Posted by Bethany Handy ● November 7, 2014

Quick Tips for Conducting a Buyer Persona Interview

Buyer personas, or fictional portrayals of your ideal consumer, can help you better understand your target market.

Creating a buyer persona can be challenging, however, because even though the persona is fictional portrayal, it also needs to be realistic. Conducting a buyer persona interview with real customers can help you shape your personas into valuable marketing tools.interview_chairs

You may understand your ideal customer to be a "stay-at-home mom" or your "average traveling businessman," however, having discussions with actual customers can provide you with relevant information such as shopping habits or unique needs. Here are five quick tips to conducting a buyer persona interview that will glean as much worthwhile information as possible.

1. Select Interview Candidates Based On Current Buyer Personas

Conducting an interview is a great way to flesh out your buyer personas, however, you need a buyer persona to select great interview candidates. It's a continuing process, and this is why buyer personas are never really "finished." Constantly tailoring your buyer personas to the most up-to-date market research is highly beneficial for your company.

Use your current buyer personas to find interview candidates that match as many points on the persona as possible. Schedule several people for interviews in case some of them are unable to make it.

2. Thank Your Candidates For Their Time

When you are conducting the actual interview, whether it is on the phone or face-to-face, avoid launching into questions right off the bat. First, thank the customer for their time, and reassure them that you're not attempting to sell them anything. Let them know that their information is confidential, and will be used for marketing research purposes only. Reassure them that they are not signing up for mailing lists, and their information will not be solicited in any way.

3. Ask Open-ended Questions

Questions that elicit only a "yes" or "no" answer are not going to be as valuable to you as open-ended questions that provide the customer an opportunity to answer in their own words. Ask questions that give you information about how they learned about your business, why they chose to purchase from you or not purchase from you, what chalenges are the facing, or what a typical day in their life looks like.

4. Let Them Weigh In On What You Can Do Better

Asking a customer what they think your company could do better can be a challenge, because not everyone will offer constructive feedback. Some customer may flat out tell you what they think you've done wrong, and this can be hard to hear. However, this information is just as valuable as the positive aspects of your business and what attracted them to your company in the first place. Listen to what your customers are saying your company can do better, and make an effort to actually implement good ideas where they are applicable.

5. Give a Thank You Gift

Show your customers that their time and the market research they've provided to you is valuable by giving them a small token of appreciation. A gift card or a bag can go a long way into making a customer feel appreciated, and encouraging them to continue to do business with you. It will also help your business with positive word-of-mouth advertising, which is a very powerful tool for bringing new customers in the door.

Conducting a buyer persona interview for the first time can be nerve wracking, but by following these five simple tips, you'll get the hang of it and feel more comfortable eliciting the information your business needs from potential customers. Buyer personas are an integral part of the marketer's tool belt and should be updated frequently to reflect the most current buying trends.

Ready to prepare for your buyer persona interviews?
Download our free eBook "101 Buyer Persona Questions"

101 Buyer Personas