Jim Kraus is the President of Buyer Persona Institute (BPI) and a leading authority on buyer personas and buying insights. BPI’s buyer persona research and workshop methodologies have become the gold standard for thousands of marketers in hundreds of companies worldwide that rely on these studies to reveal everything a prospective buyer needs to know and experience to have confidence in their solution. In addition to his work at BPI, Jim is an avid blogger, author of the Buyer Persona Newsletter, he’s working on a second edition of his book Buyer Personas and he’s here today to talk about the metrics behind buyer personas
Our interview began with an overview of Jim’s experience as a market researcher and how he came to focus on the niche of buyer personas.
“I’ve been a marketer researcher by training for a number of years in a variety of industries,” began Jim. “One of the things I was anxious to do was to find an area of market research that really impacted clients, and that’s how I came to focus on buyer personas. Buyer personas are interesting because you’re really trying to understand the buyer in a very deep way that has direct application to marketing and sales.”
The conversation then pivots into defining buyer personas, and differentiating between marketers just inventing sales avatars that are supposed to represent buyers, versus actually creating personas that are useful and based in fact.
“It’s important to define what buyer personas are, and what they are not,” explains Jim. “If you get the buyer persona right, it can have far-ranging implications for your company, not just in sales and marketing, but even the higher-level aspects of the entire business.”
“A lot of people think buyer personas are a fictional avatar of a particular individual that might be involved in a decision; what is their average age, education level, priorities, and challenges. That information isn’t really useful to marketing and sales. The new more modern approach to buyer personas is focusing less on the roles and individuals and more on understanding, on a deep level, the buying decision itself.”
Jim then goes on to outline the methodology behind how BPI works with clients to build their buyer personas.
“You have to consider the end-state of what you’re expecting from buyer personas. A two-tiered approach we use at BPI is first, we gather five insights around the decision in question; priority initiatives, success factors, perceived barriers, decision criteria, and mapping out the buyer’s journey. Secondly, we focus on building out profiles of the decision makers, which is like a cover sheet for the entire buyer persona.”
Jim explains that in-depth interviews with recent buyers is the most effective way to gather the necessary information to create useful, and truthful, buyer personas.
“The best way to do this is go right to the source and interview recent buyers,” says Jim. “The people that have made the same exact decision you’re trying to influence. You need to conduct in-depth interviews and approach this like a journalist. It’s about qualitative, not quantitative, research; not a rating scale or survey, but buyer information and insight that illustrates the entire narrative of the purchase.”
To hear some cinderella stories about BPI clients that have experienced success with their buyer personas, a cautionary tale about buyer personas gone wrong, and for step-by-step advice on how you can start building buyer personas for your business, listen to the full episode at the links provided above and below.