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Listener Question: How to Develop a Persona

with Pamela Muldoon

In past episodes, we’ve discussed the importance of building a client persona to effectively market to your customers. Today we answer a listener question on how, specifically, to develop a buyer persona, as well as discuss strategies for conducting market research interviews to help capture meaningful data. Learn which questions to ask to gain important insight and target market your potential clients like a #VOBOSS!


Quick Concepts from Today’s Episode:

  1. To develop a persona, interview people in your potential client pool.

  2. Frame everything through a customer-centric viewpoint

  3. Most people love to talk about what they do, and the industry they work in.

  4. Do NOT ask anyone if you can “pick their brain”. ‘Nuff said.

  5. Instead, be direct and up-front and tell them you want to interview them to improve your marketing.

  6. In order to be client-centric, you have to research the industry that they work in.

  7. Find out what potential clients do at their job on a day to day basis.

  8. Compliment potential clients instead of just asking for advice.

  9. When interviewing a potential client, their answers become future content ideas

  10. Ask smart questions such as “what are your pain points?”

  11. Ask clients questions such as: “How has utilizing a voiceover talent helped you in the past?”

  12. Ask clients why they use in-house talent as opposed to professional voice talent.

  13. Ask potential clients where they get up to date information for their industry.

  14. We don’t know what we don’t know (about potential clients).

  15. Remember that your potential clients are very busy.

  16. Potential clients will feel complimented if you ask permission to quote them.

  17. The best content is in response to what your client persona is saying.

  18. Speaking the language of your clients is important in order to gain business.

  19. Learn the words that are indexed by google for your target market and build these into the SEO of your website.

  20. How can you make the potential client the hero, and make their life easier?

  21. It’s tough to market to an industry when you don’t typically receive feedback.

  22. Ask your potential client to describe their VO hiring process.

  23. Find out how many departments are involved in a particular production.

Referenced in this Episode

Direct links to things we brought up ++

Pamela’s Website
Editing by Noah from Carl Bahner Productions
Recorded on ipDTL


>> It’s time to take your business to the next level, the BOSS level! These are the premier business owner strategies and successes being utilized by the industry’s top talent today. Rock your business like a BOSS, a VO BOSS. Now let’s welcome your host Anne Ganguzza.

Anne: Hey everyone. Welcome to the VO BOSS podcast. I’m your host, Anne Ganguzza, along with the amazing Pamela Muldoon. Hey Pam, how are you?

Pamela: Hello, hi Anne. I’m very well, thank you. How are you?

Anne: I’m doing good, Pam, I’m doing good. So Pam, you know, I’ve had such a wonderful time talking about content marketing, and email marketing, and compliance, and we’ve had lots of great feedback from our BOSSes out there. And I’ve had a couple of questions that I think we should probably go over for our listeners.

Pamela: Yeah, for sure.

Anne: Listener questions.

Pamela: Yes.

Anne: So a couple of people have asked, Pamela, how do you actually develop a persona?

Pamela: Yeah.

Anne: And what are some of the tasks that I need to do in order to get this done right? I think that’s a great question.

Pamela: It’s a great question. Yeah, it’s a great question, and you’re right. I’ve seen this kind of come up in a few different ways, right, you know, how do you develop a persona or where do I get started. I think another way is, how do I even know what my persona is looking for? And so there’s a process – it sounds simple, but at the same time it takes a little, for some of us, stepping out of our comfort zone. But it’s the art and science of doing what I call a persona interview. There’s a couple of ways you can look at this. So when I’m building a persona for my clients or helping my clients go through this process, when they tell me, well, how do I really know what my customers, you know, my persona, what they’re thinking, or what they really need? It sounds right of trite, but I’ll say ask them, right?

Anne: There’s a simple answer.

Pamela: [laughs] Simple answer.

Anne: Just ask them.

Pamela: But it is kind of asking us to go outside of our comfort zone a little bit. What I mean by that is reaching out.

Anne: Well yeah, because it’s hard to ask somebody you don’t know, Pam. I think that’s probably what’s scaring people off from that.

