Now how do we do research? How do you form buyer personas? It’s a little bit of a complex process. There’s so many different sources to draw from a lot of times it can be overwhelming. Where do I want to get started? Well, you want to talk to your salespeople. Salespeople are great for buyer personas because they’re on the front lines every day; they’re communicating with potential customers. They [salespeople] know what they like…what they don’t like… so you really have to tap into their knowledge base in order to do that effectively.

This blog post is part of Your Definitive Guide to Lead Generation blog series.

I have both the positive and negative (thumbs up and thumbs down) here because it is important not only to look at the customers who have become customers successfully, but also the people who may have dropped off for whatever reason. So, when you do this analysis, you really want to talk to both sets of people. Get those salespeople and say, “Hey, do you have a list of people who didn’t buy for whatever reason?” Call those people up- maybe write them a quick email. Maybe you put together a SurveyMonkey or a questionnaire that really asks the questions and drills down to what you want to know from why they didn’t go through that buying process.

It reminds me of a particular case example. We have a client here who creates software for manufacturers. Basically, it makes your manufacturing process more efficient. One of the first things that we did when we engaged with them was start to formulate their personas. And it’s a little bit of a complex space, it was very difficult to wrap our brains around what is their persona. Who do we target?

Well one of the things that we did was we actually got in touch with people and potential customers in the past, who for whatever reason, did not convert. I was fortunate enough to be one of the people leading the calls, and actually being able to talk to some of these lost leads. And one of the biggest things that we learned was that people weren’t getting the proper education to really understand what the value offering of the software was.

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Another thing that kept coming up more often than not was videos. We know that videos are becoming very popular these days. Google is even ranking videos a little more highly. One of the reasons why we’re doing this video blog essentially altogether. So we understood that we needed to have somewhat of a video strategy, launch that, and create a way so it could be more of an educational journey, for their persona altogether.

So now we know where to get started. What are some other resources that we have at our hands to get started? Well, we can do things like look at analytics. Google Analytics and Google Search Console are great tools to really understand a consumer’s behavior and how their process is actually translating to the web. We can do things like create questionnaires and checklists like I mentioned previously, just to get in touch with lost leads or people who did become customers for whatever reason. And finally, our second brain Google is really a great resource to get started. Things like Quora, which is a great question database- you can understand some of the common questions that customers might have by tapping into that. You can look at Forrester Research, IBIS, all these more academic oriented research firms that really help you to get the data that you need in order to build that persona more effectively.

It reminds me of an anecdote. The question always comes up: “Should I use Wikipedia or should I not use Wikipedia for my research?” And Wikipedia, although it’s a great resource to get started with your research, you don’t want that to be the only resource that you use. A lot of times, what I’ll do is actually go into the individual sources that are referenced throughout a Wikipedia piece, and go down to the very bottom, and then find those resources. Then start to build upon that information. So, my schoolteacher in seventh grade that was telling me that Wikipedia isn’t a great resource to utilize, I think she’s been proven wrong over the years and I think Wikipedia is a great place to start your research.

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