Buyer personas are an essential element of successful inbound marketing. This is especially true when dealing with the sales and marketing departments. Why you may ask? Well, the marketing team needs to know to whom they are marketing and the sales team needs to know to whom they are selling. Odds are that when you sit down to develop your buyer personas, you’ll likely find your self staring at a blank screen for a while, wondering where the heck you should begin.
Before you invest either time or money, ask yourself the questions that follow to help define your personas.
20 buyer persona questions to ask when crafting your ideal audience
Questions about their background
1.) Describe your buyer persona’s personal demographics
Gathering demographic information about your buyer persona(s) is a superb place to start. It’s easy to obtain and it helps paint a more clear and personal picture of your ideal customer. Are they married or single? What’s their annual income? Where do they live? How do they identify in terms of gender? How old are they? Do they have children?
2.) Describe your buyer persona’s educational background
What level of education have they achieved so far? Which schools have they attended? What did they study? Get specific here – “Albion Collge” is far better than “liberal arts college.”
3.) Describe your buyer persona’s career path
How did your idea audience get to where they are today? Did they major in a subject that’s close to or drastically different from their current role? Has their career track been more traditional, or did they convert from a different industry?
Questions about their company
4.) In which industry or industries does their company work?
The answer to this question isn’t just the department in which your buyer persona works. Nor is it the service that they provide to their company. Your buyer persona’s industry is the sort of service they deliver to their clients. Knowing this can aid in measuring your business’s impact in the markets you’re targeting.
Depending on the challenges that your buyer persona faces, it could also be worthwhile getting information on the industries that your client’s business serves. This means digging deeper than the actual service that your buyer persona provides.
5.) What is the size of their company (revenue…employees…)?
Knowing the details about your persona’s company – industry, size, number of employees, etc. – will help you when you’re building the fields for your landing page forms.
Questions about your buyer persona’s role
6.) What is their job title/role?
How long have they had their current role and title? Are they an individual contributor. or do they oversee other employees?
7.) To whom do they report? Who reports to you?
The level of importance with which you should regard your buyer persona’s job and seniority level depends heavily on the product or service you’re looking to sell. If you’re a B2C company, you can consider this information as another way to best understand the nuances of your persona’s life.
If you’re a B2B company, this piece of information becomes far more critical. Is your buyer persona at a managerial or director level? Are they well versed in the intricacies of their industry? They’ll likely need far less education than an individual a tan introductory level, who may need to loop in other decision-makers before making a purchasing decision.
8.) How is their job measured?
Which metric(s) is your buyer persona tasked with monitoring? Which number or charts do they pour over every day? This will help you determine how they define success, and what they might be worried about when it comes to ‘hitting their numbers.’
9.) What does a typical day look like?
When do they arrive at work? When do they head home? What do they do when they’re at peak productivity? What’s their ‘busy work’ look like?
This needs to include both the tasks they do for their job, as well as what occurs during the day outside of their job.
- Do they spend more time at work or at home?
- Where would they rather be?
- What do they like to do for fun?
- Who are the people in their lives that matter the most?
- What kind of car do they drive? Which TV shows do they watch?
This step is all about getting personal with your buyer persona and truly getting to know them inside and out.
10.) What skills are required to complete their job successfully?
If they were to hire someone to replace them and were tasked with writing a job description for what’s really required – what would it say? What are the ideal skills for their job? More importantly, how accurate is your buyer persona for each of them? Where did they learn said skill sets? Did they learn them on the job? At a previous job? Or by taking a course?
11.) What sort of knowledge and which tools do they use in their job?
Which applications and tools do they use every day? How about every week? Understanding what products they both love and hate to use can help you identify similarities in your own product. Furthermore, this knowledge allows you to adjust your positioning accordingly.
Questions about your buyer persona’s challenges
12.) What are their biggest challenges?
In the most basic sense, you’re in the business because you’re solving a problem for your target audience. That being said, you need to ask yourself the following question – how do these problems impact their day-to-day lives? You’ll need to dig deep and go into a lot of detail here. Make sure to focus on the subtle nuances that illustrate how those problems make them feel.
For instance, let’s say your company provides personal finance software directly to consumers. One of your personas may be an average person with little to no financial background. What are the pain points for a novice user? Well, they’re likely intimidated by the task of managing their personal finances and overwhelmed with a flurry of equations that they’ve never worked with before. These pain points differ from those of a veteran financial guru, whose pain points may include no knowing how to position their portfolio based on the current market forecast.
Questions about your buyer persona’s goals
13.) What are they responsible for?
This goes far beyond the metrics they’re measured on. What’s their primary goal while at work? Do they have secondary goals? If so, what are they? Knowing these will help you learn what you can do to better help your buyer personas achieve their goals and overcome their various challenges.
14.) What does it mean to be successful in their role?
What can you do to make your buyer personas look good? Companies that take the time to better understand what makes their buyer personas successful will also likely enjoy more meaningful communications from both the sales and marketing teams.
Questions about how your buyer personas learn
15.) How do they learn about new information for their job?
If your plan is to market and sell to your personas, you’ll need to understand how they consume information. Do they go online, prefer to learn in-person, or do they pick up newspapers and magazines? If they’re keen on online learning, do they visit social networks? What about Google? Which sources do they trust the most – friends, family, co-workers, or industry experts?
16.) Which publications or blogs do they read?
In an effort to piece together how a typical day in their life looks, figure out where they regularly go to stay informed. Through knowing how they prefer to gather information, you can make yourself present in those spots and work on developing credibility in those communities.
17.) Which associations or networks do they participate in?
This shouldn’t come as a surprise, but you should be investing time and resources on social media marketing. However, there’s always one looming question: which social networks should you be investing more time and resources than others? You need to identify the associations and networks on which your buyers spend their time. Upon doing so, you can then prioritize which accounts to create and which conversations to take part in.
Questions about your buyer persona’s preferences
18.) How do they prefer to interact with vendors?
The overall experience of purchasing your product should align nicely with your persona’s expectations. That being said, you need to ask yourself the following: what should their experience feel like? Is it more consultative? How much time do they expect to spend with a salesperson? Do they anticipate an in-person meeting, or would they prefer that the sales process remain online or over the phone?
19.) Do they use the internet to research vendors or products? If so, how do they search for information?
Again, ask yourself – which avenues are your personas using to find new information? Do they Google their inquiries, check out review websites, ask their family and friends, or do they go about finding information in a totally different way?
20.) Describe a recent purchase
Why did they consider a purchase, what was their process of evaluation, how did they decide to purchase that product or service?
If you can predict the objections that your buyer persona will have, you can be better prepared for them throughout the sales process and perhaps coach them in your marketing material to help suppress fears from the get-go. What might make them reluctant to buy from you or any other provider in your industry? Is this their first time buying a product or service of your variety? If not, what led them to switch products or services?
Once you’ve had a chance to complete this exercise and work out any dangling questions about what makes your buyer persona(s) tick, take a moment to browse through some stock imagery and find an actual picture to associate with your persona. Engaging in this exercise forces you to develop a clear image of your target audience in your entire organization’s mind that will help keep your messaging on track and on target.
Another helpful exercise is to practice being able to identify your buyer persona so you can customize your communications. How will you know when you’re engaging with each persona? Do you know due to their job title? Is it something about the way they talk or carry the conversation? How about their pain points? Could it be how they found your company? Once you’ve successfully established not only who your persona is, but also how you can identify them when you encounter one or another, your employees will then be able to maintain a consistent voice that is still customized to each person with whom they engage.