5 Question Categories to ask Customers when Building Buyer Personas

Posted by Jason Johnson on May 14, 2019 8:00:00 AM
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When creating your marketing messaging, it's kind of important you know who you're talking to. And by kind of we mean a whole helluva lot. The best way to do this is by creating a buyer persona. A buyer persona is the creation of a fictional buyer who fits the profile of your customers. This is more than just assuming general attributes, you are essentially writing up your own character based on the data you have. 

Understanding the importance of Buyer Personas

Without a buyer persona, you have no idea who you're talking to or what sort of communication is appropriate. As we've said in the past, you wouldn't talk to your sweet old Nana the same way you would your weekend rabble rousing buddies (at least, we hope not). To make sure you're delivering the right content in the right way, you've got to have your buyer persona's figured out. But how do you do that? It starts by interviewing past or current customers to see what patterns you can find in their overall profile. That's why today we're looking at the 5 Question Categories to ask Customers when Building Buyer Personas.


1. Buyer Persona Background

It's true in life that you can't know a person until you know where they came from. The same is true for your buyer persona. As you're building your buyer's profile, their background will play a major role in understanding who they are and why they do what they do. When interviewing your customers in regard to this category, you'll want to ask questions that center around not just their professional but their personal background. While a buyer's proximity to you may be business-oriented, their personal background has a major influence on the things they value, how they make decisions, what motivates them, and more. Your background questions will include queries like:

  • Where did you go to school?
  • What is your highest level of education?
  • What did you study?
  • Describe your career journey.


2. Buyer Persona Demographics

A person's demographics will tell you more about who they are personally rather than professionally. Demographics play a huge role in how you'll speak to your potential buyer, so it's important to collect as much information as possible about them. Demographics will begin to reveal the more well-rounded picture of who your buyer is as an individual, rather than just a cardboard cutout caricature. Some questions to consider when uncovering demographics are:

  • Male or Female?
  • Are you married?
  • Do you have children?
  • Where do you live? 
  • How old are you?
  • Are you religiously affiliated?
  • What is your annual household income?


3. Buyer Persona Attributes

Buyer persona attributes are just that, traits of a person's personality that tell you more about who they are on a personality level. This too helps you know how to communicate with them. Someone who identifies as a bold, direct leader may not appreciate a vague sales approach that comes right out and says it. Or perhaps your prospect is more introverted and information driven. You can know that they'll appreciate a detailed email more than they will a chatty phone call. When determining buyer persona attributes, ask questions like:

  • Are you introverted or extroverted?
  • In a meeting, are you leading or listening?
  • Are you more of a social butterfly or a homebody?
  • Which social media platforms do you prefer?
  • Favorite blogs and news source?


4. Buyer Persona Goals

When it comes to your buyer's goals, you'll want to dig into the layers that make up their overall objectives. Be sure to position these questions in a way that get you a fully fleshed out answer as opposed to something that doesn't lend much insight such as, "get a raise." Does that mean they want to be promoted? Does that mean they are working on a major project that might propel them forward? Breaking down their goals into more primary and secondary focuses will help you dig deeper into what is motivating your potential buyer. Ask questions like:

  • What are you responsible for at work?
  • Are you an influencer or a decision maker?
  • What is one primary goal you have for the year?
  • What does it mean to be successful in your role?
  • What are a few secondary goals you wish to achieve along the way?


5. Buyer Persona Challenges

Uncovering your buyer's challenges will help you get a firmer grasp on their goals as a whole as well as their day-to-day obstacles. Knowing these challenges will allow you to speak directly to their pain points when crafting your content. Let's say you're offering software services to your potential buyer. Without a buyer persona, you assume their challenges similar to yours, that you're busy and need a software that will automate actions for you and take one more thing off your plate. But what if that isn't your potential buyer's biggest pain point? What if they have the time but not the technical knowledge? Their biggest challenge may be finding a software that's simple enough for them to manage on their own. Ask the following questions to uncover their personal challenges:

  • What are the primary challenges standing between you and your goal?
  • What are some secondary challenges you will face along the way?
  • If you had three wishes at work, you would wish that...
  • What are some adjustments you would make at work to get closer to your goal?


Once you've interviewed a handful of customers, review your data and begin to look for patterns and similarities. You may find that you have one or more buyer personas waiting to be uncovered. Once you gathered and organize your data, it's time to begin building your buyer personas. This will be an actual profile. For example, as a software sales rep, your buyer persona may look like the following:




Graduated with a BA from Louisiana State University in Marketing, continued to get her MA from the University of Maryland.

Has worked for a small engineering firm for the past 10 years. Began as a Content Marketer and has since been promoted to a Marketing Manager position. 


A 32 year old female, she is married with a one year old girl. She and her husband have a combined income over $150,000 a year and live in Bethesda, Maryland. 


She has a social personality and tends to be chatty and extroverted. She doesn't usually plan to lead meetings but ends up being put in charge more often than not.  She is most active on Instagram and Facebook, and gets her news from Twitter, Yahoo and The Skimm.


Katherine would like to be considered for a VP position that is opening up. To do so, she wants to increase ROI by 25% for their current campaigns over the next year, and decrease inner office turnover. She is currently a decision maker within the marketing vertical, but only an influencer to the executive team for sales and marketing.


Having enough hands on deck to execute goals and handle the workload necessary for campaigns to thrive. Looking for a solution that would handle tasks through automation so her team is free to focus on important issues without getting buried and burnt out. 


See if that takes your messaging to the next level? Having a completely fleshed out buyer persona illuminates the path to the right messaging and positioning your team needs to be tapping into. Instead of speaking to general assumptions, you have pull right at the heartstrings and desires of those your interacting with, so that by the time they come to buy, they are thanking you, and not the other way around. 

Have questions about creating your buyer personas? Ask us in the comments, we'd love to help!


If you enjoyed this article, you might enjoy these other, related blogs: 


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Topics: Marketing Strategy, Brand Growth, product marketing, Brand Evangelism, Marketing Methodology, Strategic Growth, Target Marketing, S.M.A.R.T. Goals

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