One of the most important components of any marketing plan or strategy is your audience. Any message, content asset, or marketing material needs to provide value to a specific audience to compel them to make a desirable action, whether it’s to subscribe to your blog or YouTube channel, follow you on social media, sign up for your newsletter, or, of course, become a customer.
And it all begins with understanding and defining your audience. This is where customer or buyer personas come in. A customer persona is basically a profile of your ideal customer—a research-based semi-fictional representation with detailed information about your target consumer, including:
- Demographic information
- Consumer behaviors and preferences
- Beliefs, attitudes, and values
- Pain points or challenges
- Unmet need and how it relates to your product/service
- Channels where they go for information or entertainment
Your customer persona helps you frame your marketing messages for a specific audience, ensuring that it speaks to their needs, their goals, and their preferred channels for content consumption. In fact, according to a Cintell report, 71 percent of companies who exceed revenue and lead goals have documented persona.
But this begs the question: how do you go about creating customer personas?
As mentioned earlier, personas are based on research. And while different people have different ways of building customer profiles, many will gravitate toward the same set of questions when doing their customer research.
1. Role and Job Title
- What exactly does your ideal customer do for a living?
- Do you tend to engage with C-suite members (i.e. top executives, CEOs, and CFOs among others)?
- Who do they report to, if ever?
The answer to these questions depends entirely on your circumstances. For example, if your business serves a predominantly B2B market, you can assume that your audience is composed of business decision-makers—individuals in charge of making procurement and purchasing decisions.
As you answer this question and begin profiling your customers, you can include information such as:
- Educational attainment
- Professional background
- Position in the organization
2. Responsibilities and Daily Activities
- What is a typical day in your customer’s life like?
- What tasks comprise an ordinary work day?
- How do they measure the success of their work?
- What skills do they need to perform their job?
These questions allow you to understand the motivations and challenges of your potential customers. Of course, some questions will apply in some situations and others will not—for example, these questions assume that your customers are employed. In this case, feel free to reframe the questions according to your goals.
3. Media Consumption Habits
- How much time does your ideal customer spend on social media?
- Where do they get their news from? What type of content do they consume most every day—video, articles, or social media posts?
- What is their favorite social media platform?
These questions help you figure out what kind of content your ideal customers consume regularly and where they go online for news and information. The answer/s to this question can be the difference between creating mostly video content vs. blogs or posting on Linkedin vs. Facebook.
4. Demographics and Firmographics
- What is the average age of your customers?
- Are they single, married, or parents?
- For organizations, what kind of industry are they in? What are their verticals?
- What challenges does the firm face?
Demographic data may seem unimportant, but it can help you frame your messages for a specific age group. For example, millennials tend to care more about price and would rather splurge on experiences—vacations, concerts, and live sporting events.
Firmographic data, on the other hand, lets you discover whether the organization has an unmet need that your business can solve—useful for B2B firms.
5. Purchase Factors They Care About
- What factors push your customers into making a purchase? Bargains? Limited-time offers? Convenience?
- What product factors catch the attention of your customers? Is it features, benefits, or price?
Your research in this area will help you frame your message to prioritize things like product features or benefits, depending on what your customers care most about. If they value price, your marketing messages can position your business as providing the best value for money.
Why You Should Develop Customer Personas
One of the biggest reasons to build customer personas lies in how it encourages team or organization to think about communicating the benefits of their product or service in terms of the actual people who will use it. It forces you to think of them as people—not just users or customers or some abstract concept. This also help you think about how to provide real value to your customers, which is ultimately what they care about.