If I were to ask you “Who is your ideal customer?”, would you be able to give me a specific description? I’m not just asking for an age range or general location; I want their name, exact age, occupation, and whole life story. Can you do that?
It probably sounds ridiculous to get that granular when thinking about your small business’s whole target audience, but creating a “persona” makes your ideal customer tangible to everyone in your company. Having a single person to point to instead of a broad general idea of a customer allows everyone to have the same goal of catering to that customer. With a persona, you don’t have to guess about what your customer might want, a persona allows you to figure that out.
Creating a Customer Persona
It’s easy to get started with your customer persona. There’s already a lot of information out on the internet that can help with the creation of your persona including census data, industry & competitor analyses, etc. You can also use data you already have like your previous customer demographics or customer feedback. You can even conduct your own research and interview customers or look at analytics on your social media accounts.
Once you have enough information, it’s time to bring this persona to life! To start: pick out a name, age, gender, occupation, and location. Once you have those details down, start diving deeper. What’s their personality like? What challenges are they facing? Why would your product or service help them out? What’s the best way to get your product or service in front of them? What social media do they use?
One of our favorite templates is from DE Toolbox, creators of the book Disciplined Entrepreneurship. Check out their examples and use them to create a persona of your own.
It’s also important to note that creating a persona is not a one and done thing. Just as you would pivot your business or marketing strategy when something significant changes, you must step back and see if your ideal customer has changed as well. Not to mention, it’s sometimes helpful to have multiple customer personas, depending on the product or service!
Hello Tina Traveler
Let’s go through the process of making a customer persona together. For fun, we can pretend that we are a luxury travel agency in the eastern United States. We know from our experience with previous customers that the age range for most of our bookings is between 40 and 70 years old and their households make more than $100k a year. Most customers are married and have steady, high-level jobs. They usually don’t have the time or mental capacity to plan out a vacation on their own.
That’s a great start. Now, let’s get specific!
First, we can name her Tina Traveler. She is a 45 year old woman who works as a lawyer at a lucrative law firm, she makes $130K a year. She has 2 children, a boy and a girl, ages 10 and 14. Her husband is a stay at home dad who is busy homeschooling their kids. She wants to take a vacation to spend some time with her family. She gets home late and is unable to take the time to plan a vacation while also trying to balance being a good wife and mother.
What kind of problem are we solving for Tina Traveler? And what marketing message would eventually win her over? Paying a travel agency to plan her vacation would ensure that everything is accounted for. She doesn’t have to worry about possibly missing crucial details that could make or break her vacation. How do we reach her? She’s usually on Facebook during her lunch breaks so let’s create some Facebooks ads with a form to gather basic information about her vacation wants and needs. Let’s offer times to talk to her that are outside of normal business hours.
Bringing It Back
Having a specific person to market to makes it easier to plan in all aspects of your business. You may have never thought about reaching a customer during their lunch break or outside of normal business hours. When you operate on hypotheticals, it’s hard to pinpoint what could actually work. With the example above, we explored what we could do in terms of marketing, but now you can show this persona to the actual travel agent and now they’re better able to prepare to serve customers like Tina Traveler. You now know that you should hire employees that can onboard customers on the phone after 5PM. Having agreed upon target personas brings benefits for your entire company in more ways than just an “ideal audience” would.