Finding Your Target Audience’s Hot Buttons
Buyer personas have many uses. Writing content that resonates is an easy one that comes to mind. Reallocating your AdWords budget is another. If you’re interviewing actual customers, then you want a concise list of questions for your persona research. Here’s our list of must-ask questions, especially for B2B products and services, that you can build upon.
Basic Demographic Information
As you embark on persona research, these questions need to make your list. The answers will help you create a foundation to build upon. Typically you conduct live interviews with customers rather than via a survey or online form. While one-on-one conversations take longer, it adds a level of flexibility that can uncover some market research “AHAs.” The Buyer Persona Institute suggests having a structured form to keep yourself on track. Plus, they recommend spending at least 30 minutes in the interview.
- What’s your age? Or if that’s a little too nosy, create age ranges. The goal here is to determine which generation (Millennial, Gen X, Young Baby Boomer, etc) they are in.
- Male or Female? Pretty self-explanatory. However, posing this question could really put your interviewee off.
- Are you married, single, divorced? Do you have children; how old are they? While on the surface this question may seem irrelevant, some buying decisions may require discussion with someone else in the household. It really depends upon your product or service and the buying cycle. And don’t forget that children can have a major impact on their parents’ spending habits.
- What level of education did you complete? For B2B products/services, I’d follow this up with queries about what they studied and what school(s) did they attend. Your persona research may uncover some surprises that can affect tone and language of your marketing materials.
Persona Research Related Career, Job Title & Role
- What was your career path to your current role? Sometimes there’s a traditional and linear progression in a person’s career. Or, the individual may have landed into an opportunity and grown with the company. Either way, asking this question will help find language that resonates with the person.
- What’s your current title? What are the areas of primary responsibility? Job descriptions can vary widely between companies. Your persona research is about breaking through assumptions and gathering specifics.
- What metrics are used to measure your performance? If your service can do more with less and make them look good in the process… success! Find out what really is really important to your customer.
- Please describe your typical day. Is your ideal customer an over-scheduled professional who commutes 1.5 hours a day by train? Or do they work remotely and only go into the office a couple days a month? The answers may significantly impact how your buyers interact with your brand.
- What gets in your way of success? This question is meant to dig into benefits and features, identifying ones that have the most interest and/or impact.
Preferences for Consuming Information
- What tools do you use everyday? This question is meant to uncover the applications and products used frequently. Are they on social media for work? If so, which ones? For example, your audience may use a forum specific to a their function and rarely check in to their LinkedIn account. Understanding how a buying segment works and their preferred tools enables you to narrow your focus on tactics that break through the clutter.
- Where do you go to learn new information? This is probably one of my favorite persona research questions. It provides insight on the media your buyers prefer to read. Your B2B buyer may avoid websites and blog articles, thinking they are too salesy (not an uncommon opinion of scientists and some engineers). They may prefer a more old-school approach like in-person networking or professional organization’s newsletter.
The Buying Process
- When interacting with a vendor, what do you want/expect from them? The answers will help you craft (or revamp) your lead nurturing efforts. Is calling once a week too frequent or not enough? There may be significant generational differences in how your buyers view the sales process. People tend to buy from those they like. Your persona research will help you figure out the right balance between persistence and irritation, between information overload and just-in-time data.
- When buying a product or service, what review sites do you research? Google reviews may be more important than Yelp. Or vice versa. Or neither.
- Describe a recent purchase that you made. While the purchase itself may not relate to your business, it will give you a window into their decision-making process and preferences.
What other persona research questions would you add to my list?
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photo credit – top: Andres F. Ramirez
photo credit – body: Matt Jiggins