Customer Persona: What It Is and Why You Need It
In a brick-and-mortar store, business owners know their customers. They see their faces, know where they live, see what products they pick up at the store, and what they pick up and put back on the shelf. They ask what brought them into the store, what they’re looking for, and how they can help. They chat about the customer’s life, job and family.
Running your business online makes knowing your customer more challenging. But savvy business owners with a mind toward marketing, sales and customer service know that it’s still critical, and still possible. In some ways, the digital age makes getting information about your customers easier–if you know where to look and how to use the information once you have it.
What is a Customer Persona?
To attract the most promising customers, you need to know who they are, what they do and where to find them. If you are running ads, placing marketing content and building an online presence without deeply understanding your ideal customers, then you are throwing money away.
Creating a customer persona will help direct all these efforts. It will help you better serve existing clients and bring in new customers.
A customer persona is a composite representation of your ideal customer. Think of it as an avatar. It’s fictional, but represents a real person and their real characteristics–or perhaps the identity they want for themselves.
The persona is a highly personal profile created so that your marketing, sales and service become aligned to target this person. The key is to make it specific and deep, so that as you create content and interact with them, you can relate to them as an individual person, rather than a digital blip somewhere out in cyberspace.
Why do I need it?
The more you know about your best customer, the better you can tailor your products, marketing, sales and service to their needs. And the easier it becomes to find more people like them.
Without that focus, finding customers is like throwing darts without even a dart board in sight. The customer persona gives you a bull’s eye, so that everyone in your business is hitting the same target.
You may have a range of customers who represent a variety of backgrounds and interests. In that case, you may want to develop multiple customer personas to represent different categories of customers. For example, if you sold outdoor gear, your customers could be campers, hikers, hunters, etc., and you would ideally market to these groups differently. But it’s best to start small, with one to three customer personas as a focus. You can add more later.
How do I create one?
Start by considering a small number of your best customers. “Best” customers means your most successful–both in dollars spent and satisfactory results.
Next, pull as much information as you can about them. This needs to be more than what’s found in your customer contact information. If you have an online site, you can use Google Analytics to gather information. Facebook also has analytics that can help, and your website should have some tracking information, too.
You want to know what sites your customers are coming from, the key words they searched to find you, where they clicked on your site, and what questions they asked. Then you’ll know what they are looking for and what problems they are trying to solve.
You can also use surveys or interviews of current and prospective customers to get information. It can be time-consuming to collect these, but the information you gain will be worthwhile.
Your persona should include:
Where they live
Education and income level
Hobbies, interests, websites they visit
Job, industry and responsibilities
Where they seek out information
Priorities for spending money, selecting products and services
Their goals, and their challenges to reaching them
Why they chose your product (or why they haven’t chosen it yet)
Use this information to create a profile for your customer persona. You can download these worksheets to help flesh out the details of who represents your ideal customer.
How do I use a Customer Persona once I have it?
Developing a customer persona is a good exercise to focus your thinking. But don’t stop there!
Share the persona (or personas, if you made more than one) with everyone in your business. Put them in a visible space and visit them often. You want everyone in your company to be ready to interact with this person as comfortably as they would an old friend.
The better you know your audience, the better you will align your marketing, sales and service campaigns to speak directly to them. You can become a trusted resource by creating blogs, newsletters, downloads, instruction videos and customer forums that target their needs, and will know where to place these to attract business to your site.
With your customer persona profile in hand, you will know when, where and how to reach your ideal customer. And by making them feel known and understood, you can convert them from a potential customer into a sale.
MI Group helps startups, entrepreneurs, and small- to medium-sized businesses understand who their ideal customers are and how to reach them to grow their business. If you need help, contact us for a free consultation. We’d love to help!