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It’s critical that small business marketing managers learn to implement the critical components of buyer personas into their inbound marketing strategy.  Why you ask? Because it’s important for your marketing staff to know to who they are targeting, and for your sales people to know to the type of customers their trying to sell to.

You may have decided to give developing persona’s a crack but find yourself drawing a big blank, trying to figure out where in the world you should start.

Before you head out and spend some of your hard earned cash to try and define persona’s, first try asking yourself these questions about the business owners, managers, consumers, etc you’re targeting.  Don’t be concerned if you can’t answer all of the questions now (you’ll do more research later!), just try and arm yourself with the answers to the following questions, and you’ll be equipped an excellent guide that you can reliably base both your offline, and your online sales & marketing strategies on.

Questions Small Business Marketers Should Ask When Developing Personas

1.) The demographic information?

I always recommend small business owners start here because it’s the easiest information to collect.  Because demographic data is often collected in the small business inbound marketing buyer personacourse of initial client interviews you’ll likely have some idea of your existing clients demographic make-up.

Some of the things you want to know are:

  • Martial status
  • Annual business (for b2b) or household income (for b2c)
  • Gender (male or female?)
  • How old are they?
  • Do they have children?

You can see that once you begin to collect this type of information it will help you paint a more clear and well defined picture of just who your customer is.

2.) What’s their title and seniority level?

The weight to which you assign your buyer persona’s job title, and their seniority depends a great deal on whether or not you’re marketing a b2b or a b2c product or service.

If you’re a b2c just consider this information another step towards deeply understanding your customer base.  Once you begin to look at the data you’ll likely notice trends like large portions of your customer base trending in a specific industry or trade.  Or, you may notice a large population of your client database rose to a certain level in the workplace.

Title and seniority level are more critical for b2b marketers to grasp and understand.  Some things you’ll want to know are.

  • Your persona’s organizational level (manager, or director?)
  • Their educational level (HS, College, MBA, etc)
  • What’s their educational level regarding the nuances of your product or service.

I learned early on in my sales carrier that working with people on various levels each comes with a different set of challenges.  For example C-level executives are usually willing to devote much less of their attention to the details of an offering, but are more interested in the dollars and cent’s (how will your solution either make their organization money or save it money).

Small businesses willing to invest the time to dig deep into their persona’s careers will be able to craft more effective marketing communications from both the perspective of marketing and sales.

3.) What does a day in their life look like?

Now that you know a little bit more about your persona’s personal and career characteristics, it’s time to consider what a typical day in their life might look like.  Things to consider.

  • How much time do they spend at home?
  • How much time do they spend at work?
  • Are they spending to much time at work or home?
  • Who matters most to them?
  • Do they have any hobbies?
  • What type of TV shows do they enjoy?
  • What magazines do they read?

Complete these questions and any others that you think fit under this category.  Once you do so you’ll have a pretty good idea about what makes your persona tick.  Now it’s time to put a face to your persona.  Browse through some stock imagery on the Internet for an actual picture to associate with your persona.  This forces you and your organization to form a clear image of your target buyer, and will help you keep your sales and marketing messages on point.

4.) What causes them pain?

Never forget that you’re in business to solve a problem your target buyer is experiencing.  You need to keep top of mind how that problem/pain affect their day to day existence at work, home, or both.  Think about how this problem makes them feel, how it makes their employees or loved one’s feel.

5.) What do they value most? What are their goals?

Now that you know their pain points, invest some time in understanding what your buyer persona values, or what they don’t care about.  You want to get at what would make your buyer super excited about your offering.

6.) How and where do they consume information?

This is an important one to understand because lots of small business are trying to be everywhere at once and they can’t.  You have to gain an understanding of how your persona’s consume information, and where they go to consume it.  Some questions to ask:

Do search online for answers, or do they look for answers offline in journals or newspapers?

If online, then where are they searching? Are they looking for answers on social media sites? If so which ones? Do they read blogs? Do they search on Google or Bing?

If they’re offline leaners to whom do they go for information; peers, family,coworkers, experts, etc.?

Once you know where your personas like to look for answers to their questions you can work on gain a presence in those environments, and establishing credibility within those groups.

7.) What experience are they looking for when shopping for your products and services?

Your personas buying experience needs to line up with their expectations.  Questions you’ll want to consider.

  • Do they expect products/services to be feature rich?
  • Do they expect sales people to dress business, or business casual?
  • Would they prefer an in-person presentation, or over the phone?
  • How much industry information are they expecting to get from your marketing team, or sales people?

Every business and industry is different so the personality and needs of your buyers will determine the experience they expect to have.

8.) What objections to your buyers have most often?

Another lesson I learned early in my sales career – anticipate objections!  Organizations that anticipate the most common objections to their product or service offerings strategically positions themselves to be the business that’s most prepared to educate a consumer when facing objections.  Better yet a business can customize their online and offline marketing collateral to address these pre-determined objections.  Here are some questions to consider.

  • What might make your buyer hesitant to purchase from you or a competitor?
  • What’s causing your persona to make a switch from a current provider?
  • What’s the worse thing that could happen to them if they make a poor choice?

9.) How to keep an eye out for this persona?

Now that you’ve armed your business with what makes your buyers tick, you and your employees need to be able to recognize these persona’s and customize your conversations accordingly.  Things to look for.

  • Pay attention to job titles.
  • Pay attention to the questions they ask.
  • I like to ask ‘what keeps you up at night?’ shut up and let them answer.
  • Here’s one I learned from my good friend Don simply ask – ‘What else?’ shut up and let them answer and then ask it again at least 5 times.  Do this and you’ll get a reals sense of the persona you’re talking with.

Have you started developing buyer persona’s for your small business? How have you customized your marketing and sales communications based on your persona’s?