Buyer personas are fictional characters based on your ideal customer.
Most often they are created by researching and analyzing customers already buying from you by asking them a series of questions about themselves, their business and their job role. We build buyer personas to help us better understand our target audience(s).
That said, details matter. You don’t have to ask every question that comes to mind when interviewing your clients/customers. You should think strategically and try to collect as many details as possible. Here's a Persona Profile Checklist with several questions to consider.
Moving forward, everything you do with your inbound strategy should tie back to the personas you create.
Again, it may be tempting to skip over questions or entire categories, don’t do it! You need a clear understanding of your persona, not assume the persona that you have.
Now that doesn’t mean you can’t tailor questions to your company or industry. In fact, the more specific you are, the better results you’ll yield, especially when you start to notice trends! For example, rather than ask what’s your work title and where do you go for information, you can ask what is your role in life and do you spend a lot of time reading news online?
Let’s discuss ways in which you can research your personas. In addition to interviewing current customers, other methods include surveying your customers with an online poll like SurveyMonkey, talking to your coworkers and using lead intelligence tools such as the one offered with HubSpot’s sales and marketing software.
With HubSpot, you can gather a tons of useful information by looking through your contacts, including what topics they are reading about, what social media networks they use and what types of content peaks their interests.
Other ways that are useful to collect information for your buyer personas involve searching for industry keywords on various social networks, browsing the comments section of key industry blogs, reviewing LinkedIN profiles and asking questions on social media.
Again, truly the best persona research technique is to interview current customers, clients, donors and students. There’s no perfect number of how many people to interview. Keep going until you start to identify trends. And if you don’t have customers yet, you can still start creating “working” personas based on the knowledge you have of your company, products and services. Even the best personas need to be refined over time as more data is collected.
As you do your research, it will be important to collect your information in one place to reveal similarities in the responses people give. At Peacock Media, we collect everything in Google Drive. Here's the link to our Persona Profile Checklist again.
Now let's look at a sample persona we created for Venture Vick! Venture Vick is a partner in a Venture Capital firm. He enjoys attending startup pitch and business plan competitions, always on the lookout for the next high growth startup to add to his firm’s portfolio. Prior to his career in venture capital, Venture Rick was a successful entrepreneur, having owned and exited several high tech companies. He now wants to use his experience and position to pay it forward, and assist early-stage entrepreneurs in succeeding while growing his region’s venture economy.
While wonderful, this doesn’t mean Venture Vick is without challenges. Mentoring startup founders and managing a large portfolio of fledgling companies leave little time for his family. And when a startup from his portfolio fails to take flight, his firm shoulders the burden, directly impacting the resources necessary to support new innovations.
As far as Information Hot Spots (where Venture Vick goes to learn more about his industry) he prefers reading TechCrunch and Business Insider on his iPad, and uses Twitter and LinkedIN to stay plugged into his network of professionals and entrepreneurs. Venture Vick also uses online resources such as CrunchBase and AngelList to research potential startup investments.
As for Venture Vick’s personal background, he’s married and a father of three. Two of the kids are in college and one will be graduated high school next year.
In terms of his Buying Preferences, Venture Vick does the majority of his shopping online. You won’t see him waiting in any Black Friday lines! His time is too valuable. He appreciates and expects the convenience of technology to deliver exactly what he wants, when he wants it. That said, he relies on online reviews and media articles to feel secure about buying something of quality. While different from his professional role in which he likes to meet with people in-person, having the ability to communicate with vendors online or on a quick phone call when necessary is ideal.
Great story huh? Can you guess who Venture Vick is? Nope! Because remember, personas are not real people. They are characteristic of who your ideal customer is, regardless of how much research is used to create them.
That said, let’s now take our research and transform our notes into a complete persona using the following best practices.
- Focus on motive behind behaviors. Don’t pay attention to what someone is doing, but instead why they are doing it. Understanding these motives is essential to creating a great persona because it essentially gives you the power to predict certain objections or strategies to perfect the efficiency of your sales process.
- Keep personas fictional, but still realistic. Your persona should be a thorough report of who your ideal customer is. In doing this, make sure you’re not actually describing one or two real people. To stay clear of this pitfall, assign a stock photo image to your persona.
- Choose one primary persona. Chances are your business will have more than one persona. Deciding on a primary persona will help you understand which one to focus on first. Select which persona is your primary based on what’s most important to your business. Generally the persona that brings in the most revenue becomes your primary persona.
- Tell your persona’s story. Our favorite! Listing facts is equivalent to making a list. Instead, weave those facts into a story to paint a relatable picture that provides context about who your persona is.
If you’ve already created a buyer persona for your business, let us know in the comments below how many people you interviewed before trends started to pop! What other resources did you use to complement the process?