36 Questions to Ask During Buyer Persona Interviews

You’re going to create a semi-fictional character and use it to attract the right people who will buy from your company. Yep! One of the best ways to help your company attract more clients or customers is to know precisely who you want to attract in the first place. The more you know about them, the better you can position your marketing to effectively engage them. That’s where creating buyer personas come in.

What is a buyer persona?

Think of a buyer persona as a fictional character based on factual information about who is buying from your company. The best buyer personas have names, and you can go deep into their needs, desires, struggles, and who they are as human beings too.

These personas help sales and marketing gain valuable insight into who is buying the company’s offerings so they can tailor their content and approaches to these people. It can also be used to map out the buyer’s journey and sales processes. Knowing your buyer persona also helps your social media team create the right content on the right platform for the right people.

Today we’re going to walk you through how you can create your own buyer personas for your company and how to use them to attract the right people who are ready and willing to buy.

Researching your buyer personas

There are two ways to create buyer personas:

Neither is wrong, per se. Many start-ups or early-stage companies will often take a semi-educated stab in the dark. But if you have the chance to ask a real person the buyer persona questions we’re about to share with you, you’re going to get a far more precise picture of this character you’re creating.

When you interview real people to create your buyer persona, try to interview a small handful of them (3-5 is usually good). Then you can look for trends and similarities they share.

You can also gather much of this information through less direct means, like reading company reviews and testimonials online, listening in on sales or support calls, and talking to customer-facing co-workers.

Recommended buyer persona questions

Below are 36 buyer persona questions you can ask your ideal customer. This is not an exhaustive list. We encourage you to customize this list based on your company and the information you need to know about them to sell more effectively.

For example, if you are a technology or software company, you may ask more questions of a technical nature. Many of these questions work for both Business-to-Business (B2B) and Business-to-Consumer (B2C) companies. No matter what you ask, keep them open-ended questions and encourage the interviewee to share stories and as much detail as possible.

Are you ready? Here are the top 36 buyer persona questions to ask your target customer. Customize them as much as possible, so you get the information you need:

Ask about them, personally

  1. Share with me your age group, gender, family and relationship status, and ethnic background (TIP: Ask these questions one at a time and allow them time to answer. If you can clearly tell characteristics like their age group, gender, and ethnicity, you can record this information without asking them these questions).
  2. Where did you go to post-secondary school, what did you study there, and what certifications or degrees do you have?
  3. Share about your career path from where you started to today.
  4. What do you like to do in your spare time?
  5. What is your biggest wish for yourself, your family, or the world?

Ask about the company (These are questions you would ask if you are selling to another business)

  1. Tell me about your target customer or client in as much detail as possible.
  2. How many employees does your company have?
  3. What does the decision-making process look like?
  4. What is your company’s typical budget for [insert your product or service in general, or high-level terms, here]?
  5. What are typical challenges companies in your industry face?

Ask about their job (Again, these are more for B2B personas)

  1. What’s your job title, department, who do you report to?
  2. How do you influence the decision-making or buying process in your company?
  3. What does your typical day look like?
  4. What are the most valuable skills in your job?
  5. What industry or networking associations do you participate in?

Ask about how they consume information (aka learn)

  1. Where/How do you learn new information and skills to excel in your career or personal interests?
  2. What websites, publications, blogs, or resources do you read regularly?
  3. Do you prefer to learn new things by reading, watching videos, listening to podcasts or audio, or a combination?
  4. What social media platforms are you active in and why?

About their challenges

  1. What are your biggest challenges with [insert your niche or product in general or high-level terms here]?
  2. Have you tried to solve these challenges before? Tell me about that.
  3. What impact would it have on you to have these challenges solved? What would be its impact on the company?
  4. What roadblocks have you encountered? (Find a way to relate this back to your company’s niche or products)
  5. What is your biggest fear? (Again, relate this back to what you do)
  6. What are common reasons that a solution/product doesn’t meet your needs (Once more, relate this to what your offer is)
  7. If you could have one challenge solved for you right now, what would that be and why?

About their goals

  1. What are your company’s (or your) 1-year and 5-year goals? Which are your top priorities?
  2. Are there any areas your company is looking to improve to attract more customers or get ahead of the competition?
  3. How do you measure the progress and success of these goals?
  4. If you could achieve one goal right now, what would that be and why?

About their shopping/buying preferences

  1. Where do you research or compare new products?
  2. Are you more likely to buy in-store or online? (Follow-up if they answer online: Would you buy from your smartphone browser, an app, or a desktop computer?)
  3. Do you need to touch or try the product/service before you buy it?
  4. What payment methods do you prefer using?
  5. What kinds of deals, coupons, bonuses, or incentives would convince you to buy?
  6. Describe a recent purchase you made, starting when you first had the need to buy it to when you first used it.

