As inbound marketing experts, we could preach night and day for weeks on end to the benefits of persona development. However, as marketers it’s far too easy to get lost in the survey and your list of interview questions and lose sight of what you’re really after:
A compelling story.
It’s all a part of the big picture. When you’re drilling your respondents with questions trying to figure out who they are, keep in mind these three questions to help guide and shape your personas into blueprints that a client will find useful and valuable to their business.
Whose story am I telling?
This is integral, especially toward the end of your development cycle when you’re searching for patterns in the data you’ve collected. Knowing whom the story belongs to is the seminal piece to filling in the puzzle of a marketing persona.
While this may seem like a no-brainer, it’s far too easy to get lost in the deluge of questions about the client’s services. When you do that, you’re losing focus on the real story that you’re after. Your interview isn’t to ascertain how much they like or dislike your client—it’s to figure out how they found their product/service and what factors led them toward their buying decision.
Instead of asking, "What has your experience been like," ask the question this way: "What experiences do you look for in a product/service?"
What story am I telling?
Losing focus on the essence of what you’re trying to convey will leave any persona dead in the water. What’s the angle on the persona? How are they different from the others you’ve found? What pattern of information in your data falls squarely in their frame that lights the bulb over your head?
If you can’t answer these questions, it’s time to reevaluate your personas and either gather more data or look into the current data tables a little deeper.
Work with the big pieces first, and work your way down into the finer details. Think of yourself as a sculptor, or an architect. Building the big pieces will lead you to shaping the finer edges later.
How do they fill in the blanks of their story?
Simply put, you have to discover how each persona frames and builds their own story in order to truly understand what their habits are. How do they solve problems? Do they research issues on the internet, or go through their peer network? How do they weight the information differently? Seeing the world through a persona’s eyes means knowing not only what problems they face, but how they solve them as well.
While asking someone, "How did you hear about this product/company/service," you should always follow up with another question that digs further, such as, "When you are looking for a product/company/service, how do you research your options?" This answer will help you find this persona's "watering hole" and find out who they consort with on information.
Building well-rounded and thorough personas isn’t easy. But, that's okay because that’s where we come in! If you’re looking to take your business and its marketing to the next level, perhaps it’s time we had a conversation. To get the ball rolling, take a look and see how your current marketing measures up!