We talked recently about why you need to use buyer personas in marketing. Today we’re going to walk through how to do it. In order to create a persona, you’re going to need some data. This information does not come from your imagination or who you think your best customers are. It comes from interviewing real live people and finding out what makes them tick. It can be existing customers, prospects, lookalikes on Facebook, even past customers who terminated their business with you can be an extremely valuable resource. In fact, it’s important to hear from both happy and unhappy customers throughout this process.
Before you get started, you may already have an idea of who your personas will be, and you should have a minimum of three to five people who fit into each of those categories. If you’re not sure where to start, talk to your sales team about what kind of leads they encounter the most, and what opinions they can form from those experiences.
What Questions Should You Ask?
Once you know to whom you’re going to talk, the next step is what you’re going to say. You’ll need to prepare a list of questions that delve deep into your customers’ daily lives. There are five general categories you’ll want to cover in the interview: Job/Daily Life, Goals & Challenges, Information Sources, Personal Background, and Shopping Habits.
A person’s job role will be much more important for a B2B company over B2C, but it can still make a difference no matter what your business. Maybe Dave spends all day at work online and likes to unplug when he gets home. Judy is a freelancer who is always checking emails. Dave heads to Quora or Reddit when he has a question about something, while Judy gets most of her information from email lists she subscribes to.
Asking the right questions is the most important consideration to take during these interviews and no interview is complete without this one:
“What’s your biggest challenge?”
Whether it’s the challenge of organizing a remote team across five time zones, or the challenge of redesigning your living room on a budget, every potential customer has a problem they need solved. Not only can answering this question help you to properly target your existing products, it can often lead to new product development as vacuums in the market can be identified.
Overall, the specific questions you can ask may vary, but don’t go in with just a set list and stick to it. Follow up answers by asking, “Why?” Allow them to elaborate. Oftentimes people can stumble upon insights when they’re encouraged to speak freely. Once you start predicting what your next interviewee is going to say, you probably have enough information to fully flesh out your persona.
What Should a Buyer Persona Include?
In order to create a valuable persona, you’ll need to analyze all the raw data you have collected and identify patterns in the responses. What are the common threads that tie these interviewees together? Three small business owners you interviewed all found they spent too much time working in the business when they wanted to be working on it. This becomes a part of your persona: “John, the small business owner.”
Understanding this challenge can help you to offer a solution that will help John delegate more of his daily work and refocus his schedule. Beyond just challenges and solutions, every persona should also include demographics such as age and income level, as well as purchasing habits and even common objections to pitches.
Don’t forget to put a name and a face on each of your personas to allow your team to visualize these archetypes. You should put all of this information in a format that your sales team can easily digest and include real quotes from your interviews to help your team connect with future leads.
Ultimately, creating buyer personas for your business means understanding what makes your customers tick. Digging into the “why” behind their actions allows you to deliver better, more effective, highly targeted content to the right customer at the right time.
So Now What?
Once you have created your personas, it’s time to put them into action. In addition to knowing which persona your lead falls into, you should also be aware of how far through the purchase journey they have come. Your sales analytics should closely track the individual performance of each persona to help identify missed opportunities and assign unique ROIs.
Connecting with the needs of your customers is the crux of persona development, and of marketing as a whole. Following these steps means making your budget work smarter as you nurture the right leads in the right way going forward. If your buyer personas are a success you should soon have the information you need to refocus your marketing spend on your best and most valuable customers and stop wasting money where it’s less likely to convert.