Good content marketing campaigns start with buyer personas. Actually, good marketing, in general, starts with creating buyer personas.
How can you effectively communicate your marketing campaigns with your target audience if you don't know anything about said audience?
To sell to your target audience, you must come to know them. And the way to that is with buyer personas.
I've done a lot of research on buyer personas and have conducted many interviews. I have found there is no perfect formula; there's no perfectly prepared set of interview questions that will apply to everyone.
Before I give you what I believe are the 12 most impactful interview questions, however, it's important to note that when you interview people for buyer persona research, no one is exactly the same.
And I'm not just talking about their personal background—their age, educational background, profession, marital status or income. I'm talking about how they research and how they make a decision. What problems are they experiencing and what are their goals?
A buyer persona's job is to give you clarity on how you should approach your audience, tweak your messaging to use words that appeal to them, and learn about how you can serve them better.
Here are a few other best practices.
Don't just choose current customers. Speak with people who are on the fence about choosing your product/service and people who chose a competitor. The latter may be more difficult to schedule an interview with, so offer an incentive, like an Amazon gift card.
Don't do an interview. Yes, we call them buyer persona interviews, but that's not what they should be. They are actual conversations. Interviews sound formal and stiff. Think about it—how many employees today put their best foot forward in an interview only to be a subpar contributor to the company?
Why should you be more conversational?
A conversation is more casual and telling, so speak to everyone like you are someone they can trust, not a reporter. When developing buyer personas, it's important to have authentic conversations with your target audience. This means moving beyond the formality of an interview and engaging in genuine dialogue that fosters trust and transparency.
By having open and honest conversations with your audience, you can gain valuable insights into their decision-making process, shopping preferences, and other key factors that impact their purchasing behavior. You can also gather information on their job title and annual household income, which can inform your market research and help you tailor your messaging to better resonate with them.
So, ditch the traditional interview approach and opt for a more relaxed and conversational style. This will help you build stronger relationships with your audience and gain deeper insights into their needs and desires. By doing so, you can create more effective buyer personas and develop marketing strategies that speak directly to the unique wants and needs of your target audience.
Don't ask yes or no questions. Every question you ask should lead to a detailed answer. Yes or no answers will not provide you with the insight you need. If you find yourself stuck in a conversation with someone who isn't offering helpful information, thank them for their time and politely end the call. Not every buyer persona interview will be a home run. Trust me.
Listen. Depending on the topic, people can get emotional. When I say listen, I mean be caring and empathetic, but I also mean listen. This is the time to get incredible insights into this buyer and their buying habits.
Send a reminder. This may seem obvious, but always send a reminder to the people you are interviewing. They, too, have busy schedules, so a friendly reminder the day before your interview is a wise move.
Keep the calls to 20-30 minutes. Not only is this a respectful timeframe for the person you are interviewing, but it's also when people start to lose interest. And I don't just mean the person you are speaking to — I mean you, too! If you find yourself in an engaging conversation full of buyer persona gems, then, by all means, keep talking! Just keep sipping that coffee.
Remove all distractions. If you want to truly pay attention to the person you are speaking with, remove all distractions. Shut yourself in a room, put away your phone, and close out of everything on your computer. Need to take notes in addition to your recording? Write them. Your typing may distract the interviewee.
So without further adieu, here are the top 12 questions to ask during your buyer persona “conversations.” These are merely suggestions and should always be tailored to the person you are interviewing and the company you creating buyer personas for.
12 Buyer Persona Questions To Use During Your Interviews
- Can you tell me a little about yourself? Your age, education, profession?
- Tell me about your job. What are your roles and responsibilities? What’s a typical day look like at the office?
- What about at home? What does a typical day look like there?
- Let’s talk about [insert brand/service/product]. What triggered you to start looking for this type of solution? Take me back to that day. What happened?
- What problems were you experiencing?
- What goals were you wanting to achieve? What successful results did you envision with this type of solution?
- So how did hear about this solution? [word of mouth, online, email, advertisement, etc.]
- How did you evaluate your options? Did you look into other companies with similar product/services? How did they all compare?
- How did you research this solution [social media, online, email, magazine, book, etc.] And how long did you research? Tell me about that process.
- Did you have any concerns about [insert company name] or their [insert product/service]? If so, tell me about them.
- Tell me about your buying process. Who or what influenced you? Who was involved in this process?
- What all factored into your final decision? What did your final choice come down to?
You’re probably wondering why I use the word “Tell” so much. Well, for one, it’s conversational, and two, it’s direct and pointed.
I based these questions not only on the 5 Rings of Buyer Persona Insights from the Buyer Persona Institute and Adele Revella’s teachings but also the StoryBrand Framework from Donald Miller. They make quite the dynamic duo when it comes to creating clear messaging that speaks directly to your customers.
Want more buyer persona resources? Download our FREE buyer persona ebook and FREE buyer persona templates!
Make Clear Messaging Part of Your Business Growth Strategy
Buyer personas are just one piece of clear messaging, an essential component to a successful marketing strategy. If your messaging is messy and confusing, it doesn't matter how precise your buyer personas are. You'll still lose customers before they even get on the phone.
Ready to get started? Schedule a free strategy session with our team. We'll get to know your business challenges and help you implement a proven business growth strategy.
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