I was recently reading Joe Pulizzi’s book Epic Content Marketing: How to Tell a Different Story, Break through the Clutter, and Win More Customers by Marketing Less, and loved the opening line to Chapter 10, which is all about buyer personas. It stated: Repeat this sentence: I am not the target for my content.
Those are some pretty powerful words, and completely warranted. I cannot tell you how many times marketers develop B2B buyer personas based upon what they think their customer values, versus what their customer tells them they value.
Now that is not to say that there isn’t a place for suppositions. Anyone who is in the business sees patterns related to what their customers frequently ask, issues their customers frequently have, etc. And this information is valuable. But it doesn’t answer the question “Why?” or allow for the unearthing of any additional golden nuggets that can only come from speaking with one’s customers.
And don’t let what you “know” about your customer influence those persona interviews either. Primary research is truly a science, and is not something to take lightly. You have to ask questions that are both unearthing AND non-leading.
This part of the process can be quite difficult, because with non-leading questions you may become hesitant that you discover so many different factors it’s difficult to generalize. But don’t worry – as different and distinct as well all like to think we are, 95% of us falls within two standard deviations from the mean. In other words, you will find patterns.
So remember – interviewing your customers is integral to the B2B buyer persona process, and you have to ask questions that are non-leading so you can really get to what matters and motivates them. In the YOU VERSUS THEM buyer persona process, they win.