How To Define Your Customer Persona
Contrary to popular belief, the most important part of a company is not having a product or a service. It is having a customer. Without a customer, there is no demand for the product or the service. With this in mind, it is incredibly important to know who your customer is.
A quote that guarantees failure: “My customer is everyone. Everyone can use my product”.
Understanding your customer can help you fundamentally shift not only the way you do marketing, but the way you do business. All business decisions should be made with a target-audience in mind.
A customer persona is defined as a (somewhat) fictional character that is created to represent the different customers that use your product or service.
Building out these fictional representations allows you to humanize the marketing process. You’re not just marketing to the general public, you’re marketing to Bob or Cindy. The goal of a persona is to determine what makes them tick. What will push them further down the buying process?
Your marketing efforts should align with the needs and wants of Bob or Cindy.
How to Build Customer Personas
Building customer personas is not an easy process. You will have to devote some time and energy to it.
The best personas combine secondary research along with primary research. The secondary research is found from previously constructed market research. This is particularly useful for demographic data such average household income and other general census type data.
Primary research, on the other hand, is great for both demographic and psychographic data. The importance of primary research cannot be stressed enough. Learning about your customers firsthand will always trump an market research report that you could download somewhere for free.
Primary research can come in the form surveys, focus groups, interviews, etc. Surveys can provide you with large amounts of data relatively quickly, but focus groups and interviews are more time consuming and generally produce deeper insights.
In the end, you should have at least one customer persona. You may have many more types of customers, but one persona is a great start. These personas should be regularly consulted and serve as a great litmus test whenever you’re developing new strategies.
Now that you have your in-depth customer persona developed, you want to identify the lifecycle stages of your customers. The number of stages in the lifecycle depends completely on your business.
For the sake of simplicity and generalization, your customers will likely fall into one of three stages: Awareness, Consideration, Decision.
During the “Awareness” stage, your customers are learning they have a problem.
Bob’s car is on its last leg and he needs to purchase a new one. During this stage, you don’t want to bombard your customer with product marketing. Provide him with information that could help him make a decision.
So in Bob’s case, he might stumble across a nice checklist you put together about all of the factors he needs to consider when purchasing a car. Or he might come across a guide created by yours truly that describes all of the new eco-friendly technology that automobiles can offer.
At this stage, your customers are starting to consider their options. They have a foundation of knowledge and are now evaluating the pros and cons of their options. Here’s where you can start providing them some product marketing. However, trying to sell them too hard might actually push your product out of the running.
Bob now knows all about the factors to consider thanks to your handy checklist. Now he finds the useful comparison tool you have on your website. It lets him put your car head to head against direct competitors.
At the final stage, your customers know they have a problem and have found some solutions. Here’s your chance to push some more product marketing on them. It might be time to send Bob a direct email with an invitation to test drive your car.
Combining the Customer Persona with the Customer Lifecycle is a process known as Content Mapping. It allows you to get an idea of what type of marketing assets are best, given the persona and stage they are at within the lifecycle.
Customers are the most important part of your marketing process.
While secondary research is useful, primary research is more valuable when building your customer persona.
The stage your customer is in during the purchasing lifecycle should influence how you market to them.