What is a Customer Persona and How Do You Create One?

what is a customer persona and how do you create one? ybkbs magazine
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By Jess Dixon

Who is your target audience?

If you can’t answer that question quickly and succinctly, your marketing is going to suffer. Much as we’d all like to think our target customer is “anyone and everyone,” it doesn’t really work that way. Similarly, that’s not helpful from a marketing perspective. You cannot sell to “everyone”. Instead, you need to narrow down who you’d like to attract, and get to know as much about them as you can.

This is where the customer persona comes in.

What is a customer persona?

A customer persona is a profile of your ideal customer. In other words, who are you talking to when you create your marketing materials? It’s not a representation of an actual person, of course. Instead, it’s a fictional embodiment of the characteristics that make up your ideal buyer.

Why do you need a customer persona?

You cannot market to someone if you don’t have a good idea of who they are. By creating a customer persona, you give yourself a focus when it comes to crafting your marketing materials. By knowing your ideal customer, you can speak to them more effectively.

Your customer persona will guide your brand voice, product or service decisions, the marketing channels you use, and your messaging.

Read on to learn how to create one.

Step 1: Demographic information

This stage is about the most basic information about your customer. What gender are they? How old are they? What life stage are they at? Where do they live?

It can be helpful to give them a name, if you wish. Choose something memorable. Some people even find a stock photograph that represents their ideal customer. Feel free to do this if having a visual reminder helps you.

Step 2: Interests and Work

The exact focus in this section will depend on the nature of your business. If you sell products or services that are likely to be purchased by individuals, you’ll want to focus on your ideal customer’s interests and how they spend their free time.

If your focus is more on business-to-business (B2B) sales, you’ll want to learn about your ideal customer’s company, job role, level of responsibility, and decision making power.

In this section, you should also consider your ideal customer’s media habits. For example, do they spend more time on LinkedIn or Instagram? What newspaper or magazine do they read? Do they prefer to read books or watch TV? And so on. Understanding their media preferences will inform where you’ll market to them and what tone and type of messaging you’ll use.

Step 3: Consumer Habits

At this stage, we’ll learn how your ideal customer normally spends their money. How much do they earn and what level of disposable income do they have? Do they like to make impulse buys, or is every purchase carefully assessed first? How much money do they typically spend on products or services like yours?

In the case of B2B marketing, you should consider the finances of your target company. What’s their annual turnover? What kind of budget do they have to spend on products or services like yours? Who gets to make those purchasing decisions?

Step 4: Problems

This is perhaps the most important step in creating your customer persona. Once you know what problems your ideal customer is facing, you can start working out how your product or service can help them solve it.

The problems you identify should be relevant to what you sell, of course. Here are some examples:

“Bob is starting a new job. He is on a tight budget, but needs some new workwear”.

“Jane is the CMO of Large Company PLC. Her team are struggling to make their annual sales quota.”

Try to condense your ideal customer’s problem down into no more than 2 sentences.

Step 5: Desired Outcomes

You’ve identified your customer’s problem. Now you need to work out what outcome they’d like to see. In other words, what do they want? (Naturally, this should be something you will then try to provide with your product or service.)

To return to the examples above, Bob’s ideal solution might be, “he would like to find a company selling stylish but affordable workwear so he can feel confident on his first day in the new office.” Jane’s ideal solution might be, “she would like to find an all-in-one digital marketing solution that will help her team attract new leads and boost their conversion rate.” And so on.

Step 6: Put It All Together

By bringing this all together, you should have a reasonably clear picture of your ideal customer. At this stage, go back over what you’ve written and see if there are any glaring issues. For example, if you discover that your ideal customer’s budget is out of sync with what your products cost, you’ll need to rethink your marketing plan.

Once you’re happy with your customer persona, save it somewhere prominent. I know some business owners who have printed out their customer persona and stuck it on the wall in the office! Refer back to it each time you make a marketing decision.

If you’re guided at all times by your customers, their problems, and their needs, you can’t go far wrong.

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