How to create your buyer persona

Once you have gathered the answers to your buyer personal questions, it’s time to analyze the data. Look for commonalities among the responses and highlight them.

Here’s how you assemble a buyer persona (the character):

  • Step 1: Go to a stock photo website and find a picture of someone who looks like they could be your target customer. Take their photo and insert it at the top of your page.
  • Step 2: Then give them a name. It can be as simple as a fictitious first and last name or a name that includes their job title and fictitious first name. For example: “ESL Teacher Eliza” or “Software Team Supervisor Stanley.” Write (or type) this name next to their picture.
  • Step 3: List their basic demographic information in a box on the page.
  • Step 4: List summaries of the most common responses to your main interview questions. You don’t have to include everything, but you need just enough so they start to feel like a real person.

Some additional tips on creating your character

  • Don’t write “Jan is between 20 and 25,” instead, write “Jan is 23 years old.”
  • Don’t write “Sam is a woman or a man,” instead, write “Sam is a woman.”
  • Don’t write “Angela is a department manager or an entry-level marketer,” instead, write “Angela is a Partner Marketing Manager.”

Do you get the idea? Be specific, like you are writing a character for a play.

Want some examples of simplified buyer personas? Check out these personas on the Alexa blog.

How to use your buyer personas

Now that you’ve done all the work, you need to use these buyer personas to your advantage! First, share these personas with any customer-facing staff at your company. These will most likely include senior executives, sales and marketing reps, and customer service teams. Make sure everyone knows who they are selling to and how to use these buyer personas.

These personas may also help you refine your buyer’s journey (or your buyer’s journey might influence your personas). They work together really well. That’s why sharing across your teams can help everyone get on the same page.

Here are a few other ways to use these personas:

  • Pretend to read marketing copy to this person and imagine what they’d be thinking.
  • When developing marketing campaigns, or product features, refer to their challenges and needs and make sure your content speaks to these needs.
  • Use your personas’ demographic and career information to cold-call or begin nurturing relationships with the right decision-makers and buyers.

You may need to create several buyer personas depending on your business. Do your best to keep it to 2-3 max where possible.

And finally, revisit your buyer personas annually or whenever you have a significant shift in your company. They might not need to be redone from scratch but more likely modified and amended to match your target buyers changing needs and your company’s offerings.

If you are new to creating buyer personas the Out-Smarts team can help you! We can also help you develop digital marketing strategies that are aimed at attracting your ideal customers. Drop us a line and let’s chat about how we can help you reach your buyers through digital marketing.

Images and How to Use Them Without Getting in Trouble

Images are an excellent addition to your website, blog post or social media and can help you get more shares and interactions. However, not all images on the internet are okay to use since there are laws that allow people to have rights to those images. Using just any image you find on the internet can get you in big trouble and leave you with a hefty fine!

Image Copyright Laws in Canada

We live in a world where images are so easy to find with just a click of a button but we can’t use any image we find since there is a cost for ownership of most images. It’s important to be aware of copyright laws in Canada to ensure you don’t get fined for using content you find online. Under the law, any image taken by any device (camera, smartphone, etc.) is subject to copyright. This means that if someone takes a photo, it is their photo and anyone else that would like to use it has to seek permission from the photographer. The photographer is not required to register their work to have it copyrighted since when the photo is saved (onto a smartphone or camera roll) it automatically is subject to copyright and is protected under copyright laws. Therefore, it is essential that we learn to keep these laws in mind because if you get caught using an image that belongs to someone else- you could be fined!

How To Find Great Free Images

There are many ways to find images that are free and can enhance your content.

1. Create your own images: Grab your camera or even your smartphone to capture some images! This allows you to be in full control of what the image will love like and leaves tons of room for customization. Also, having your own images ensures that the content is original and authentic.

2. Find royalty-free images on Google: When you search on Google, make sure you’ve clicked the “labeled for reuse” button! This allows you to reuse the image. See below:
How To Find Great Free Images on Google

3. Use Creative Commons to search multiple platforms to find free images: This site allows you to search for images easily and helps you find free images from various platforms. Check out our blog post on Creative Commons for more information.

4. Find free images online: Using sites such as allthefreestock.com allows you to search for various free images, videos, music and icons that are royalty-free.

5. Tools such as Canva: Canva allows you to edit your images and it basically works as an easy-to-use graphic design platform. It also has a massive repository of free images along with fairly inexpensive images (approximately $1 for a high-quality image).

6. Buy images: There are sites that allow you to purchase high-quality images. Sites such as iStock allows you to buy images for as little as $12 per image. You can also get a subscription for $40 per month that gets you 10 images per month.

