Questions to ask when seeking persona development help

Alan Belniakbusiness, Marketing4 Comments

Vencian masks - persona is Latin for mask

The etymology of the word ‘persona‘ is Latin, for ‘mask’.  That’s fitting, because in the marketing world we’re trying to both figure out who is under the real mask of that customer we’re trying to reach, as well as create a fictitious mask to help us ‘market to’ someone, to hone our message and offering.


Developing personas for your customers is critical and time-intensive, but yields great results.  This can be done inside an organization that is skilled up with great UX people and veteran marketers.  Sometimes, though, you might not have access to those resources.  You may need to turn to the outside to get some assistance.  I was thinking about this a few weeks back as I left the MarketingProfs B2B event.  I started to mentally jot down allthe questions I think I’d ask a potential vendor or partner in undertaking this.  I also did some Internet searching, and failed to track my notes.  So, some of what’s here may be a variation of what I found elsewhere (if it’s yours, please message me or note it in the commnets; I’ll then make an edit and give you credit).

At any rate, if you are setting out to select a vendor or assistance toward creating or refining personas, here are some questions you should ask.


  1. How would you describe the difference between a customer profile and a persona?
  2. What’s your framework for persona development?
  3. What’s the optimum number of personas?
  4. Can you share a sample of a buyer persona you’ve developed (for a non-competing company) to give us a sense of the output?
  5. How many customers do you interview?
  6. What if we have trouble getting access to customers?
  7. Can we leverage our customer community at all?
  8. How long are the interviews?
  9. How do you distill the information gathered from the interviews?
  10. What kinds of questions do you ask?
  11. Which dimensions do you profile against? (e.g., gender, age, title, rank, …)
  12. What amount of work do you do, vs. what’s expected/required from us?
  13. How long does this take?
  14. Who are some of your clients, specifically for persona work?


image source: Venecian Masks by ChaTo (CC by 2.0)


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