Pamela: It is, it is. You know, I remind folks that if you frame it, if you’re always framing everything within the customer centric viewpoint, and what I mean by that is making it all about them and not about you, then you’re going to end up with more positive results than negatives. So for example, if you’re already involved, if you’re doing instructional designer or training and development director, something like that, as your persona, are you already involved in say an elearning group on LinkedIn, or maybe even on Facebook? Maybe there’s instructional designer groups you’re a part of, or even just in general on LinkedIn, or any of these social platforms? You know, the kind of the rhetorical question is, what would it mean to just simply ask is, anyone willing to spend 30 minutes on a call to answer some questions about your day, what your job is, or to give me some advice. Right? People love to give advice. I think you would be pleasantly surprised if you gave it a whirl how many positive responses you would get. Because most people love to talk about what they do and the industry they work in.

Anne: Okay, so my question is, yeah, how do you really phrase that, because sometimes it may seem like you want to, and I know this is going to make everyone cringe out there, pick your brain [laughs]

That’s what you don’t want to say.

Pamela: Right.

Anne: You don’t want to say, hey, let me pick your brain for a minute, because that usually is highly insulting to most people I know that are professionals in the business. Because picking people’s brains usually means, can I get your advice for free, and then buy you coffee for that? I think that that typically comes off sometimes as insulting to the professional, because usually the professional you’re asking probably is pretty booked up anyway. And so for them to take time anyway to just have you pick their brain without any type of, I guess, I don’t know, graciousness?

Pamela: I think too it depends on, you know, if your audience is someone who makes money off of being talked to like that. I think that makes a big difference as well. For example, as a business coach or a marketing coach, if someone said, hey, can I get 30 minutes to ask you some questions, you immediately want to say, well, what are you actually looking for here? Right? Because you do make your money off of giving out advice in that regard. So what I’ve done in the past, and I’m pretty straightforward, I’ll say I’m looking to improve my marketing in the e-learning space. Is there anybody in training and development that would be open to a 30 in a conversation to provide some advice? Be direct, be very up front. I think that’s really important. I’ve actually – another voice over professional, who took my advice and did this, is having some amazing results right now, where he’s just surprised at how, first the reaction has been very positive. And then he’s learning all sorts of things. In that process, once you get the interviews, and you only need probably four or five, six people just to get this going, and it’s amazing how much more comfortable you’ll become talking to that person – is, when you make it all about them, you want to make sure that the questions you have, that you’ve formulated ahead of time, are really very you centric, you centric being the customer, not you, yourself as the voice over talent. You can still ask great questions, but make sure that no matter what the answer is, it’s not about judging the answer, it’s about just getting their input, if that makes sense.

Anne: Okay, that’s good. That’s absolutely I think something that we should take into consideration.

Pamela: Yeah.

Anne: Because you don’t want to be infringing on people’s time, which is typically very precious, but again, yeah. I think it really depends on who you’re talking to, and if they do get paid to give out that type of advice, or if they just happen to be in the industry. Because you’re right, I think a lot of people would really like to be held in the regard that yes, they’re an authority in their industry, and that people would come to them for advice. And it’s almost – I always say that in order to be client centric, you have to really kind of research into the industry in which they work, and then do the digging to find out what exactly they do as much as you can, and then compliment them. [laughs]

Pamela: Right.

Anne: While you’re asking for, you know, advice and information.

Pamela: Yeah and I really, I just want to talk a little bit about that, you know, compliment versus judge, a little bit, because that’s really critical I think. It’s really an opportunity to just get the facts. It’s not an opportunity for say a voice talent to judge how that person is using voiceover, say, in their industry, because the answers that they provide become future content ideas. I think that’s really important as well. Okay? So for example I have a list of questions that I have as starter questions. And one of them could be, you know, something like, what frustrates you the most about adding a voiceover talent to your e-learning project? And this is about listening now. Right? Now what if they said things that you didn’t agree with, but they only know what they know. Your job is to now just take the information. I always ask if I can record my interviews, and then I transcribe them, so I have them, so I can see the words as well. And when they provide the answers, or because then you can kind of flip it and say what are some ways having a voiceover talent for your project has helped or made a positive impact, and this can be, this is knowledge. Your knowledge is now power for your future marketing. If they’re saying things like, you know, we just have Janice in accounting do ours, then just ask questions. Don’t get judgmental about it. This is not your time for judgment. It’s just simply, why are you doing that? Perhaps it’s a resource issue. Perhaps they’re in an agile situation where they have to turn things around within minutes or hours versus days. There’s a lot that we don’t know. So we make assumptions. So our assumptions can now be either validated, or they can you know, really be thrown to the wayside by simply having these conversations. Then in our marketing, we counterattack that in content. This could be a really powerful process to just help us get better at how we communicate our value to this particular audience, even if they don’t currently use us today.

