Guest Jim Kraus is the President of the Buyer Persona Institute. In this episode, Jim explains the concept of Buyer Personas and unpacks the significance of buying insights for high-consideration purchase decisions. Jim walks listeners through the qualitative research process originated by the Buyer Persona Institute, known as the Five Rings of Insight, and describes case studies illustrating how profiles and Buyer Personas can make B2C and B2B marketing more effective.
Adrian Tennant: Coming up in this episode of IN CLEAR FOCUS,
Jim Kraus: A lot of times when you say Buyer Personas, people associate them with fictional avatars of an individual or a role that’s involved in the decision process. And those are fine. A Buyer Persona to us is really developing deep buying insights about a particular buying decision.
Adrian Tennant: You’re listening to IN CLEAR FOCUS, fresh perspectives on marketing and advertising produced weekly by Bigeye, a strategy-led, full-service creative agency growing brands for clients globally. Hello, I’m your host, Adrian Tennant, Chief Strategy Officer. Thank you for joining us. Consumers and business-to-business buyers often conduct extensive research before making a purchase decision, especially for high-consideration items. The internet enables all buyers to compare options, read reviews, and seek recommendations. While B2B buying is often characterized as being rational and ROI-focused, the truth is that B2B buyers and consumers are influenced by emotional factors such as trust in the brand and perceived value. Unlike relatively linear paths to purchase for consumer transactions, however, the B2B buying process is more formal and often requires a series of approvals, RFPs, and contractual agreements. Research published by Gartner found that the typical buying group for a complex business-to-business solution involves six to ten decision-makers on average, and more than three-quarters of the customers Gartner surveyed described these B2B purchases as very complex or difficult. So, whether targeting consumers or business buyers, it makes sense to understand the rational and emotional factors influencing purchase decisions. Our guest today is an expert on this topic. Jim Kraus is president of the Buyer Persona Institute, developers of the framework that is the industry standard for understanding consumers and business-to-business buyers of medium to high-consideration products, services, and solutions. Jim has over three decades of professional experience in market research and intelligence at organizations including Prudential and IBM. Jim is also Vice President and Principal of KS&R, a leading market research firm based out of the US. Jim is currently collaborating on a new edition of the book, “Buyer Personas,” with the institute’s founder, Adele Revella. To discuss how Buyer Personas can transform the way companies approach markets and contribute to more effective marketing, Jim is joining us today from his home base of Chatham, New Jersey. Jim, welcome to IN CLEAR FOCUS.
Jim Kraus: Thanks, Adrian. Happy to be here.
Adrian Tennant: Jim, could you start by telling us a bit about your career in market research and how it led you to Buyer Personas?
Jim Kraus: Sure. So, I’ve been doing market research, both consumer and business-to-business research, for several decades. I won’t confess how many, but it’s kind of a passion of mine really to understand markets, to understand customers, and understand buyers, and what really makes them tick. And one of the things that led me to Buyer Personas over the last couple of years is really a desire to focus on research that has a profound impact on helping marketers better influence their prospective buyers. So this is just a natural fit in terms of where my interests are, and was really looking for a methodology and the ability to operationalize that methodology to really deliver those types of insights. So that’s what led me here.
Adrian Tennant: How did the opportunity to lead the Buyer Persona Institute come about?
Jim Kraus: I’m a principal with KS&R, which is a full-service market research firm. And I had crossed paths with Adele Revella, who is the founder of Buyer Persona Institute, about 15 years ago. She and I had crossed paths on a number of occasions, working with different organizations around research, buying insights, and capacity, and it turns out that a couple of years ago, she was looking to retire. She and I got to talking. We’d always gotten along. We see the world very similarly from a buying insight perspective and what marketers really need. One thing led to another, and KS&R ended up acquiring Buyer Persona Institute early in 2022. and I’ve been leading us since then.
Adrian Tennant: Jim, what are Buyer Personas, and why do marketers need them?
