Brian Serocke
By Brian Serocke on August 10, 2020
5 minute read

Persona 101 FAQ

What is a buyer persona? 

A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers.

Why should I conduct persona research? 

Buyer personas provide invaluable structure and insight for numerous teams within your company. A comprehensive buyer persona will tell you where to focus your resources, guide product development, and allow for alignment across the organization. As a result, you will be able to attract the most valuable visitors, leads, and customers to your business.

What types of information should be collected through persona research? 

When creating your buyer persona(s), consider including customer demographics, behavior patterns, motivations, and goals. The more detailed you are, the better.

Read about the types of questions you should be answering here

Two men having fun while conducting persona research

How do you conduct persona research? 

Persona research can be conducted in a few key ways including: 

  • Interviews with current and prospective customers
  • Outside research on your industry through trade publications, academic journals, etc. 
  • Analyzing and auditing the data you already have access to in an email database or CRM.

Buyer Persona Deep Dive

What are the steps in the persona process? 

Research → Create report template/questionnaire → Interviews →Internal Brainstorms → Finalize the reports based on findings.

How often should your team meet to discuss persona planning during the build? 

The answer to how often your team should meet to discuss persona planning depends on a few factors including how many team members you have, where you’re at in the planning process, and how much time your team has to devote. 

In general, the Beacons Point team likes to meet for 10-15 minutes after each persona interview to discuss some of the immediate takeaways while the content of the call is fresh. Longer brainstorming sessions will usually occur closer to the time where you will be preparing the report document to ensure all team members are in agreement as to how the personas should be organized and depicted. 

How long should the persona build process take? 

You should aim for approximately 5-6 minimum interviews along with outside data collection and research from internal and external sources. Additional time should allow for preparing the questionnaire and report templates and well as brainstorming and planning sessions. It’s also smart to set aside a buffer for other “emergencies” that may pop up. 

To put it simply, if you can complete your persona report and deliver within 2 months, you’re on the right track. 

Video crew filming persona interview

Should I record my interviews? 

Yes, yes, yes. Make sure to inform each interviewee that they are being recorded for research purposes. By recording the conversations, you’re able to go back and pull out additional insights you missed in the initial conversation. Recording also allows more flexibility for the rest of the team to not be physically present for each and every persona interview. 

How long should persona interviews last? 

Persona interviews should follow the cadence laid out by your questionnaire and should generally last 25-45 minutes. 

Who should be present on interview calls? 

Ideally, two people from your team should be present on the call. You should have one team member acting as the principal interviewer and a Marketing Assistant who can take notes of interesting opinions and relevant observations. 

If at all possible, do not rely on the interviewer to also be responsible for noting down the insights unearthed in the call. You want to maintain a comfortable flow of conversation to make the interviewee as comfortable as possible. 

How should I prepare for the persona interviews? 

First, make sure the team facilitating the interview has studied up on the intent of each persona question on the questionnaire. Without a sense of what information they should be receiving for each question, they won’t know when and how to ask poignant follow-up questions. 

Additionally, it can also be helpful to send your questions to the interviewee ahead of time. This does two things. It puts the interviewee’s mind at ease knowing what’s coming and it provides a greater probability of getting thoughtful responses. 

For more best practices, see our post here or download our Buyer Persona Resource Pack. 

Should interviews be anonymous? 

Yes. Persona interviews are not something normal people do every day. Questions like “how many children do you have?” “What are the greatest challenges you face at work?” and “What is your household income?” are understandably awkward and very personal. 

Assure your interviewees that their information and responses will remain anonymous. Also, iterate initially that the responses will not be used for any other purpose besides informing a broader semi-fictional persona. Moreover, be generous with explanations about how each question is relevant to your research if asked. The more comfortable you can make the conversation, the better the content you’ll derive from it. 

Beacons Point Persona Questionnaire Template

Get Your Persona Questionnaire
Template Here

 

When should I create my report template? 

The report template should mirror the top-line questions answered in your questionnaire, thus it should be created at the same time as your questionnaire. 

Create the report template before you start conducting any research. 

How often should I reevaluate my buyer personas? 

It’s important to evaluate the relevancy of your personas annually at a minimum. Talking to your customers consistently and staying abreast of industry news and trends makes it very difficult to be caught off-guard by changing customer preferences. 

As soon as consumer habits start changing or your campaigns' performance begins to noticeably worsen, it may be time to start at the beginning of the research process to re-align your personas with their current realities. 

I have finished my personas - now what? 

Your work doesn’t stop the minute you press “save” on your finalized buyer persona report. It’s just beginning. 

The real value in conducting this research is that it gives you the means to tell a concise, digestible story about your target audience. Take the persona report, share it with teams across the company, and begin planning content around the needs and wants of your target customers. 

For more next steps, check out our blog: You've Got Buyer Personas. What's the Next Step?

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Published by Brian Serocke August 10, 2020
Brian Serocke