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How To Create Buyer Personas: A Brief Guide

As discussed previously, buyer personas are a powerful tool for understanding the different people involved in purchasing your product and how they evaluate your company and competitors.

Let’s walk through a brief guide on how to create buyer personas.

The end goal of this process is to create a synopsis of each buyer that will help your entire company understand:

  • Who they are
  • Their role
  • How they evaluate your company

If you need a refresher on what an ideal buyer persona looks like, the Buyer Persona Institute has a great example of a persona.

  1. Audit Your Personas and Create a Short List

To get started, you must first understand what types of people are involved in evaluating and purchasing your products.

For example, with an email marketing product, the following people would typically be involved:

  • Email marketing manager / digital marketing manager
  • VP/Director of marketing
  • IT manager
  • Legal associate

If you need help compiling a list of personas, you can start by:

  1. Analyzing your CRM records and the job titles for your customers. What job titles appear most frequently?
  2. Asking your sales team. Some people involved in the sales process may not be recorded in your CRM. Interview your sales team. Ask “What influencers come into play during the sales process? ”

From here, you should have a list of 3-7 common personas that you can start to investigate.

  1. Schedule Interviews With 5-10 People From Each Persona

Next, you’ll want to interview multiple people that represent each of your buyer personas. The goal is to understand the details – what makes them tick?

When reaching out to schedule the interview, offer to keep the interview short and light-hearted.

Here’s a simple email template you can use for scheduling interviews:

 

Subject: Interview Request 

Body:

Hi Jane,

My name is John Doe and I’m on the marketing team at ACME.

We’re doing a project to help us better understand our customers. As part of the project, we’re scheduling brief interviews with customers like you.

Would you be willing to spend 20 minutes on a brief call with me? I’m not looking to sell you anything, but I’d really appreciate your perspective on a few questions.

Please let me know if there’s a day/time we could schedule.

Thank you,

John

 

  1. Interview Format and Structure

When interviewing people for your buyer personas, your number one goal is to walk away with an understanding of what makes them tick, especially when it comes to evaluating your company’s products.

In the interview, you’ll want to ask about their personal background, their job title and role. Then, ask how they think about your product and other vendors.

Here’s a list of interview questions you should consider asking:

Background

  • What did you study in college? Where did you attend?
  • What are your hobbies? What do you do in your free time?

Role & Company

  • What is your job title?
  • How many years of relevant experience do you have?
  • What industry is your company in?
  • How many employees does your company have?
  • What are your responsibilities?
  • How are you measured or evaluated in your job?
  • Where do you learn about new products and services?

Product/Vendor Specific

  • What were you looking for with a vendor and product?
  • What was your involvement in the selection process? Were you the budget owner? The decision maker?
  • How did you start evaluating different vendors? What was the process?
  • How did you hear about us?
  • What materials, collateral and other information did you use to guide your decision?
  • How important was pricing? What type of budget did you have?
  • How did you expect to measure success with this purchase? What outcomes were you looking for?
  • What were you most fearful of with this purchase?
  • How important was this purchase compared to all of your other projects?

 

  1. Summarize Your Findings

At this point, you will have data on anywhere from 15 – 75 interviews. You’ll want to pull your team together and start to summarize the data. There’s no secret to this. You’ll simply want to look for patterns and similarities in the interview responses and start to draw conclusions about each buyer persona.

And, that’s it! You now have brand new buyer personas to guide your marketing campaigns and sales process.

 

Details That Sometimes Get Missed

  1. Always do interviews. Some people recommend using surveys and questionnaires to build your buyer personas. Don’t do that. During the course of the interview, your interviewees are going to bring up new things you hadn’t previously considered. You need to be able to lean in and say “tell me more about that.” Surveys miss those details.
  2. Interview people from companies that use competitors’ products. These people may have looked at your company, but they chose to work with a competitor. They most likely have slightly different priorities and viewpoints. To grow your business, it’s critical you include data from these people in your personas.
  3. Start by interviewing 5-10 people for each persona. By the 10th person you interview, patterns will start to form.
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Adam Steinberg

Adam is a co-founder of Transpose