Jim Kraus: Yeah, so seems like a simple question, but it’s actually a big question. So, let me answer it a few different ways or break it into parts. I mean, one of the things that we focus on is Buyer Personas, as they relate to what I’ll call high-consideration buying decisions. And a high-consideration buying decision is simply a decision that is one where you’re probably going to have multiple decision influencers involved in it, whether it’s a consumer or a business decision. There’s probably going to be some risk associated with it, right? There’s a lot at stake in that buying decision. It’s going to be the type of decision where you’re going to be looking at multiple options. It’s not going to be something that you’re sole sourcing. It’s probably a buying decision you haven’t made either ever, or you haven’t made in a while, so you’re going to be a bit anxious about it, right? Because there’s going to be a lot of information coming at you, and you’re going to be trying to make heads or tails of it as a buyer, trying to figure out, “How do I even evaluate what is my best option?”, or “Who do I even consider?” So, we focus Buyer Personas on those types of buying decisions. And the reason that’s important as far as what a Buyer Persona is, is that a Buyer Persona to us is really developing deep buying insights about a particular buying decision. A lot of times when you say Buyer Personas, people associate them with fictional avatars of an individual or a role that’s involved in the decision process. And those are fine. Those give you some insights that are helpful. What we look to do is to try to develop insights about a specific buying decision an organization or a consumer is actually making because when I mentioned the high consideration buying decision, the only way to really influence a buyer in those types of decisions is to have a great deal of empathy and understanding about what it is they’re trying to achieve, what are their concerns, what are all the information sources and steps they’re taking in their process. So, for us, a Buyer Persona is deep insights about a specific buying decision.
Adrian Tennant: What distinguishes the Buyer Persona Institute’s approach to developing Buyer Personas, say, from others in the industry?
Jim Kraus: Yeah, I think two fundamental things, right? One is what I just mentioned. It’s understanding buying decisions, and we can talk a little bit more about what types of buying insights do you need for your Buyer Personas. That’s pretty important, but let me just say for now the first one is understanding the buying decision. The second, I think, the major thing is our approach to actually developing Buyer Personas. We interview recent buyers, people who have made the exact same buying decision that you’re trying to influence, no matter what kind of solution you have, right? So those are the two major things. The first thing’s important for the reasons I mentioned. The second one’s important because you’re really trying to get fact-based, objective insights. You want to eliminate all the guesswork in your marketing and sales. And the only way to do that is to talk to recent buyers because they are the experts. There’s nobody else that are the experts. They’re the ones that have just gone through that buying decision. They can tell you everything that you need to know.
Adrian Tennant: And just to clarify, by talking to buyers, you mean qualitative interviews, is that correct?
Jim Kraus: Correct. Let me just define recent buyers first and then talk about the qualitative. And you’re correct in what you said there. A recent buyer is somebody who’s made the exact same buying decision you’re trying to influence. So, it’s not your current customers, although some may be. What you’re trying to do is develop a Buyer Persona that is representative of your target market, right? You’re trying to develop something that you can look at, and you say those insights are not just reflective of our customer base, right? Who have inherent biases, good, bad, and otherwise. You want it to be reflective of deals that you’ve never seen, maybe some that you’ve participated in at once, maybe some that you’ve participated in and lost. So what we mean by recent buyers is finding buyers that have been involved in that buying decision over typically the last 12 months. So, if you’re a provider of CRM software, I’ll use that as one example, you want to go find buyers that have evaluated, gone through a buying decision, and made a purchase decision for CRM Software. And those are the folks that you want to interview. And it is a qualitative approach that we use. It’s a little different than a typical qualitative interview. Some who are involved in research may have heard the term “discussion guide” before. It’s not a rigid discussion guide where we’re asking, “Hey, we got to get through these 20 questions.” We interview as a journalist would. We’re trying to understand the buyer’s story from the moment they had an initial need, or there was a trigger for this buying decision, what was the thing that got them actually moving away from the status quo, all the way until the time they make a final decision. And we are looking for that behind-the-scenes story of everything that happened. All the key elements of that particular buying journey, if you will. So, the interviewers that we use really act like journalists. And they ask a lot of questions, they probe. It’s usually that second and third “Tell me a little more about that” that gets you the real nuggets that are useful.
Adrian Tennant: So, can you walk us through the process BPI recommends to create Buyer Personas?
