Your business doesn’t exist without your customers. The question is, how well do you know your customers? Probably not as well as you should, or could. Your customers aren’t an abstract idea; they are real people who buy your products and services. One of the biggest mistakes businesses make is not developing a deep enough understanding of their customers, and, because of that, making a lot of assumptions about them. This lack of understanding is exactly why developing customer personas is so important. You’ll find that customer personas are useful in nearly every phase of product development, sales, and marketing. Identify exactly who your customers are, what they need, and how they can engage with your business through customer personas. Learn why and how to develop your own customer persona.
What is a Customer Persona?
Before you can use or develop a customer persona, you need to know what it is. A customer persona, sometimes also known as a buyer persona, is a semi-fictional person developed to act as a representation of your business’s ideal customer. Personas are a composite of the features you want to target, based on real data that you’ve collected from user research and web analytics. When developed, personas provide friendly examples of the ideal customer you want to reach. They promote discussion, collaboration, and insight throughout the stages of business. One key is that they need to be believable as real people. It’s important that you give them names, backgrounds, and behavioral identifiers like motives, attitudes, and negative trigger points. You might even think of them as imaginary friends for your business.
Creating Your Customer Personas
Your customer personas should be so detailed that they could spring from the page into real life. The question is, where do you begin? Customer personas really begin with research. Market segmentation, surveys, polls, interviews, and social media insights can all help drive the research for developing your customer personas. It’s important that you make accurate identifications about who your customers are. All of this research and information helps create truly dimensional personas. Visualize the customer and create an engaging first-person narrative that really focuses on the kind of customer you have targeted.
When we talk about customer personas, there is a reason we talk about them plurally. Your business won’t have just one customer persona, but rather a few, or maybe even several. You can have several customer personas to fit your business needs. For each of your customer personas, you need to have some basic information, including:
- Name – A person isn’t a person without a name. To make your persona feel like a real person, you need to name them.
- Occupation – This includes the persona’s role and salary as well as information about the company they work for and its size.
- Demographics – Age, gender, location, education level, and household/business size should all be included in the demographics.
- Personal histories – Think about your persona’s goals, needs, and interests when they interact with your company. What problems do your personas have that your business can help solve? How do those needs change over time?
- Expectations – What traits of a business interaction does your persona value? What aspects of the sales process tend to push your persona away?
This isn’t a comprehensive list, and you might consider adding additional traits that are useful and specific to your industry. Hobbies or political leanings might offer insight into your customer personas. The bottom line is to include any details that may help provide insight.
Gathering Data for Customer Personas
Your persona’s name is the one detail that you get to create yourself; everything else needs to be based on business data. Do you know where to gather all of that information? The answer isn’t just one place, but several sources across your business network. Here’s where to start:
- Website analytics – Your website can provide a wealth of information about your customers, everything from age groups to income level and more.
- Social media – While social media can provide a wealth of analytics, it also offers the opportunity to actively engage with your audience to help you determine problems, goals, values, and turn-offs.
- Surveys and interviews – Uncover broad trends across your users with the help of surveys. Discover user problems, needs, and expectations. Consider sending brief surveys to gather data that is harder to obtain through analytics. Interviews are a time to delve more deeply into goals, needs, and interests.
- Your team – Your team members are interacting with your customers already; use them as another source of information. Gather data from team members in various departments, including sales, customer service, and product development. Hold brainstorming sessions to help identify what makes your customers unique.
Customer personas should not be based on opinions and assumptions. In order to work, they should be based on data-driven research.
Using Your Customer Personas
It’s not enough to just create the customer personas and hand them out to your team. You need a clear plan for how these personas should be incorporated throughout the company. For your marketing team, make sure social media posts are designed to engage your personas and address key goals. For your sales team, the use of the customer personas can help empathize with customers as they proceed through the sales funnel. Remind all of your employees that these personas represent real people that you are attempting to reach.
You can never know your customer too well. Customer personas are a guide to help in your decision making and lead your company to build the best customer experience. Safeguard knows that by developing rich and detailed personas, your marketing will begin to truly resonate with your personas’ real-life counterparts. Your personal Safeguard consultant has additional ideas and advice for marketing your business, along with thousands of business solutions. Contact us today.