT Marketing & PR can help you craft winning buyer personas and put them to work for your company.