Jim Kraus: So the first thing we had just talked about is doing the recent buyer interviews, finding those recent buyers. Once you do the interviews, the key thing is you want to look across the interviews that you did, that you completed, and you want to mine those interviews for five key areas of insight. Now, we call them the five rings of insight. You can call them what you’d like. It was just an easy way for us to put a name on it. What’s important is what each one is and why each one is important to marketing. So, the first area you want to identify, we call it Priority Initiatives. And these are triggers. These are literally the things that got buyers to say, “Hey, we need to do something different, right? The status quo is not working anymore.” Whatever that status quo is, it could be they’re doing nothing, they could be using something that’s not working anymore, or it’s becoming outdated, or what have you. You want to know what all those triggers are. And the reason that’s so important is that when you’re involved with these buyers as a marketer earlier on in the buying decision, when they’re first just trying to figure out “Who do I even consider?” you want to know what those things are so that you can talk to them, interact with them, give them experiences so that when they look at you, they’re like, “Hey, this company really understands me. Maybe I should give them a closer look.” Right? So, priority initiatives are triggers. Really important in the early stages of the buying decision. The second area of insight that you want to understand is what we call success factors. These are the outcomes that buyers want from their investment at the end of the day. They’re going to make a change. They’re going to buy something different. What is it that they need to be able to look at six months, a year, two years down the line and say, “Hey, we made that investment, and we achieved X, Y, Z.” You want to know what those success factors are, right? So that when you’re developing messaging, when you’re developing thought leadership, when you’re figuring out how do we structure case studies and what kind of value do customers really want to see, gosh, wouldn’t it be great to know what the success factors that they care about are? I mean, it’s just incredibly powerful. So that’s the second area. The third area we call perceived barriers. This happens to be my favorite if I had to pick a favorite. These are the fears and concerns that buyers have. So, if you’re involved in a high-consideration buying decision, I can guarantee you that buyers are going to be anxious. This is something they haven’t bought a lot, maybe they’ve never bought it. It probably is for a decent dollar amount. It doesn’t have to be, but probably is. There are downside implications if you make the wrong choice, right? So, perceived barriers are all the things that they’re concerned about. They’re the things that get certain providers eliminated from contention, So the reason it’s so important to understand those is because you don’t wanna be surprised by those. You wanna know what those are upfront so that you can proactively address them. The other beauty of understanding what those are is those are great places to differentiate yourself because when we do the interviews, we categorize these types of insights as perceived barriers, which means that providers are getting eliminated, either A, from just being considered, or B, being eliminated as buyers are winnowing down their options. So, you can look at it as a negative insight, but we kind of look at it as a really positive one, because you can spin that to your advantage. The fourth area is decision criteria. The way to think about it is, think about when you’re getting more into the middle, later stages of the buying decision. When buyers have already kind of said, “Hey, we want to do something, we have a pretty good idea, the providers really want to take a look at, now we’re really getting into the nitty-gritty.” Like, what are the actual questions that they’re starting to ask these providers as they go through the buying journey. I can guarantee you some of their questions they knew up front, some of them are going to evolve as they get smarter and they get further in. You want to know what those questions are. A lot of these end up being very technical questions. They can be questions about your industry experience, your technical capabilities, what features you have, your service and support. And these questions are all ones that you can now get yourself prepared for. Because now you know in advance. It’s like getting the answers for the test, right? You can be prepared to address all these. We usually have more decision criteria than any other area of insight because of that. The fifth and final area is Buyer’s Journey. And Buyer’s Journey is all the typical steps that someone would take in this particular buying decision. Who are the key influencers in that decision? And what are the information sources they use and trust? And this has obvious value to a marketer, right? “Where should I be? Who should I be talking to? How do I interact with them? In what forms?” right? “Where do I need to make sure that I’ve got a plan for these different things that they’re going to be doing in their buyer’s journey?” So, those five areas of insight are incredibly powerful. You can literally develop entire marketing strategies and tactics just by using those insights. They’re the foundation of the house, so to speak.
Adrian Tennant: Excellent. Well, you’ve walked us through the methodology. I’m curious about two things. First of all, what does a deliverable look like from Buyer Persona Institute?