Anne: I think you made a very important point that we don’t know what we don’t know –

Pamela: Right.

Anne: – about their job. And it’s very true, because I think we have our own thoughts and ideas about what our clients are doing during the day. And I know sometimes, people get, well, I haven’t heard from them in… or I gave a quote and I was supposed to – and I haven’t heard anything in weeks. Or I’ve never gotten any feedback. A lot of times we have to sit back and remember that most people we’re communicating with, they’re busy people. We’re not their focus for 24 hours a day.

Pamela: We’re pretty low on the totem pole more than likely –

Anne: Right.

Pamela: – when it comes to priorities. Yeah, yeah.

Anne: I think also you make a good point about saying when you’re interviewing them, or you’re asking them questions, I think it’s kind of cool that you said you can use it for future marketing. I think also a good way to compliment, if it’s in the right situation, a good way to compliment the person that you might be interviewing is saying would you mind if I quoted you in a blog article? I would be happy to link back to you or your company. I think that could be something that might be of value.

Pamela: Most definitely. That’s building that relationship, right, being able to use some kind of reciprocity when you’re using that. And even just along the lines of, when you’re asking, do you use voiceover, and they say no, and you find out five or six reasons why they don’t.

Anne: Right.

Pamela: Now you can actually counterattack with five reasons why you should in your content.

Anne: Good idea, great idea.

Pamela: And use it as a form of education. I always say that the best content literally is in response –

Anne: Right.

Pamela: – to what your persona is saying, whether it’s positive, negative, question, it’s all in direct correlation. These all become awesome opportunities. Another question I will ask, just coming right out and saying, where do you get up-to-date information for your industry? What publications, what experts do you follow, what conferences do you usually attend? Maybe they’re online this year, but they’re still attending them. Right? Literally asking them the questions that are kind of boiling in your own brain a little bit. You’re like, I wonder, let’s go ahead and go right to the source. A lot of our sources are willing. And you’re also now reading what they read. Here’s the other caveat to that, Anne. Now let’s say I’ve got a list of three or four experts that tend to come up on a regular basis. I’ve interviewed, let’s say, six or seven instructional designers, and all six mentioned say one person, or four of the six mentioned the same person as an expert in their industry. I will now go follow that person. I will get to know what it is so now I’m able to speak more of the language, right, and start to see what are the common conversations, questions, topics that are kind of centered around this person and kind of go from there. Who knows, you might even get an interview with that person as well.

Anne: Oh sure, and speaking the language is so very important to understand how your client speaks and to be able to speak to them. Because that’s also something you can put into your website in terms of marketing to them, because you can speak the same language, and that’s going to be words that will be indexed by Google, maybe put into the search engines. When people type their questions from that industry, that are asking those particular things that you’re responding to, or that your business responds to, then we hope that your website shows up, and boom, they click and hire.

Pamela: Right. Yeah, it sounds like – you know, I would say it just sounds simple, hey, ask, but it is really a process unto itself, to create persona interviews and really take that on as a project that you want to implement. I always bring up of course e-learning or instructional design because so many folks are playing in that space, but it really does fall into more of that B2B kind of nature, right, where you’re really looking to do some self-marketing. Again this may or may not apply so much to say a casting director or an agent. I mean those processes are still pretty much the way they are, but even if we’re starting – I mean, explainer videos for example, right, there’s video production houses that do explainer videos.

Anne: Absolutely.

Pamela: Your job is to help them be the hero. How can you make their life easier? If you’re not sure you can answer that question with confidence, then it might be time to start building a persona and figuring out how to actually talk to that person directly.

