20 questions to help create brilliant audience and buyer personas
Before you start thinking about content marketing, it is critical to know who you want to reach, and what they care about. Developing buyer personas will help you focus your efforts.
A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer, based on market research and real data about your existing customers. Developing Buyer Personas will help you:
- Determine where to focus your time
- Guide product development
- Help you generate content ideas
- Help you determine what social media channels to focus on
- Give you insights about buyer behaviours
The more detailed you can get when creating your buyer personas, the better. You may have several types of buyer personas, for each of your market segments, each with their own unique characteristics, with a variety of problems they need to solve.
In order to capture specific information about your ideal customer, you’ll need to do research. Make a plan for how to get to know your model customers and develop personas.
We suggest sketching out an overview then supplementing that with insights drawn from conversations, surveys and feedback from your clients. You might also want to talk to your product teams as they may have personas they’re using to guide how they develop your products and services. Following a structured development process is essential, as is asking and documenting detailed information.
Here are 20 questions to get you started.
1) Describe their personal demographics.
Collecting demographic information is a great place to begin drafting your personas because it starts to paint a clearer, more personal picture of your customer. Are they married? What’s their annual household income? Where do they live? Are they male or female? How old are they? Do they have children?
2) Describe their educational background.
What level of education did they complete? Did they attend a university, and what did they study? Get specific here. “Bristol University” is better than “a leading, red-brick, university.”
3) Describe their career path.
How did they end up where they are today? Did they study a subject that’s very similar to or very different from their current role? Has their career track been pretty traditional, or did they switch from another industry?
4) In which industry or industries does their company work?
5) What is the size of their company (revenue, employees)?
Knowing details about your persona’s company like industry, size, number of employees, and other details will help you when you’re building the fields for your landing page forms.
6) What is their job role? Their title?
How long have they had this role and title? Are they an individual contributor, or do they manage other people?
7) Whom do they report to? Who reports to them?
The importance with which you should regard your buyer persona’s job and seniority level certainly depends on the product or service you’re selling.
If you’re a B2C company, you may simply consider this information as another way to better understand nuances of your persona’s life.
If you’re a B2B company, this piece of information becomes more crucial. Is your persona at a managerial or director level, and well versed in the intricacies of your industry? They’ll need less education than someone at an introductory level, who may need to loop in other decision makers before making purchasing decisions.
8) How is their job measured?
Which metric(s) is your persona responsible for? Which numbers or charts or waterfall graphs do they look at every day? This will help you determine what makes them successful, and what they might be worried about when it comes to “hitting their numbers.”
9) What does a typical day look like?
What time do they get to work and what time do they leave? What do they do when they’re most productive? What does their “busy work” look like?
This should include both the tasks they do for their job, as well as what happens during the day outside their job. Are they spending more time at work or at home? Where would they rather be? What do they like to do for fun? Who are the people in their life that matter most? What kind of car do they drive? Which TV shows do they watch? Heck, you might even consider what outfit they wear to work. Jeans or suit? Get personal here.
10) Which skills are required to do their job?
If they were hiring someone to replace them and had to write a job description of what’s actually required, what would it say? What are the ideal skills for this job, and how good is your persona at each of them? Where did they learn these skills? Did they learn them on the job, at a previous job, or by taking a course?
11) What knowledge and which tools do they use in their job?
Which applications and tools do they use every single day? Every week? Understanding what products they love (and hate) to use can help you identify common features in your product (and adjust your positioning accordingly).
12) What are their biggest challenges?
You’re in business because you’re solving a problem for your target audience. How does that problem affect their day-to-day life? Go into detail, and focus on the nuances that illustrate how that problem makes them feel.
For example, let’s say your company sells cloud-based data analytics tools directly to individual contributors. One of your personas may be a first-time analytics user. What are the pain points of first-time users? They’re probably intimidated by the prospect of doing an analysis by themselves, or overwhelmed by a dataset they don’t understand, and confused about where to start. These pain points differ from those of a seasoned data scientist, whose pain points may be not having full access to the data they need or getting access to higher processing power.
Try coming up with real quotes to refer to these challenges. For example, “It’s been difficult getting company-wide adoption of new technologies in the past;” or “I don’t have time to train new employees on a million different databases and platforms.”
13) What are they responsible for?
This goes beyond the metric(s) they’re measured on. What’s their primary goal at work? What about their secondary goal? Knowing these will help you learn what you can do to help your persona achieve their goals and overcome their challenges.
14) What does it mean to be successful in their role?
What can you do to make your personas look good? Companies that take the time to understand what makes their personas successful will likely enjoy more effective communications from both their sales and marketing teams.
15) How do they learn about new information for their job?
If you’re going to market and sell to these personas, you need to understand how they consume information. Do they go online, prefer to learn in-person, or pick up newspapers and magazines? If they’re online learners, do they visit social networks? To Google? Which sources do they trust the most — friends, family, coworkers, or industry experts?
16) Which publications or blogs do they read?
In an effort to piece together how a typical day in their life runs, figure out where they regularly go to stay informed. If you know how they prefer to gather information, you can make yourself present in those spots and work on establishing credibility in those communities.
17) Which associations and social networks do they participate in?
You should be investing time and resources on social media marketing, but the question is: Which social networks should you be investing more time and resources than others? Identify the associations and social networks your buyers spend their time. Then, you can prioritize which accounts to create and which conversations to participate in.
18) How do they prefer to interact with vendors?
The experience of purchasing your product should align with your persona’s expectations. What should their sales experience feel like? Is it consultative? How much time do they expect to spend with a sales person? Do they anticipate an in-person meeting, or would they rather conduct the sales process online or over the phone?
19) Do you use the internet to research vendors or products? If yes, how do you search for information?
Again, which avenues are they using to find new information? Do they search online, look at review websites, ask their friends and family, or something else?
20) Describe a recent purchase.
Why did they consider a purchase, what was the evaluation process, and how did they decide to purchase that product or service? If you can anticipate the objections your persona will have, you can be prepared for them in the sales process and perhaps even educate them in your marketing collateral to help allay fears right away. What might make them reticent to buy from you or any other provider in your industry? Is this their first time purchasing a product or service of your kind? If not, what caused them to switch products or services?
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