Jim Kraus: One is the insights I just mentioned, right? So when you do the analysis and you develop insights in each one of those five areas. The second thing is buyer quotes. So one of the things that we highly recommend is when you’re developing these buying insights, you don’t just list out, “Here’s my six priority initiatives,” and “Here’s my seven success factors.” You want to include a lot of buyer quotes from the interviews that substantiate those. And the reason that’s so powerful is because, number one, it lends instant credibility to the findings. Our favorite meetings are readout meetings of Personas because regardless of who the audience is, they start paying attention very quickly because they realize that these are their prospective buyers. And you get incredible value from hearing how they think about your solution, how they talk about it, how they talk about you and your competitors. You get a lot of competitive insights as well. So the other reason it’s so important is not only the credibility but because of the reasons I just mentioned. If you’re somebody that’s really developing content, messaging, positioning, anything that is marketing communications, it gives you that really deep understanding and that empathy for the buyer. And I can guarantee you that what you actually develop is going to be different than if you just looked at the insights themselves. So those are terribly important. The third part of it, which I haven’t talked about yet, is what we call a Buyer Persona profile. And it’s kind of the cover page to the persona. What that is, it just basically says who are the decision-makers. that we identified in the interviews. What are their overall priorities? What information sources? Maybe a little bit about their education. That is a nice piece to put in front of your Buyer Persona because it just gets your audience, you know, whoever’s using this, just gets them familiar with who the buyer is, right? As an individual, as a role. And then you get into the buying insight. So those are typically the three key components of a Buyer Persona.
Adrian Tennant: In what kinds of ways do Buyer Persona Institute insights translate into actionable strategies for marketers?
Jim Kraus: There are a couple of different ways that we recommend as far as how you use these insights. Number one is, one of the really powerful things to do is look across these five areas of insight. And a typical study will have 35 to 40 insights. Put them in a spreadsheet and just do some analysis on them. Take a look at them and say, “Where are some patterns emerging here?” And I can guarantee you, you will see patterns. Oftentimes, when we do this, we’ll find anywhere from 5, 6, 7 key themes that represent “This is what really matters to buyers the most,” right? It’s the type of thing that if you’re a product marketer, those are the things you want to put on your bulletin board and keep looking at every day, right? This is what buyers really care about. So, from a practical standpoint, that’s a great way to take all these insights and really hone them down. Another great exercise to do is not just do that, but also when you identify those themes, let’s just say there’s six themes for the sake of argument here. You want to take all your capabilities as an organization, your solution, product, service, whatever it is, and your organization’s capabilities. Get a couple of people in the room that know your solution really well. If you have people who know your competitors’ capabilities really well, and just go one by one on each insight and do an objective assessment of what capabilities you have versus all these things that buyers want and need. Go one by one. And it’s a great exercise to figure out, “Where can we differentiate? Where are we on par with competition? Where are we behind?” The reason that’s really powerful is because now you don’t just know the themes. Now you’re going to know where should we focus, right? Because maybe there are three themes that we can really play well in. And we’re going to actually map capabilities, so we’ll develop proof points for all of them as well. The last thing I’ll mention is as far as how our clients and people that do these Buyer Personas, for themselves, which you can definitely do. Lots of different ways. They use them too, for messaging, of course. They use them to either write new or to update all their case studies. Aligning them to the key things that buyers want. It’s amazing how you take a fresh look at your case studies, and you’re like, “Wow, we’re talking about things that buyers don’t really care about.” Right? So we can make some adjustments on those. They use them for new thought leadership ideas. focusing on, again, going back to some of these major themes “This is what we really want to develop content on.” They use them to develop campaigns, and campaign ideation as well. We have some that use them to change taglines. We have some that use them to,Figure out some of the assets and some of the ways they want to present themselves at conferences. So, there are all kinds of creative ways you can use them. It really, for us, for our clients, it really depends on the organization and what market levers they really want to pull.