Anne: And I think even, going like to agencies, if you’re direct marketing to agencies, I think what a great, like if you start, if you can start a dialogue with someone from an agency and try to get a feel for what their day is like, I think that would really unveil so much more about, let’s say, those industries like commercial, promo, animation. I think that that is something that seems so far removed as a voice talent. I know myself in the beginning, when I was starting like, I did not really know what an agent, you know, what an agency does, or what their day is even like. It seems so far away from where I am. I’m just trying to get the gig. And so for me to actually research like what’s their day even like, I’m like they just make commercials, or you know that’s just something, when you’re unaware of what a person’s day looks like, and then you’re always like well, I reached out to an agent, or I reached out to an agency, I haven’t heard anything. Well, I think that would give you a great idea as to maybe why they’re not responding, or what their day is like if they’re super busy, or if they filed your email away into a folder for reference later, that would be great. But just knowing and being familiar with how they operate, I think, would do wonders for our [laughs] for our mental state too sometimes, because the not knowing and not hearing back, it’s tough. It’s tough to market to an industry where you don’t have any feedback. This is one way to get feedback, at least to look into why you may not get feedback. I think that would make you a whole lot more confident moving forward, if you’re not hearing back. Or even if you do hear back, I’d say that’s a great opportunity to really go ahead and develop the relationship. I think that’s the most important thing.

Pamela: That’s with all marketing, for sure. When you get a chance to get your persona on a call, you keep it short and sweet, 30 minutes, you know, very succinct. Make sure you’re asking, how do you decide on projects inside the organization? Walk me through that process. What does that look like, what does that sound like, how many different hands touch this? I think we would all be very surprised whether it’s a 30-second commercial or 30,000-word narration, what that process is like, and where we fit in to that process, to just educate ourselves. Yeah.

Anne: And if you’ve never worked in, I’m going to just say, the corporate world, because most of the times we’re trying to reach out to people who are working for companies, agencies, I don’t know if you really realize how many departments are involved in a particular job, right, or in a particular production. There’s so many hands that are in the pie that it will really do you some good to find out and do research and talk if you can. I think it’s really going to open up the possibilities for marketing even better to that industry.

Pamela: Absolutely. Good stuff.

Anne: Good stuff. Well, Pam, I think that really was a great answer. [laughs] It was a great answer to that question and really helped open up my eyes even more than I had already known we needed to really know more about what our potential clients are doing in their jobs and in their industries. Yeah, with a simple answer, just ask.

Pamela: So simple, right guys? [laughs]

Anne: Good stuff. All right. Well, I would like to give a great big shout-out to our sponsor, ipDTL. You too can communicate and connect like a BOSS and find out more at You guys have a great week, and we’ll see you next week.

Pamela: Bye now.

Anne: Bye now!

>> Join us next week for another edition of VO BOSS with your host, Anne Ganguzza, and take your business to the next level. Sign up for our mailing list at and receive exclusive content, industry revolutionizing tips and strategies, and new ways to rock your business like a BOSS. Redistribution with permission. Coast-to-coast connectivity via ipDTL.



Pamela: I’m very well, thank you. How are you?

Anne: I’m doing good, Pam. I’m doing good, you know. We’ve had a lot of…

[both laugh]

Anne: Dammit. Okay, that’s probably going to be an outtake. So.

[both laugh]

Anne: So.

Pamela: Don’t make me laugh uncontrollably.

Anne: Okay.

Pamela: Okay.


Anne: Hey everyone, welcome to the podcast. I’m here…!

[both laugh]

Anne: I don’t know where that came from.

[both laugh]

Anne: Yes, I’m here!

[both laugh]

Pamela: Jesus Christ. Okay. Oh my God. The heat, the heat in the small room is getting to me. [laughs]

Anne: Me too. Okay, here we go. Here we go, okay.


Anne: That was a short episode, by the way.

Pamela: Was it?

Anne: 17 minutes.

Pamela: How long was it?

Anne: Almost 18 minutes. So that’s good.

Pamela: We stayed within our 20 this time, as opposed to the…

Anne: Well now, I’m like watching it like an eagle. I was waiting for you to say something else, because you usually do. [laughs] It’s all good, it’s all good.


Anne: Hey everyone, welcome to the VO BOSS podcast. I’m your host, Anne Ganguzza, with email marketing, content marketing – [laughs] wait.

[both laugh]

Anne: Specialist maven. All right.

Pamela: [laughs] Don’t make me laugh so hard. Oh my God.

Anne: That will be an outtake.

Pamela: I’m going to have to look up the word maven, make sure that it’s a positive –

Anne: Pamela’s a maven. All right, here we go.