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Critical Questions to Ask in Building Your Buyer Persona


In marketing, we all recognize how important it is to know your product.  You have to know what you’re selling.  But it is at least equally important to know who you’re selling to.  Who will buy your product or service? Who needs it? Who wants it? In your inbound marketing strategy, the “who” is absolutely foundational. Once we know our audience, we can better craft our content to them and draw them to our products and services more successfully and consistently.  This is why we want to make sure you’re building your Buyer Persona as an image of your ideal customer–the who you are trying to reach.  In classic Socratic form, this article is going to answer the question of “how to develop a buyer persona” with some questions of its own.  Take a look below at the critical questions you need to ask in building a well-developed buyer persona, which is the starting point of your inbound marketing efforts.


1)    What is their demographic?

 In creating a Buyer Persona, we want every detail that affects our ideal customer’s identity.  Age, gender, and marital status all come into play here. What is their household income annually? Do they have children? This basic information begins to shape a person that will continue to get more complex and developed as you move through this process.


2)    What do they do for a living and what is their level of seniority?

 Depending on what your product or service is (whether, for instance, you are B2C or B2B), your Buyer Persona’s professional information may impact your inbound marketing strategy in different ways. It may simply add to your general understanding of them and where they’re coming from, or it may influence your approach and content more deeply.  If you are B2B, consider the different factors involved in making a sale to a lower level employee vs. a C-level executive. The difference between the two, from the amount and style of information that each is looking for to their very different decision-making authority, will change your communication style significantly.


3)    What does their average day look like?

 This question is should be taken as literally as possible.  We have gotten some good skeletal structure in place for our Buyer Persona with questions 1 and 2, but now its time to add some substance and personality. What do they do when they first wake up? How do they get to work? How long is that commute? Coffee or tea? How long, on average, do they spend in the office? How do they feel about that? What T.V. shows do they watch? What do they do for fun?  All this information will bring you closer and closer to developing a real, complex, person who brings their whole identity with them when they shop.  You are serving that whole identity, not just broad generalities. So, come on! Get to know your Buyer Persona a little!

When you’re done, it’s even helpful to go online and pick a stock picture that you identify with your Persona. It really brings together a whole picture.


4)    What are their pain points?

 Let’s go back to good customer service basics: one of the first lessons we learn is “What can I do for you?” We’re here to provide a great product or great service that will meet a need. We have to know what that need is and how it affects our Buyer Persona if we are going to present ourselves or our products as the best solution.  Break your Persona’s need down into as many individual needs as you can. Lets say you sell accounting software to small business owners. Sure, your ideal customer needs accounting software, but let’s tease that out a bit. It’s likely that your customers are not accountants. They need a program that is user friendly and straightforward, so that they don’t have to spend their valuable time learning to use complicated features.  They probably need something that works with their intuitive understanding of business transactions and does not require them to be comfortable with all the subtleties of accounting principles. You get the idea.


5)    What are their goals? What do they value?

Looking at your Buyer Persona’s pain points can help you understand their goals and what they value. Continuing the example above: your small business owner would like to maintain the books as accurately as possible without needing to be a CPA, they want their accounting software to be easy to use, but rigorous. They’d LOVE it if the software could walk them through trickier bookkeeping and accounting transactions. And, oh man, what they wouldn’t give for an associated support package, with access to educational videos and community forums.


6)    Where do they do their research?

 Where is your Buyer Persona likely to look when they are try to meet their needs and how can you have a consistent presence there? Does your Persona look online or rely mainly on word of mouth? Do they use social media? How aboutGoogle keyword searches? Ask yourself where can you set up “shop” to let your Persona know you’re open for business and have exactly what they’re looking for.


7)    What is their ideal shopping experience when they are in the market for your goods or services?

We want our customers to heave a sigh of relief when they encounter us and what we offer. How much time do they want to spend researching the product? How much contact or interaction do they want from you? Do they appreciate one-to-one, in person assistance? Do they prefer to interact over the phone or email? Understanding who your Persona is will help you establish some of their expectations for their shopping experience with you. Once you establish these, you can strive to meet those expectations.


8)   What issues do they commonly take with your product or service?

Anticipating what your customer’s objections may be when building your Persona will help you determine the best approach in your sales efforts.  It will also guide your content, since you can address some of these issues or concerns directly in blog posts or in downloadable info-sheets, ebooks, etc. We want to help allay the fears that our customers have and that form obstacles to our ability to build mutually beneficial relationships with them. Make sure your Persona has some of these “hang-ups” that we all encounter in our real-life customers.


When you and your team start building your buyer persona (right after finishing this post, of course), asking these 8 questions will really help you formulate a complete picture of your customer.  You can continue to add to your Buyer Persona and refine, but these key points down are critical.

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