Adrian Tennant: Let’s take a short break. We’ll be right back after this message.
|Scott Smith: As the world around us is showing, it’s always hard to know what the future will bring. Susan Cox-Smith: But you can be better prepared for the uncertainties of tomorrow. Hi, I’m Susan Cox Smith. Scott Smith: And I’m Scott Smith. We’re the authors of a new book, “Future Cultures: How to Build a Future-Ready Organization Through Leadership.”Susan Cox-Smith: Our book offers proven strategies to fundamentally rewire your culture to become more fluid, agile, and prepared to handle whatever tomorrow brings. Scott Smith: From future-proofing your brand to adapting the experience of your team or workforce, “Future Cultures” includes practical design tools and foresight techniques that will bring your focus clearly into the future.Susan Cox-Smith: As an IN CLEAR FOCUS listener, you can get 25 percent off a print or electronic version of Future Cultures using the exclusive promo code BIGEYE25. This code is valid for all products and pre-orders, and when you order directly from the publisher, shipping is always free to the US and the UK. Scott Smith: To order your copy of “Future Cultures,” go to the publisher’s website at KoganPage.com. That’s Kogan with a ‘K.’ Susan Cox-Smith: Thank you. Scott Smith: Thank you.
Adrian Tennant: Welcome back. I’m talking with Jim Kraus, President of the Buyer Persona Institute. Jim, are there any differences between Buyer Personas representing consumers and those reflecting business-to-business customers?
Jim Kraus: For us, there is not, only because we focus on high-consideration buying decisions. An example of a high-consideration buying decision for a consumer might be you’re looking for the next place you’re going to a vacation resort, right? Or you’re figuring out where are we going to send our child to school? Or we’re buying an automobile, right? These are all things that are still high-consideration decisions. The Buyer Persona wouldn’t change at all. I mean, you do it the same way, get the same areas of insight, et cetera. The only difference really for us would be that some people associate Buyer Personas with consumers more as that kind of that fictional avatar where you’re just describing overall attitudes of this particular Buyer Persona. Psychographics, priorities, lifestyle, things like that. But for us, with the Buyer Personas we’re talking about, buying decision-based, there is fundamentally no difference in how you do them.
Adrian Tennant: Jim, I mentioned Gartner’s research in the introduction, which indicates that the typical buying group for a complex business-to-business solution involves six to ten decision-makers. How many Buyer Personas do you recommend in this kind of scenario?
Jim Kraus: My answer may surprise you, but much, much fewer than 10. I’ve heard 12 to 16. You know, Gartner’s study, I know, is referenced quite a bit. But the bottom line is, within the pipes of buying decisions we’re talking about, it’s likely going to be more than one, and it may be many. Here’s the beauty of it. This buyer approach to Buyer Persona – one of the great benefits of it is it’s going to simplify your marketing. It’s going to make it more powerful, and it’s going to simplify it. Why? Because once you get into a buying decision, you don’t want to have tailored marketing to every one of those influencers. In fact, Gartner has research that shows that’s going to hurt you, not help you. it makes a longer sales cycle. It makes buyers more anxious. It makes it more likely for the deal to result in a no-decision. Once you get into a buying committee where you may have an RFP and certain requirements, they’re doing meetings, etc. They’re all coalescing around that buying decision. Let’s say there are three different roles that are involved in a buying decision. Go talk to all three get all their perspectives, right? You’re focused on the buying decision. And what’s going to happen is you’re going to come out with a Buyer Persona that is super, super relevant for that buying decision, and not have to worry that, “Hey, IT thinks this way,” or “The business folks think that way.” You want to capture all of it because, at the end of the day, as a buying committee that is making this decision together, all of those things are going to be important, right? So why complicate your world? Simplify it. So that’s one of the actual benefits. So, to answer your question, we recommend one Buyer Persona per buying decision you’re trying to influence. That could be a product or service. The only thing I will add to that is I often recommend, or we’ll do for clients that want to work with us, to do a segmented study. And all we mean by that is, that the best example probably is company size, right? So let’s say you sell a solution that maybe really small companies can use and really large enterprises can use. And you say, “You know what? We just know the buying decision is going to be a bit different here. There are going to be some similarities, but some things are going to be different. We really do need to know what those are.” It doesn’t mean you need to do two Buyer Personas. Do one Buyer Persona. Just make sure you do enough interviews with the smaller companies and with the larger companies. And what you can do is when you analyze the interviews across, you can identify where there are commonalities and where their differences are. And you just point those out in the Buyer Persona. So, as an example, let’s say success factors are one of the areas of insight. If we did a segmented study, And we found seven or eight different success factors, there’s a good chance that five of them will be the same, but we may find a couple that are really pertinent for the larger guys and maybe one or two that are more pertinent for the smaller guys. Include that in your Buyer Persona and just acknowledge the fact that this is an insight that is specific to this particular enterprise-size segment. You can still have one Buyer Persona. I can promise you’re going to find more commonalities than differences most of the time, but that’s something you can definitely do and still use a simplified approach but still get the comprehensive view that you want.
