Buyer Persona, Cindy Frei

According to Forrestertoday’s buyers might be anywhere from two-thirds to 90% of the way through their journey before they reach out to a vendor. It’s critical more than ever, that we understand: who we’re targeting, what our messaging is and when it’s delivered during the sales cycle, the nature of the content we’re creating, and where to prioritize our investment. A Buyer Persona Program can help define all of these elements. 

In this post, I am going to walk you through the 5 steps to create a Buyer Persona program.

 

A Buyer Persona is a description of a specific person for whom your products and services are intended. It goes beyond statistics and demographics, and defines behaviors, motivations, likes/dislikes and traits of your ideal customer.  Its intent is to help you reach your customers on a human level so you can create marketing content that is for someone and not everyone.


How well do you think you know your Buyers? Let’s start with a couple of quick questions:

  • Do you know what they like and dislike about your product or service?
  • Do you know who has the purchasing power in the organization to “pull the trigger” to buy your product/service?
  • Do you know what your client’s pain point is?
  • Do you know which social media platforms your Buyer users? If so, how often and what kind of content do they consume?
  • Do you know what resources your Buyer uses to research before purchasing products/services similar to yours?

Most marketers and sales reps can’t answer these questions. 

 
Here are the 5 Steps to create a Buyer Persona for your Business:

1. Locating Your Buyer Personas   

 

Your Buyer Personas are created through research, surveys and interviews. Your buyers can be divided into two main categories, those that purchased from you and those that didn’t. Understanding why someone didn’t purchase from you can be more valuable than those that did. First, you want to get a list from sales of all the buyers/non buyers from the last 60-90 days. Your first obstacle might come from within your own organization (sales), so be prepared. Your VP, Marketing might need to talk to your VP, Sales about the benefits of the marketing department having a deeper buyer expertise in order to get buy in into the Persona program. This will entail him/her understanding the value of  messaging targeted to each buyer’s concerns, needs, objections and how that will lead to higher quality leads. 

Once you’ve got email addresses and phone numbers, its time to research your potential interviewees. What’s their purchasing history with the company? Go to their social media profiles and learn as much as you can online before attempting to contact them. 
 
*Tip: When a buyer/non-buyer agrees to do a phone interview, you will want to record it so that it can be transcribed at a later date. Make arrangements for recording capabilities ahead of time. This also saves from having to take copious notes during the interview. 

2. Securing the Interview

 
This is a three step process. A phone call, a follow up email and a follow up phone call if necessary. Most of us have become rather phone phobic and prefer to use email as our main source of communication, especially to people we do not know. But, having tried this both ways, I can assure you, emailing alone does NOT work. We all know how many emails arrive in our email box every day and the odds of getting a response from someone that you don’t know is slim to none. Most department heads are reachable between the hours of 7:30-9am, 12-1pm and 4:30-6pm. You will either get the buyer on the phone, reach their voicemail or their assistant. In either case, ensure that you include the following in your message:
  • Be completely honest about the purpose of your call. You are seeking 20-30 minutes of their time to discuss their buying (or lack thereof) experience with your company. 
  • Assure the buyer that you aren’t selling anything, otherwise they will hang up.
  • Don’t sound guilty on the call. Be appreciative, but not apologetic.
  • Buddy up to the Assistant. Make him/her your best friend. 
  • Use first names, ” Hi Joe, this is Cindy…”
  • Let them know you will followup with an email – encourage them to open it.

Odds are, you will get a voicemail message. Afterwards, send them an email, referring to the voicemail, with a couple more details and the times you can be reached. If they do not respond to the email, you may find that you need to make an additional call to lock down the interview.

3. Preparing for the Interview 

 
After you thoroughly research your buyer/non-buyer, make a list of all of the questions you want to ask, organizing them by category. Here are the categories I have used when creating my Buyer Personas:
  • Their Story – This is a great ice breaker and is the story of their recent purchase. Have them walk you through, step-by-step, all of the details of their recent buying experience.
  • Background – What is their title in the company? Who do they report to? How long have they worked there? Try and get all of the basic information about the person you are speaking with. 
  • Goals – Ask questions to try and understand what the buyer’s primary and secondary goals are in their business.
  • Pain Points – What are their challenges? What keeps them up at night?
  • Resources/Information – Where do they go for information/advice? Do they read the newspaper, read CNN online? When they were researching your product/service, where did they go?
  • Social Media – What platforms do they use? What kind of content do they ingest – video, slideshares, blogs etc. 
  • Personal Info- I usually end my interviews with the personal questions after we have had a chance to get to know each other a bit. This is when I ask whether they are married, have kids, what their hobbies are etc. 

 

4. Conducting the Interview

 
The key to conducting a good interview is to listen (not talk too much), find a topic the buyer is passionate about (ideally prior to the interview), so that you can relate to it, ask open ended questions, don’t interrupt, make it all about them (not you), make it conversational and have fun. I’ve enjoyed almost every Buyer Persona interview I have conducted. It’s nice getting to know and meet new people. Convincing them to do the interview is potentially the hard part.
 
Make sure you record your interviews. Save each one using your Buyer’s name and date. Once I completed my interview, I immediately sent it off to be transcribed. Read on to understand why.

5. Building Your Personas

 
Once you have completed between 6-8 interviews, you are ready to put together your Buyer Personas. At this point, you should have all of your transcriptions in front of you. Highlight the relevant answers to each of your questions and then cut them out (with a pair of scissors), grouping the similar answers together. I used a cork board and pinned them in front of me so that I could see them easier. Now you are ready to determine whether certain characteristics or demographics will help you group similar Buyers together into a single persona. Soon, you will know how many Personas you have.   
 
You might find your Personas falling into groups like Small Business Owner, Department Head, CXO’s, Office Manager. Once you do, now fill them out and actually give them names, like David the Department head. Find a picture on the Internet to use, and provide David’s relevant details (which are a combination of all of the department heads you spoke with). Hubspot provides a good Buyer Persona template to use. If would like to take a workshop to learn in greater detail how to create Buyer Personas for yourself or your company, the Buyer Personas Institute has very informative classes (I took one myself).

With these Buyer Personas in hand, you now have the information needed to create a targeted content marketing strategy. 

I hope this article was helpful.

Cindy Frei
*If you would like guidance in creating a Buyer Persona Program, drop me an email and we can talk further. In the mean time, learn more about what we do on my website – Vizolution.tv.
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