Creating a target persona is a great way to get into the mind of your target client or customer, but coming up with the best questions to gather info is tricky. Every industry is a little different, with consumers having different wants and needs – so it makes sense that there’s no one universal list of questions to make the perfect persona survey.
But whether you’re selling a product or service, every good target persona survey should cover the following criteria: your client/customers’ needs, goals, values, limits, and even the challenges they face. Marketers who keep these elements top of mind when crafting surveys are going to have a much easier time constructing a profile.
The secret to making a good persona survey goes deeper than the previously mentioned 5-point criteria. Like anything that stands tall, it requires a good foundation.
This article takes a unique approach to the profile-building process; you’ll be encouraged to take a step back and consider the questions you should be asking yourself, not just your customers. This will help you come up with survey questions that yield better, more-relevant responses in the end.
How to Settle on the Right Target Persona Questions
The goal here is to first think of your brand, product, or positioning. The questions you’ll find in any sample survey can usually be traced back to a few root questions – those are the questions we’ll be focusing on in this article.
1. How is the Client/Customer Going to Find You?
This is a very important question to consider because it sets up your first impression and helps determine your approach. The 3 most common ways that someone is introduced to a brand or product are a Google Search, Referral, or Ad/Sales Rep.
Adding a “How did you first hear about us?” question in your survey is valuable because it’s very telling of your position, and sheds insight on where you should be focusing your efforts. Your survey choices should include:
Google Search: If most of your responses say that people who bought your product first found you through Google, it usually means one of two things. It could mean that the prospect is well-researched. You were among the top-ranked results alongside competitors and were chosen after a period of research + consultations. Alternatively, your product could have been ranked high with good reviews – which is enough for some people to justify moving forward.
Referral: If the majority of your responses say that your clients/customers were referred to by a colleague, friend, or family, it means that someone was satisfied or impressed with the product/service enough to recommend you to someone else. Your team did a good job, you left a great impression, or the results spoke for themselves – in any case, it’s all valuable data. Many times people won’t compare other brands when someone they trust recommends a product or service to them.
Ad/Sales Rep: Advertisements and sales representatives can draw in a lot of business. You’re likely to find that first impressions mattered the most to these responders, especially if first contact was unsolicited, or the ad interrupted a video or article.
2. What Sort of Competition Do You Have?
Are you local? Do you operate across multiple states? How many other businesses/companies offer similar products and solutions?
If you’ve got competition, chances are that prospects are going to find them right alongside you. Without asking, it’s impossible to tell how many of your clients/customers weighed their options. That’s why including a “Did you consider other options before choosing to go with us?” or “Prior to choosing us, did you use [something else]?”
This data is valuable for multiple reasons. The first question indicates that your customer was someone who does their research, and with that in mind chose you over your competitors. The reason being can easily be its own question:
“What made you choose us over other options?”
A.) The product/service fits our exact needs.
B.) The product/service fits our budget.
C.) The company left a good impression.
The latter question is good because responders will share products or services they used in the past that, for reasons that could be its own question again, they are no longer satisfied with. Their responses could point the finger at a known competitor or bring an unknown competitor to your attention. Both outcomes are good to know. Following up with a “Why?” will help fill in the blanks and highlight a winning feature of the product/service.
3. What is Your Sales Process Like?
What is the decision-making process like? How long does it take to make a sale or close a deal from start to finish? Who/How many people are involved? This can vary whether you’re selling a single product vs a service or subscription, but they’re all good things to note.
Including a question like “Who was involved in the decision-making process?” is a great way to see if there’s a pattern of managers, VPs, or even C-level executives that you should prioritize reaching out to in the future. “Who was involved during the research stage?” is also a smart approach for similar reasons; these will be the people who will be searching for you on Google, taking notes on your website, and comparing you to competitors.
4. How Much is Your Product/Service Compared to Competitors?
This is an important detail to keep in mind because the price is a dealbreaker for a lot of people, especially when comparing products that are similar. To find out whether this is a pain point for prospects, you can include a question like “What were your biggest deciding factors when choosing us?” and have them pick any options that apply. This can help determine if the majority of your responders preferred quality > pricing, or cared more about any features that were unique to your brand.
5. How Many Industries Do You Serve?
Does your product/service cater to multiple industries?
If so, this is the perfect opportunity to gather data from responders and confirm which industries make up most of your sales. Including a question like “Which of the following best describes your company?” and providing a list of options is all you need.
Knowing which industries you’re strongest in and weakest in is valuable information – both for making a target persona and in general.
Target Persona Best Practices
Keep these five questions in mind when building your next target persona survey. Awareness is important; knowing how prospects are finding you and how you rank amongst the competition. Just as important is reflecting on the length of your sales process, and the first impressions that prospects have about your product. Additionally, if you serve a variety of industries, it's handy to know which industries are your champions; that's where you're strongest, and that's where you'll have the most experience and agency.