Adrian Tennant: Do you have some case studies you could share that illustrate some of the benefits of following the Buyer Persona Institute’s methods?
Jim Kraus: Yeah, we do have some on our website, BuyerPersona.com.com, if anybody wants to go to those, feel free to read them. But, mostly what I can say from an overall standpoint is with the different marketing levers that people pull using these Buyer Personas, the places that we usually see the most impact on performance is more qualified leads. It’s not always more leads, it’s more qualified leads because what’s happening is, you know, ICP – Ideal Customer Profile – gets thrown around a lot. You’re going to be attracting those folks more because now, when you start interacting with them in some marketing or sales capacity, you’re going to be much more aligned to what’s really important to them and where you can compete really, really well. So what’s going to happen is not only are you going to get more leads, the leads are going to be more ones that kind of are in your wheelhouse. The other place that we see improvements is on close rates. And really, when you get into perceived barriers, all the fears and concerns buyers have, and all the decision criteria that they care about, if you really start aligning yourself to those, now you’re going to see yourself closing more business, right? Because not only are you drawing them in, they start to see you as a trusted advisor. They start to see you as somebody that really understands their requirements. So those are the two major places, and there’s lots of different ways that clients, different levers that they pull. So those case studies, if anybody wants to go look, take a look, you’ll see different ways that clients use these Personas to achieve those results.
Adrian Tennant: Jim, in your experience, what is the most underestimated aspect of Buyer Personas or potential use cases that marketers often overlook?
Jim Kraus: I think the biggest challenge that I see is really definitional, right? So Buyer Personas means something to everybody, and it means nothing, right? So the way I define the way we’re talking about Buyer Persona has a really specific meaning and real specific impact. What I would say is when somebody says Buyer Personas, don’t jump to the conclusion that they are not worthwhile. Which might be a lot of traditional history you’ve used them, or don’t jump to the conclusion that “Hey, this will give us a good idea about where we go find them,” because it has something about information sources. It says something about their overall priorities. You can do better than that because all that’s going to do is help you say, “Hey, maybe we can find them, and maybe we can talk about something that we know that they care about.” But it’s really not going to help you all that much influencing their buying decision. It’s just not. There’s just too much information coming at people too quickly. If you don’t align with buyers really quickly, you’re going to lose them, right? It’s going to be into the abyss. It’s going to be like the white noise, right? Like you want them to, when they come to you or they take a look at what you’re putting out there, you immediately connect with them. To me, it’s just expecting more from your Buyer Personas, right? If your Buyer Personas aren’t delivering this, then rethink how you’re doing them.
Adrian Tennant: Excellent advice. Well, Jim, you’re currently working with Adele Revella on a second edition of “Buyer Personas.” What new insights can readers expect, and how do these reflect changes in the market since the first edition came out in 2015?
Jim Kraus: Yeah, so we’re really excited about this second edition. It should be out mid-next year, and we’re spending more time in a couple of areas. So it’s not a wholesale rewrite, like the fundamental core of what we’re doing is still there. It’s more of we’re giving more examples and instances about why a buying decision-based Buyer Persona is so important. I think one of the things that we want to make sure is we spend enough time in the book so that light switch goes on, you go, “Oh, okay, now I get it. Now I see it. I can picture how if we do this, that will lead to that.” So we’re spending a little bit more time upfront in the book on that, which I’m really excited about. We’re spending a little more time on how do you develop Buyer Personas, best practices. So we have a lot of folks that do this themselves. We offer a master class ourselves DIY-ers. We’re spending more time to give more information to readers about how do they actually do a Buyer Persona. And then the last thing we’re doing is, we’re adding additional ways that you can leverage the insights for impact. So what I would say is, you know, it’s a great refresh of everything Adele and I have learned over the last 10 or 15 years to make this methodology even more impactful and to enable people that want to do this themselves, give them more, you know, more weapons, so to speak, to be able to do that successfully.
Adrian Tennant: And what’s on the horizon? Are there any upcoming projects or collaborations that you’re particularly excited about?
