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Persona Interview

How to conduct insightful persona interviews?

Alexander Sergeev avatar
Written by Alexander Sergeev
Updated over a week ago

If you are asked to create a piece of product or marketing content, you should first recognize your target audience.

Understanding that increases the effectiveness of the content being produced. Unfortunately, many people do not care about this question at all. They think that knowing the title, industry and something about the geography of the audience is enough. No, these data are not sufficient. Instead, it's critical to understand buyer motivations, personality attributes and organizational context.

People who take the time to invest in buyer persona research get real benefits. 

Personas are fictional characters that you create based upon your research to represent the different user types that might use your product or service in a similar way.

Creating personas helps to understand users’ goals, needs, experiences, and behaviors. It also assists to recognize that different people have different needs and expectations.

There is available Persona Canvas that may help you to create connections with your customers. Here we describe in details the process of interviewing a persona.

Persona interviews can be intimidating sometimes but there are some tips to get you over the fear. Here they are:

1. Ask a variety of questions

Using different kinds of questions spurs the most insightful discussions. They can later be used to find patterns. 

Every persona interview should explore the participants’ personality attributes, organizational context, their preferences and priorities and also content interests.

2. Persona interview is not a survey

It's better to be prepared and to establish an interview guide to drive your conversation. When you are not well-practiced at persona research your interview turns into a survey. A survey is an incredibly helpful tool, however, it is an unsuitable substitute for a conversation. 

Use open-ended questions; follow an unexpected path that the research participants lead you towards. Comment their responses.

3. You are not message testing

It's important to hear what words do personas use to describe the challenges and opportunities they face. 

If you want to create a persona that can be used as a foundation for all kinds of marketing outreach it must be in large part independent of your specific offerings and company.

4. Do not rely on the usual suspects

Our instincts are to find some people who validate what we think to be true. However, human nature is also a terrible opportunity lost. Try to not limit your research with the obvious candidates.

5. Persona is not a title

We can easily identify titles, but they are misleading. Many people try to make a persona a profile and it leads to a persona becoming a search for people with similar titles. You definitely need both personas and profiles but don’t try to do both in one approach.

6. Make personas feel comfortable

Do not forget to thank them for joining your interview and remind them that this is for market research and all of their responses will be kept confidential.

7. Silence can be beneficial

Do not try to fill every pause during the conversation. This quiet will encourage the persona to dive deeper into his/her thoughts.

8. Think in advance about the documenting the information collected

For many people, the act of typing/writing allows internalizing the information as it’s being collected. 

You also can record the persona interview and have it transcribed later.

Persona interviews are time-consuming but be sure - you’ll be rewarded and will have a chance to improve engagement and be more efficient to produce. 

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Want to find out more about the creating of personas? These resources should be helpful:

Feel free to also read our articles:

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