By Ryan Malone

buyer personas interview2
If you've completed your sales and marketing kickoff meeting, the next step in buyer persona development is interviewing customers. In most cases, you'll have at least a few common customer types who typically make purchases. Each of them is different and it's important to understand what makes all of them tick.
 
Developing buyer personas is not as simple as asking a few customers to complete a simple survey. An in-person interview (or one over the phone) with in-depth questions that build upon each other will give you the clearest picture of each persona. Here's how to master the art of the persona interview: 
 

1. Identify customers to interview

Your sales team may be able to help you select a few candidates from each buyer persona group. Don't focus on just one persona; you want the full spectrum of customer types to best optimize your inbound marketing strategy.
 

2. Ask customers to participate

Many customers actually like to give feedback, especially if they feel particularly loyal to your company. However, you are asking them to take time out of their day, so consider compensating them in some way.

3. Prepare your interviewees

Set a realistic expectation for how long the interview will take, explain why you are doing it, and make sure they have everything they need to be comfortable.

4. Conduct the interview

Be prepared with questions, but also allow yourself the freedom to explore new paths as the customers share their stories. It is most important to be open-minded; you might not get the answers you expect. Use open-ended questions so customers have the opportunity to elaborate on their experiences. 
 
After the kickoff meeting and customer interviews, you'll be ready to create persona profiles for use in all of your marketing endeavors.

Buyer persona development may seem overwhelming, but it is worth the effort to truly understand your target audience. If you don't know what prompts them to make a purchase, you won't know how to focus your marketing efforts most effectively. 

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Ryan Malone

About the author

Ryan Malone is the founder and CEO of SmartBug Media and is a veteran of Deloitte & Touche, Seagate and several venture-backed technology companies. When he's not leading SmartBug and helping clients build high-octane marketing organizations, he's loving his wife and daughters and unsuccessfully learning the guitar. Go Terps! Read more articles by Ryan Malone.

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