Jim Kraus: The biggest one for me, quite honestly, is we have done a ton of work over the last 10 or 15 years in the B2B tech industry, and we continue to do it. The approach that we’ve been talking about today is just perfect for that type. One of the things I’m really excited about is really getting this methodology used in other industries that could so benefit from it, and they just don’t have awareness of it yet. You know, one example of that is health care, working with medical device companies, whether it’s B2B or B2C, there’s a lot of different medical procedures, for example, that are definitely high consideration buying decisions, as far as there’s certain types of outcomes that patients want, and there’s different ways to go about that, and different providers. So that’s one thing we’re really excited about, is going into some different industries and showcasing how it can be used. We actually just finished a Buyer Persona for MRI machines a couple of months ago, and it was fantastic. We didn’t do it for a specific client, we did it on our own just to prove, to show the level of insights you can get in a healthcare environment. That’s one of the big pushes we’re going to be spending next year or two is trying to get in some other markets where these types of insights can be incredibly valuable.
Adrian Tennant: That makes a ton of sense. Jim, to what extent do you foresee the uses of artificial intelligence and machine learning influencing the ways Buyer Personas are developed and utilized by marketers?
Jim Kraus: We’re doing some experiments right now with artificial intelligence. The jury’s still out on them as far as how they can be used to enhance Buyer Personas. And again, the Buyer Personas, as we’ve been talking about today with the buying decision and the five areas of insight. Right now, where we’re netting out is they can definitely help supplement some of that. They do not take the place of talking to recent buyers. First of all, AI applications aren’t sourced, so you don’t even know where the data is really coming from. That presents a challenge when you’re trying to present something to your internal stakeholders that is credible, versus actually talking to buyers where there’s no argument there. The other thing we’re finding is the insights are really scarce. They’re really high level or surfacy, or they’re everything in the kitchen sink. Where we’ll do a study, and we’ll find seven key insights for success factors, and I’ll see an AI application pump out 15 of them. And I look at it, and I’m like, “Well, I know it’s not those 15, because we just did the work to actually talk to buyers that went through this buying decision.” So, we’ll see. We’ll see how things develop over time. I think the biggest place we see near-term opportunity for AI is one is it is helping with buyer profiles. Those are the characteristics of the people involved in the buying decision. It helps supplement that, again with an asterisk being, I don’t like not being able to source stuff, that’s just a market researcher in me, but it could help supplement there. The other place that we’re more excited about AI is the ability to analyze the data. So, like when we do these interviews, let’s say we do a Buyer Persona study, and we talk to 10 to 20 buyers, we always record them, we transcribe them. We’re experimenting with ways to take those transcripts and put them into some different Gen AI tools and help analyze those results a lot more quickly and put them into the five areas of insight. So I see that as being from a practical standpoint, I know that Gen AI can help there. So that’s the place that we’re really excited about it.
Adrian Tennant: If IN CLEAR FOCUS listeners are interested in learning more about you, KS&R, and Buyer Persona Institute, what’s the best way to connect with you?
Jim Kraus: Two places. One is, I think I mentioned earlier, visit us at BuyerPersona.com. Pretty easy to remember. We have a lot of resources on there. we’re trying to put out thought leadership around buying insights in general, not just quote-unquote Personas. We also have templates there that could be useful for folks as far as what a Buyer Persona looks like. We have a master class there, where if you’re trying to learn exactly how to do that, you can take that class. So that’s a great resource to go to. The other place is if anybody wants to Link in to me, Jim Kraus on LinkedIn, we have a Buyer Persona newsletter. We’re always trying to put out content and interact with people that want to interact with us. So that’s another great place if you want to connect or follow me there.
Adrian Tennant: That’s great. Jim, thank you very much for being our guest on IN CLEAR FOCUS.
Jim Kraus: Thanks Adrian, and I enjoyed it.
Adrian Tennant: Thanks again to my guest this week, Jim Kraus, President of the Bayer Persona Institute. As always, you’ll find a full transcript of our conversation, along with links to the resources we discussed, on the Bigeye website at bigeyeagency.com. Just select podcast from the menu. Thanks for listening to IN CLEAR FOCUS, produced by Bigeye. I’ve been your host, Adrian Tennant. Until next week, goodbye.