This post is the second of a 2-part series, read part one here.
In part one of the two part series about how to create effective buyer personas for your business, we covered the basics about what buyer personas are and why they are important. In this post, we will cover the steps you need to take in order to create your own buyer personas.
Where to begin?
In order to build accurate buyer personas, you will want to combine research, interviews, and surveys within your target market. Insights can be drawn from current customers within your own database, sales reps, customer service reps, forms on your website, surveys, social media channels, and more.
Look at Your Own Database
Start with your own customer database. Separate your target market segments into lists and look for common threads that exist among those within that list. If you use a CRM, reference the communications history between the customer and your sales and service teams.
Look at the customer’s purchase history and, if you use a marketing automation system, review the history of interaction with your website and emails. Some questions you might ask in order to better understand and develop this buyer persona include:
- How did this customer find your company?
- How long did it take for this person to become a customer (sales cycle length)?
- Was there any content in particular that this person frequented?
- What may have been the final trigger that compelled this person to buy?
- Did she need buy-in from someone else in the company, such as a manager or executive in another department?
The more you can understand about the entire buying process, from awareness to close, the better you will be able to develop content that will move a prospective customer through the buying process naturally.
Talk to Your Customer-Facing Employees
Some of the questions mentioned above can be addressed with your internal team. The people who know our customers best are sales and customer service reps. Consider them instrumental assets when developing your buyer persona and eventual content.
What can your sales team say about the customers that are easiest to close? Do they share common traits? What can they say about customers that are difficult to close?
Interview your customers about what they like most or least about your products. Find out, from their perspective, what brought them to you and compelled them to become a customer.
Don’t be afraid to ask your customers what stumbling blocks they have encountered on the journey to becoming a customer and even now as a customer. By doing this, you might uncover new content opportunities that will prevent other prospects from slipping through the cracks in the sales process and may also be able to develop tools to help retain existing customers.
Send a Survey
The classic secondary research tool of sending surveys is still a very effective way of rounding out your buyer persona research. In the past, we’ve found that incentives like gift cards or donations to a relevant cause for every survey completion has been effective in encouraging participation.
Here are some questions you might ask in an interview geared towards building a buyer persona:
- What is your role or job title?
- How is your success measured?
- What skills are required to do your job?
- Describe a typical day at your job.
- What knowledge and tools do you use at your job on a regular basis?
- Who do you report to? Who reports to you?
- Describe your educational background. Which schools did you attend and what did you study?
- What led you down this career path?
- If appropriate, ask about personal demographics (i.e., family status, age, etc.).
- In which industries does your company work?
- What is your company’s size (total revenue, employees)?
- Describe your professional responsibilities.
- What does success in your role look like?
- What are your biggest professional challenges?
- Where do you go for information about your job?
- Are there any industry associations that you turn to for information?
- What blogs or publications do you read?
- What social media networks do you count on?
Purchase Behaviors and Preferences
- How do you prefer to communicate with vendors? Email, phone, or in person?
- What sources do you use (offline and online) to research vendors? If the internet is one resource, how do you use it?
- Describe a recent purchase. How did you evaluate it and what compelled you to buy?
Once you have defined and developed the basic information about your buyer personas, create a fictitious character to represent this persona. Come up with a memorable name, like “HR Holly” or “Accountant Annie”, along with a stock image to represent that person. Among other things, this will help ensure everyone in the organization really knows who you’re talking about when you mention the persona.
Feel free to use this buyer persona creation template as a tool for creating your own buyer persona.
About the author:
Erin Carpenter is the co-founder and CEO of Hidden Peak Interactive. Hidden Peak Interactive is focused on marketing and sales alignment, as well as helping companies accelerate sales with strategies that embrace modern buyer behavior and technology. Connect with Erin on Twitter @ehcarpenter.