EP366: Decoding Buyer Personas: Crafting Effective Buying Strategies


Table Of Contents


Navigating the Customer's Mind 

Curious about the power of buyer personas and how they can transform your business? Picture this: a world where we can understand our customers and their buying behaviors. Sounds great, right? But how? Meet Jim Kraus. 

Jim is the President of Buyer Persona Institute, a leading market research and consulting firm. With multiple decades of experience, Jim is an expert in understanding customers and their buying behaviors. In this blog, Hollywood Branded highlights the importance of understanding effective buying strategies.  

The Importance Of Integrated Sales And Marketing Strategy  (12)

A Little More About Jim 

Jim leads the development and implementation of their proprietary buyer persona framework, the 5 Rings of Buying Insight,  to help businesses optimize their marketing and sales strategies by leveraging buyer personas.

Actively engaging with his audience through his blog and newsletter, The Buyer Persona Buzz, Jim is also a sought-after podcast guest and speaker. He is currently collaborating with Adelle Revella, on the second edition of the book, Buyer Personas, to expand awareness and enhance understanding of effective buying strategies. 

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Interview Transcript Highlights

Stacy: What I always like to do is start off this podcast with, how did you get here today? I just read something that said a lot about Buyer Persona Institute and you obviously have built your entire business and strategies on the importance of this. What got you here today to make that happen?

Jim: So I've been in the market research industry for over two decades now, with a passion for really understanding consumers,  and business buyers, and developing insights that help marketing, sales, and product development really improve their performance.

So one of the nice things about where I'm at now leading the Buyer Persona Institute is that buyer personas, done a certain way, are one of the most logical, tangible ways to get buying insights that directly inform marketing and sales decisions.

There's no mystery around it, it's a fact-based approach. It literally takes all the mystery out of marketing and sales so you know exactly what you need to do to educate and influence prospective buyers.

Stacy: When you're working with a company, what's your first step? What's the first thing you do to understand if they're in the right direction with buyer personas?

Jim: When we talk to new clients who want to learn about buyer personas, the first questions are usually if they have any current personas and what those look like - to get a sense if they're focused on buyer profiles vs. buying decisions.

Once we get through that, we typically talk about what the persona is and the buying insights, if we want to do work with them, and if the first step is a kickoff or study design meeting.

There are two key things when assessing:

1: Defining the buying decision, which seems easy but it's fascinating to get product marketing and sales in a room and have everyone define the actual decision - where on the other end, we are trying to understand if there's value in that.

2: What are the target characteristics?  So you can say,  "These are the folks we want to talk to" because you build the persona by interviewing recent buyers who made that exact decision.

Those steps are critical - if you don't talk to the right people who went through the process, you won't get the insights.

Stacy: Besides not having the right insights, where do people go wrong with that first step?

Jim: Typically if they're not thinking about the buying decision, the profile piece, and the specific role.

The other is not defining the decision specifically enough - for example with CRM, if you're focused on certain aspects like marketing, you may want to understand that very specifically because that's your target market where you have the best shot at winning. Other times with CRM you may want to understand all components, depending on the objective.

Defining who you're targeting very specifically is key because again, leaving it too broad you won't get a buy-in. 

Stacy: My favorite question - where does it go wrong? What mistakes do people make?

Jim: The biggest mistake is not following this approach and finding recent buyers in your target who made that buying decision. Use a journalistic approach in your interview to get them talking - buyers love to talk about their story, and it's definitive for that buying decision.

They liked it because it was an important decision and you have trouble getting them off the phone sometimes!

Stacy: From there, what's the next step? 

Jim: Once you do the interviews, it's analyzing them. The buyer persona has 5 key areas of buying insight, each crucial:

  1. Priority Initiatives - What triggered the need to start looking for a solution?
  2. Success Factors - What are the outcomes needed from the investment?
  3. Perceived Barriers - Are their fears, concerns, and trepidations buyers they have?
  4. Decision Criteria - How they narrowed down their consideration list to make a choice.
  5. Buyer's Journey - What are the process steps, influences, and information sources?

When you deliver the insights, you don't want just the insights themselves. You want buyer quotes - captions of them talking about that trigger for example. It helps you understand buyers intimately, not just an insight. It creates incredible buy-in because now they're hearing from who they want to sell to. You can't ignore it because it's the truth.

Stacy: How can people find you if they want to reach out?

Jim: Our website is buyerpersona.com, with lots of free resources and a contact us button. We have a self-paced Master Class if you want to learn to do this yourself. There are also templates available. I'm also Jim Kraus on LinkedIn, happy to connect there as well.

Check Out The Podcast!

Understanding your customer needs and having a strategy to implement better results is crucial. If you're eager to learn more about the Buyer Persona Institute and how it can impact your business, listen to the entire episode below. 

Every week we have a marketing professional on our show to share their tips, tricks and lessons learned from their professional experience. Check out some of our other podcast blogs from earlier this year: 

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