Market Research

How to Develop Quick and Easy Buyer Personas Without the Fuss

March 26, 2014

Using an interactive workshop can be a fun and practical way to develop buyer personas for your organization. Follow this guide to set one up for your team.

Many of our portfolio companies have done work with our market insights team here at OpenView to build or update their buyer personas. In fact, we have written a buyer insights research guide that explains how they and you can go about conducting systematic, rigorous market research to uncover buyer insights and build your buyer personas.
Another item that comes up time and again is being able to successfully map the stages of the typical buyer journey, which is essential to any sales and marketing approach.

Hurdles to Developing Buyer Personas

But while many marketing teams express interest in conducting research around these two important aspects of their marketing activities, relatively few at the expansion-stage have the time or resources required to fully follow up. In addition, many companies have a small number of customers, and are wary of overburdening them with too many questions and such in-depth research.
Luckily enough, there is a very good alternative you can take advantage of in order to build buyer personas that are believable, actionable, and — most importantly — achieve complete buy-in that does not require a complex, upfront research process. We call this format a “Buyer Insights Workshop.” The main idea behind this is that the latent, second-hand knowledge that resides within each organization is often sufficiently deep and rich enough to let you build workable buyer persona definitions without having to perform in-depth primary research.

How to Develop Quick and Easy Buyer Personas Without the Fuss

The success of conducting this type of workshop is to create an interactive — and, yes, fun! — format that a) helps coax out this valuable information from each team member, and b) gets the team to organize and package the buyer personas together. Discussion should closely mirror the various dimensions of buyer insight research we describe in our eBook on the topic.
Over my next two blog posts, I will go into more details about how these workshops are conducted and how to ensure they are a success. To start, let’s consider the organizational aspects:

1) How to Format Your Workshop

This should be a scheduled, in-person meeting that is about one day long (or more depending on the complexity of your buyer personas). It should be an interactive, hands-on workshop, so that means there should be a very simple agenda, minimal usage of slide deck presentations, and liberal use of whiteboards, stickies notes, etc.

2) Who Should Attend

Anyone who interacts with customers in any capacity — as well as anyone on the senior management team — should be able to participate and contribute valuable insights. However, it may indeed be overkill to have everyone on the sales, customer support, and marketing teams in the meeting, so only a few representatives should suffice. However, keep in mind that these individuals represent a range of roles within the organization, and try to encourage a diversity of views.
Moreover, everyone should leave their title and leadership privilege/imperative at the door, so that diversity of thoughts is encouraged and everyone’s ideas are equally weighted.

3) What You Should Include in Your Agenda

As stressed above, the workshop should have a loose agenda and emphasize interactive content. An example of a basic agenda is outline below:

  • Setting up the context of the meeting
  • Setting objectives for meeting and ensuring that all participants agree to the method and expected outcome of the meeting
  • Guided discussions on the key elements of buyer insights research:
  • Organizing inputs and recasting the outputs in a consistent, integrated whole
  • Getting attendees to commit to their outputs

Next, I will provide more tips on how you can effectively utilize a “Buyer Insights Workshop” to develop your own buyer personas and determine how best to put them to use. Click here to read the article.

Chief Business Officer at UserTesting

Tien Anh joined UserTesting in 2015 after extensive financial and strategic experiences at OpenView, where he was an investor and advisor to a global portfolio of fast-growing enterprise SaaS companies. Until 2021, he led the Finance, IT, and Business Intelligence team as CFO of UserTesting. He currently leads initiatives for long term growth investments as Chief Business Officer at UserTesting.