If marketers cling too tightly to old methods of creating buyer personas, they are wasting time and resources with ill-informed representations. A brand should channel its energy into collecting as much information as possible about its target audience to create hyper-specific content with a greater impact. As technology evolves, brands have the opportunity to move buyer personas from a hypothetical world into a concrete marketing method.
The most important part of creating buyer personas is specificity. It’s not enough to occasionally check with your sales team about recurring questions buyers are asking. Gathering information directly from your audience is a necessary step in creating buyer personas and, ultimately, better content for your brand.
If you omit this part of the process, you sacrifice your ability to genuinely address the needs of your buyers. For peak marketing efficiency, you should always interview your clientele directly.
At first glance, the practice of interviewing customers may seem like an inefficient option compared to a survey sent out in a large email blast. However, direct customer interviews can help you garner insight into your customers’ emotions that can change entire campaigns.
Try the following methods for more impactful customer interviews and thus, high-quality content that meets your customer’s needs:
1. Establish Empathy
In order to make sure your client feels comfortable sharing their honest opinions with you, it’s important to show they’re speaking with a human being. If you have the interviewee’s personal information handy, it can be helpful to ask a few ice-breaker questions before hopping into the real list of inquiries.
2. Start with Simplicity
Toss a few softball questions to the customer to begin. It will be easier on you both if you start with a few simple, fact-based questions. Start in on the more difficult questions once you’re both warmed up. This will also build a bond that enables the customer to give critiques later on.
3. Match and Mirror
Another method of making the people you’re interviewing feel more comfortable is to use similar vocal patterns and energy as them. This gives an air of familiarity and subconsciously makes the interviewee feel more at home. Be sure that you don’t end up fully mimicking them, though!
4. Practice Active Listening
Listening involves more than just sitting silently. The person you’re interviewing will be looking for cues that you’re still engaged in the conversation. A few affirming “uh huhs” or repeating the last few words they’ve said can confirm that you’re present and interested in their opinion. Active listening should be practiced both professionally and personally to strengthen relationships.
5. Avoid Bias
To get fully honest feedback from your customers, it is critical to influence their opinions as little as possible. You’ll want to avoid leading questions that pigeonhole or limit a customer’s response. It’s also important to not react in telling ways. If you make a disapproving noise at something a customer says, your more people-pleasing clientele might edit their answers to please you.
6. Request Specifics
Don’t be afraid to ask a customer to specify or go deeper into their answers. Many times a person just needs a small prompt to give you deeper insight. This may lead to moments of silence on the phone, and that’s okay! Don’t feel pressured to fill every moment of silence during an interview. Your interviewee may just need a moment to gather their thoughts.
Interviewing customers about their buyer journey and their specific needs helps create more genuine buyer personas. While interviews shouldn’t be used as a replacement for surveys and other quantitative data, the information you gather will give you a more thorough understanding of your product and the way the world interacts with it. Once you’ve cemented the practice of customer interviews, you’ll have a more successful and genuinely helpful brand.
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