What Are Buyer Personas?
Personas are archetype clusters of people who exhibit similar attitudes and behavioral patterns. These patterns can include purchasing decisions, comfort with technology, customer service preferences, lifestyle, motivations, or any number of patterns. Personas can include demographic information, but that is not usually a determining factor.
Why Do We Create Personas?
Creating personas enable the team to better understand the wants, needs, desires, motivations, and concerns of customers and prospective customers. You may already know who your target audience is, but you likely do not know their specific wants and motivations. Is their main motivation to impress their boss? How do they achieve that? Personas give you this deeper understanding.
Market research and interviews with actual customers is the best way to create personas.
How Many Personas Should We Create?
As few as possible, but as many as it takes to accurately depict your user base. Creating personas is part art and part science. The client’s budget can also be a determining factor.
How Do You Create Buyer Personas?
The first step in creating buyer personas is conducting interviews.
Create Question Guide: When interviewing people you will want to ask many probing questions (tell me more about that, tell me about a time when, why, etc.), however, you also want a list of questions to help guide the conversation.
Questions you might ask include:
- What is your job role?
- How is your job measured?
- What does a typical day look like?
- What skills are required to do your job?
- What is the size of your company (revenue, employees)?
- What does it mean to be successful in your role?
- What are your biggest challenges?
- How do you learn about new information for your job?
- What publications or blogs do you read?
- Describe your career path. How did you end up where you are today?
- How do you prefer to interact with vendors (e.g., email, phone, in person)?
- Describe a recent purchase. Why did you consider a purchase, what was the evaluation process, and how did you decide to purchase that product or service?
Finding Interviewees: The best way to find people to talk with is to look through your CRM, recent sales, or ask salespeople for references.
You will want to interview as many people as possible until you start noticing patterns and their responses become predictable. This ends up being about five people in each persona.
Interview: Once you have your questions and people to interview, you can conduct the interviews. Again, ask probing questions to dig deeper into their behaviors. It may be necessary to have one person conduct the interviews while another takes notes. Recording the conversation also works, but let the interviewee know they will be recorded.
Conducting the interview in person is best as it allows you to observe non-verbal communication. Video conferences are a decent alternative if budget or location is a constraint. Use phone calls as a last resort. However, cold calling tends to be the fastest option. When cold calling ask if they have XX minutes to answer a few questions, and describe what you are doing. Make sure they know it is not a sales call, and offer an incentive if appropriate.
Next, analyze your research.
- Plot: Lay out the people you talked with along a spectrum for each pattern.
- Find Patterns: Once charted, look for patterns among individuals
3. Create Personas Document
Summarize your findings into an easy-to-digest document.
Summarize and Document: A persona document should clearly summarize the research data. The main elements are a name, demographic, descriptive title, photograph, quote, and end goals. Each project you work on will dictate a certain approach to producing persona documents.
4. Socialize Personas
Share the personas with the client and team and refer to them often. The goal is to distribute the knowledge you have acquired. Then when talking about new ideas, verbally ask, “How would Samantha feel about this?” or “Is this the information George is looking for?”
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