How to Build a Detailed Customer Persona That Informs All of Your Marketing

customer persona

Marketing without a customer persona is like shooting thousands of arrows into the darkness, hoping that at least one of them will hit. It’s a numbers game – for every single hit, there are plenty of misses.

How can you be sure your message isn’t falling on deaf ears? The most effective marketing is carefully aimed at a specific target. It’s easier to find a client and give him what he wants if you already know exactly what that is.

One solution is to build a detailed customer persona. It’s a tool – a kind of mental targeting system– that you can use to study and get to know your ideal customer, so that you can make your marketing more efficient and successful. Depending on your type of business, you can create either just the one persona, or perhaps more, depending on your needs.

This post will show you the five steps you need to take in order to accomplish this.

Step #1: Know Your Persona’s Basic Demographics

Finding accurate demographics is the first step towards building a useful customer profile. The value of collecting data about target markets is no secret to big corporate marketing teams, and it’s just as important to your small business.

Find out the basic details about your typical customer’s location, age, salary, gender, occupation, shopping habits, and purpose – who is he, and what is he looking for? Is the person you’re targeting the end user, or just the buyer? Is it a company, or an individual?

Common sense and intuition are invaluable, but you’ll also want some hard, cold facts. You can use the following resources to gather worthwhile insights:

  • Facebook Insights provides a wealth of data about who’s interested in your business Facebook page, and which posts they find most interesting.
  • Google Analytics is the go-to resource for many online entrepreneurs, but the sheer quantity of information can be daunting. Shopify explains how to make the best use of it.
  • The US Census Bureau is another standard source of demographic data.
  • YouGov has some meaningful insights, too.

Alternatively or additionally, you can gather data yourself:

  • Create your own survey and provide an incentive for visitors to fill it in, gathering data about the people who visit your site.
  • Conduct one-on-one interviews, which can really help you get at the truth. Compile a list of questions beforehand, and don’t forget to thank the person you’re interviewing!

Step #2: Step Inside Your Persona’s Shoes

Understanding demographics is just the start. To create a really meaningful persona, you will also need to understand the buying personality behind the data. This kind of information is sometimes referred to as psychographics.

Where demographics are quantifiable, measurable, and factual, psychographics are more subjective and open to interpretation. The aim here is to discover what your client is thinking and feeling, so ask yourself some of these questions – or better yet, get a few opinions if you can:

  1. What does he want, value, wish for, dream about, and crave?
  2. What does she hate, avoid, fear, and detest?
  3. Is he more interested in price or quality? Does he buy only the purest cocoa Swiss chocolate, or cheap candy, for example.
  4. Where does he shop? What does she read? When are they online? What influences them?
  5. How does he see himself? Why does he want my product?

If you can really step into your customer’s shoes, you will know how to hit the target with your marketing every time. The final question to ask yourself is: How can I give people what they want, and help them avoid what they don’t want?

Step #3: Create a Detailed Profile for Each Customer Persona

Now the legwork is done, it’s time to put your findings together in a meaningful way.

Once you can put a name and a face to a client, it changes the way you communicate. Customers are no longer vague, nonspecific entities – you start to think of them more as real people.

Choose a name, use a photo, and list the key bits of information about your customer. Here’s an example:

customer persona sample victoria

Get everyone on the team involved while you’re creating the persona – that way, everyone will be aligned and get the full benefit of the exercise.

Another good idea is to print the different customer personas out and put them up on display somewhere. They will serve as constant reminders.

Step #4: Speak Directly to Your Customer as an Individual

Once you know who you’re targeting, it becomes easier to find potential clients and speak directly to them. If you’re sending a marketing email, use the kind of language that would really appeal to your persona.

A properly researched persona makes it easier for you to tailor your email content, your marketing funnel, and your services to the specific needs of the real people who might want what you’re offering.

You can use the technique to improve more than just your email messages. Use it to enhance product development, redesign your webpage, find new market opportunities, and more.

Focus directly on your persona’s interests and emotional triggers. The fact is the decision to buy is a matter of both practical and emotional factors. If you’re already offering good value for money but still struggling to sell, perhaps you’re simply not pushing the right emotional buttons.

Step #5: Keep Updating Your Profiles Regularly

People change, and so does your business. Besides that, everyone is an individual – so one (or even five) personas won’t neatly define each and every customer. You’ll need to keep refining and adjusting your profile as you learn more over time.

It might be worthwhile to set a reminder on your calendar to refresh your personas say once a month. Each time you do so, you’ll get to know each persona a little better. Maybe you’ll even decide to target someone else instead.

Conclusion

You’re selling to real people, with real lives and real emotions. No matter how great your product is, if people don’t feel that it’s meant for them specifically, your marketing could remain ineffective.

Winning hearts and minds begins with really understanding people. Your customer should become more than a number or an email address. Give him a name and a face; get to know everything about him.

Study his habits, his likes and dislikes, and try to understand what he is thinking and feeling. Create a profile with the important details, and put it up somewhere in the office. Then speak directly to that person when you market.

Have you found customer profiling to be an effective strategy in your marketing strategy, and how did you go about getting to know your customers? Let us know what worked for you in the comments section below!

Image credit: geralt, PublicDomainPictures.