Persona development is becoming increasingly sophisticated as more organizations are make it standard operation procedure. If you’re new to buyer personas or eager to learn more about the development process, check out the Resources section of this guide. Below are answers to a few frequently asked questions about buyer personas.
How do I find buyers to interview?
Ask your sales reps for the contact info of people who are considering buying — and the names of people who chose not to buy from you. Look at the information in your marketing automation system for people who took free trials but didn’t convert. Check out their LinkedIn profiles to get a sense of their roles, responsibilities and goals. People who agree to meet with you are doing you quite a favor, so make sure you promise to keep the meeting short — no more than 20 minutes, says Revella. And you spring for the chai latte or green tea.
Who conducts the interviews with the buyers?
Usually buyer personas are developed by the Marketing team. It’s not written in stone, but it makes sense because sales operations has plenty on its plate, such as prospecting, building relationships and closing sales. Ideally one or two marketers per product or product line works best. This ensures consistency and continuous monitoring and improvement of the interview process as interviewers get more meetings under their belts. Eventually, these marketers will become your buyer persona experts. Of course, make sure Sales is always involved, reaching out to contacts and offering their own valuable insights about those contacts. They’re busy folks: celebrate and reward them.
In what setting should I interview buyers?
In person. Phone calls won’t cut it. You want to observe the raised brows, rolling eyes, heavy sighs and tapping toes.
How many buyers do I need to interview?
More is better. However, when you’re starting out, don’t wait until you’ve interviewed 40 people before you develop your first persona. Quantity is great, but quality is more valuable. Conduct five interviews, break down what each has told you and start telling stories: flesh out your first persona.
How often do I update my personas?
At least once per year. If you’re in a fast-moving industry, more often. Remember that it’s an ongoing process because everything changes. People change.
How many personas do I need?
It depends on the guru you ask. Some say one per product or per product line. Others advise you to create a few for each product, each representing one of the multiple decision makers or influencers on the buying team. The more detail you add to each persona, weaving in emotional motivations for purchasing (or not purchasing) with the pursuit of specific business goals — like saving $5M annually in domestic shipping costs — the more insight your personas will reveal. This intel informs your process for creating, tailoring and delivering content to individual buyers.
Any other questions I should ask?
Ask buyers which news sites, trade pubs and other media they consume and the thought leaders they follow. Additionally, ask them about their media consumption habits. What devices do they use and how often? At what time of day? And where? Suddenly you’ll have access to a treasure trove of insights: buyers’ favorite, trusted information sources, what resonates with them most. Leveraging this intel, your SAM team can create highly relevant content and target it to buyers on the right device, at the right time and place.
With buyer personas at your command, your content program will increase its ability to deliver the Holy Grail of content marketing: content in context. Additionally, well-composed personas can help sales reps — and distributors and channel partners — prepare more thoroughly for meetings and guide them in choosing and customizing content for their presentations.