If you’re ever in doubt, you can always check where that image appears online through TinEye. You simply upload your image or paste a URL of the image and this tool does a reverse search to find out where that image appears online.

Keep these tips in mind next time you add images to your content!

Link Building – 9 Ways to Get More Links to Your Website

What is Link Building

Link building is the process of getting external sites to link back to your site. The more of these links you have from high-quality sites the more this positively impacts your position in the search engine results pages.

Here at Out-Smarts, we often get asked to assess company websites from a search engine perspective, to ascertain why their page isn’t appearing higher on Google. One reason is that they don’t have enough backlinks to their website or they have the wrong kind of backlinks – links from other websites tracking back to their site.

The ChainDespite Google’s algorithm changes, links are still valuable online, the more your website has the better its ranking will be but you have to be really careful how you go about building links. Link building can be extremely time consuming, can seem like a fruitless task and if you do it wrong can be damaging.

Here are 9 ways that you can build links back to your site:

Link Building Techniques

1. Social Networks – use your social networking presence to link back to your site or blog posts. This will drive traffic to your site and traffic is one of Google’s rank factors (double whammy!). The links to your website in your social bios and about sections are really important to so make sure you’ve included those and updated them to https.

2. Directories and Citation Sites – beware the directories – there are gazillions of websites that simply list the URL’s of other websites (rather like the Yellow pages but online). Submit a link to your site only on directories that have a good page rank, are relevant to your target audience and locality but avoid the ones that ask for payment or reciprolinks and absolutely ignore sites that simply link farms – linking in those does more damage than good.

3. List Your Business on Google My Business and Bing Local – these are really high-value citation sites, if you are not listed on Google My Business, get on it!

4. Content – make sure that the content on your website or blog is great, it should answer the questions your buyers ask when researching and evaluating a purchase. The higher quality your content is the more likely people will find it and link back to it. Link to other key players in your industry, your suppliers and sources as this gives you a reason to reach out and ask for a link and to tag them on social to encourage shares (and traffic!).

5. Widgets  – add widgets that allow visitors to easily share your content on the network of their choice.  These links are not high value from an SEO perspective but they do drive traffic (which is important for SEO).

6. Relationships – ask partners, clients and organisations you are a member of to place a link on their site back to yours but only on sites that are relevant and appropriate within your area or industry. If you are already a member of an association make sure that your listing in these directories includes a link to your website.

6. Advertising – consider advertising online: Google Ads can be a valuable way to drive traffic to your site.

7. Influencer marketing – many influencers are happy to link back to your site, although many of them will charge you for it. It’s worth considering though as this can help you in a number of ways including extending your reach to there audience.

8. Outreach – make a list of sites that have a high domain authority or page rank and reach out to them asking for a link – you can do this by email or phone. One we got recently offered us a lifetime subscription to their software which caught our eye and made their communication stand out from others.

9. Blog Comments – we had written this technique off ages ago but a recent blog post from Neil Patel has us revisiting this. If you use blog commenting though you have to think your comments through and make sure they are valuable and related to the post so that it isn’t perceived as spam and deleted.

Thanks -wink- for the great Flickr image.

Updated July 2020

How To Customize Your Facebook Page

As the Facebook population grows, more and more businesses are using Facebook Pages to promote their business in this forum and to reach out and connect with fans there.Your Facebook page may be the first contact a prospect has with you and it is important to stand out from the crowd. One way to do this is by customizing your Facebook page to include tabs that go beyond the basic “Wall” and “Info” tabs in the vanilla page set up. Once you have created these new tabs you can customize each page. Here’s how:

Customize Your Facebook Page

First thing you need to do is add the Facebook Mark Up Language to your Page. To do this, Facebook search “FBML” find the FMBL application and click to add it to your site.

Once you have added this, go to your Page and click edit. Under “Applications” you will see FBML. Click to edit to add a new tab.

The box title shows “FBML”, edit this to show the title you want to appear on the tab on your page. Click to save. The new tab will now appear on your Facebook page.

To edit and add content to the page click to edit your page again and click to edit on the pertinent FBML application you just created. Finally, add the code you want to appear on the page.

The easiest way to generate the code is to use a CMS editor. I used WordPress to generate the code for the connect tab content I created on the Out-Smarts Page.

To add images to your new tab page, upload them to WordPress and use the hyperlink functionality if you want to link the image to an external page (exactly like you would if you were uploading and linking an image to a blog post).

Once you are happy with the content, copy and paste the HTML code into your FBML window. To find this click on applications then edit as before.

Click to complete and save. Go back to your Facebook page and voila, you will have a new tab there and if you click on the tab the content you created in WordPress will appear there.