When we work with clients on persona initiatives, we’re often asked where to get information about a particular persona. SiriusDecisions’ buyer persona definition comprises a dozen attributes covering functional responsibilities, initiatives and challenges, buying behaviors, and communication preferences. The long list of research questions that we’ve developed to cover these attributes can seem daunting, but organizations can uncover knowledge about the target persona through a variety of sources.

For portfolio marketers leading persona initiatives, the persona development process is iterative and includes multiple internal and external data sources. The best way to gather the knowledge is to interview people in the persona job role. Ask sales for introductions to customers and prospects for one-on-one interviews, and identify additional interview candidates through online communities and professional networks. Other best practices for sourcing persona knowledge include surveys, Web behavioral studies, search analytics and social monitoring.

Gathering persona information via internal tribal knowledge is another way to formulate assumptions. Chances are, your company is already doing business with the target personas, but the persona knowledge may be undocumented, residing with various groups or individuals across the company. Customer-facing functions such as sales, service, and support gain plenty of information about the persona through their regular customer and sales interactions. Executives, product teams, and other subject matter experts can also contribute to persona knowledge.

After gathering tribal knowledge, test these internal assumptions with actual persona interviews and other research. Investing in market research helps ensure that persona knowledge is data-driven, current and can be used to create audience-centric messaging, content and campaigns.

Want more insight on B2B persona best practices? For our SiriusDecisions clients please contact your account executive. If you’re not a client, contact us for more details.