How to Create a Buyer Persona: The 12 Questions You Need to Ask

Every digital marketing strategy aims to put brands before their target customer base. But one foundational question many businesses struggle with, is who exactly is their dream customer? We may think of it abstractly, but do we take the time to understand who they are, where they search, what phrases they use?

We’re talking about the ‘buyer persona.’

Put yourself in their shoes by identifying the different buyer personas that make up your target customers, starting by asking yourself these twelve buyer persona questions:

Demographic Questions: How Does Your Persona Live?

#1. Who is our ideal customer? This may sound basic, but before you get into the nitty gritty of your marketing efforts, you need to think broadly as to who you want as a customer. The exact person may differ depending on the type of business you’re in. 

A B2C coffee retailer’s ideal customer is a coffee consumer, in general. If the B2C coffee retailer is limited in locations, the ideal customer would be a coffee consumer who lives within a certain radius. 

However, if you sell hospital-grade medical equipment, your ideal customer isn’t someone who needs a CAT scan, but rather a hospital purchasing agent who has the budget and approval to make major purchases. 

#2. What’s their demographic? → Demographic questions tackle the foundations of who your buyer persona is. Think like someone who works for the census- male or female, age, marital status, children, annual household income, place of residence, educational background, etc. 

This information will be the building blocks to guide the rest of your questions. 

#3. What’s a typical day look like? Okay, you don’t need to know which pants leg your buyer persona puts on first, but a general timeline of a typical day in the life of your buyer persona will put you in their shoes better than just asking black-and-white questions. 

  • Are they remote, working from home or a coffee shop during the 9-5 window?
  • Do they wake up early to take the train from the suburbs to the city, or leave at five on the dot to pick up the kids from soccer in a 2009 Honda Accord? 
  • Do they dress business casual for the office, or do they come in wearing gym clothes so that they can squeeze in a run over lunch? 
  • Do they have work-from-home Fridays? Weekly happy hour plans with friends or colleagues? 
  • What are their weekend plans? 

It seems trivial, but mapping out this typical day is a) helpful for figuring out what makes your buyer persona tick, and b) kind of fun, actually.

Professional Questions: What Does Your Persona Do?

#4. What’s their job? While it’s obviously important to know what your buyer persona does for a little, knowing a little bit about their job and their seniority can also give insight into how well they know your industry, how much authority they have in their company’s decision-making, their management style, and what pain points they have that your company can address, among other things. 

#5. How do they stay current on their industry’s news? This can be blogs or publications they read, influencers they follow on Twitter, professional groups they belong to, or websites they check once a week. 

#6. What tools do they currently use in their job? Think of these tools in conjunction with your product or service- are they complementary, or do they work to achieve different things? Would your product or service be replacing a tool they already use, and if so, what makes yours the better choice? 

#7. What are their goals? What are they responsible for achieving within their company? How do they measure success- bottom line conversion numbers, driving more traffic to the site, something else? What does it mean to be a successful [insert job title here]? Asking these questions helps you clearly identify what they value and prioritize so that you can drive those points home when selling to the real-life version of your buyer persona. 

#8. What are their pain points and challenges? Your product or service solves a problem for your customers- what is that problem specifically, and how does it disrupt their personal and/or professional lives? 

You can even get a little deep and start talking about their *feelings*- do these pain points make them feel frustrated? Overwhelmed? Stupid, even? These challenges and the resulting emotions differentiate one buyer persona from another, offering you different angles to address in your marketing efforts.

Shopping Questions: How Does Your Persona Make Purchasing Decisions?

#9. How do they find new products? Where does your ideal customer get their information? Do they research online, or ask trusted colleagues or others in the same industry for referrals? Do they prefer to complete a purchase online, or do they compare prices online before heading to an actual bricks-and-mortar store? 

For those businesses looking to inform their digital marketing strategy, the online channels your buyer persona prefers are immensely important. As a digital marketing agency, we need to understand where your target customer spends their time online and tailor a targeting strategy around those platforms and channels. While some buyer personas are on social media, others may be found in traditional search engine results pages like Google. 

#10. How do they want to interact with vendors? Whether it’s through e-mail, a telephone call, or in-person, catering your sales pitch based on how your buyer persona wants to interact will help you have a variety of resources at the ready. 

For example, if a buyer prefers to email during the sales process, you can make sure you have a few guides or whitepapers on hand to send their way, whereas a buyer who prefers to meet in person may prefer a hands-on demonstration of your product or service. 

#11. What’s stopping them from buying your product or service? Anticipate objects or concerns potential customers may have about your products or services, and prepare responses. Thinking ahead to the objections your buyer persona will have to purchasing your product or service, means you can provide them with some educational materials, case studies, or statistics to alleviate their concerns early on in the sales process.   

#12. What keywords or search terms do they use? The way people search online, down to the terms and phrases they use, are incredibly important to a successful marketing strategy. 

Dialects and word choices often reflect geographic, demographic, and socioeconomic distinctions between online users. If you understand who your buyer is, where they spend their time, and where they’re from, you can better tailor a keyword strategy in finding and targeting them online. 

For example, if you are a New Jersey-based vendor of everyday athletic shoes, and you want to create ad copy to sell your products you probably would want to refrain from using “tennis shoes” to refer to anything other than shoes designed specifically for playing tennis. Instead, you’d want to use keywords like “athletic shoes” or “sneakers” because your target audience — New Jersey shoe-wearers — only refer to your products as “sneakers” or “athletic shoes.” In the Midwest, however, the phrase “tennis shoes” would apply to the broader category.

Now, that was a very generic and high-level example, but it shows the importance of understanding your buyer at every level before making strategic marketing decisions. 

How to Find Your Company’s Buyer Personas?

Of course, you could imagine the answers to these questions in a brainstorming session with your team, but it’s also incredibly effective to actually interview the real-life version of your buyer personas

Reach out to customers who have been both satisfied and dissatisfied with your product, as well as current prospects or leads, and referrals from your network; if you’re worried about getting people to say yes to an interview, consider offering an incentive, being flexible on the time and date of an interview, and making sure they know this isn’t a sales call but research for your company. 

Once you start interviewing personas and you can start to predict their answers to certain questions, that’s probably a sign that you’ve conducted enough interviews and that you have enough information to write an accurate buyer persona.

Creating Your Buyer Persona

Finally, even though this sounds kind of cheesy, name your buyer persona and find a stock photo image that fits what they look like. It’ll help you remember that these are real people you’re reaching out to, not just two-dimensional, hypothetical characters. Creating a buyer persona may seem unnecessary or like a waste of time, but it actually helps you become more thoughtful about how you approach your leads and teaches you to empathize with your potential client

Read more from our blog