What is a customer persona?
One of the most common mistakes novel entrepreneurs do is trying to sell to everyone. You might think that keeping a wider aim will help your chances, but the truth is that by trying to target every customer, you are also competing with every other brand on the planet.
You have much better chances to create a clear and memorable impact if your brand, your message, and your customer persona are well defined.
To understand my approach to customer persona creation, I first have to introduce you to two slightly depressing principles.
We are not that special
This one, especially for us Millennials, can be quite hard to stomach. We have been taught that we are beautiful unicorns, as unique and precious as a snowflake. Truth is, there is a finite combination of personality traits, IQ and family and cultural backgrounds. According to branding expert Martin Lindstrom, there are approximately 500 to 1000 truly unique people in the world.
“Based on my work, studying consumers, I would claim that there are only 500 to 1,000 truly unique people in the world. The rest of us are merely iterations or adaptations of these.”
Our thoughts, our fears, our traumas, and dreams are not unique. They are relatable to other people who have had similar experiences, therefore even if we reduce all of our audience to one single person, the strategies derived towards attracting this one person will be applicable to hundreds of thousands of people.
There is no free will.
Again, very depressing. We want to believe we are in control of our own lives and our destiny. But the truth is that we are conditioned by millennia of evolution, as well as by our genetics, our upbringing, by our current situation and even the hormonal levels derived from our nutrition habits.
When we choose to buy a product instead of another, we are basing this choice in a decision-making process that depends on many different factors completely out of our control.
When we profile a customer persona, we try to reduce all of our potential audience to one single individual, and we define every single aspect of their personality and their life. We are trying to know our customers as we would a very close friend, to understand their needs and wants and thus be able to anticipate -or even control - (insert evil laugh here) their decisions.
Try to imagine what their day looks like. What do they do for a living? How do they commute? What do they eat for lunch? How do they spend their free time? Try to picture their personality and circumstances to figure out how can your product make their lives a little better.
What is a customer persona profile useful for?
It can help you create products and services that your customer needs.
By having a deeper understanding of your customer persona, you can make sure that your product is perfectly fitting their needs and wants. Do they appreciate a simple design, or something more intricate? Would they choose a high-quality item that can last them a long time or prefer changing them often? Are they likely to choose turnkey solutions that make their busy lives easier, or do they appreciate a tailor-made solution that makes them feel unique and special? If you understand their lifestyle and personality you can very easily answer these questions and design a product that will engage, convince and retain them.
It allows you to talk to them in their own language.
Speaking to the customer in their own language means to use the kind of vocabulary or slang that they are familiar with, but not only. It also means to talk about the issues that they are interested in, with a similar tone than the one they would take. Do they have a light-hearted, positive attitude towards life or are they deeply involved in social and political issues? Are they spiritual? Ambitious? Family-oriented? Which pop culture references will they be familiar with?
If you want your product to connect with them, to inspire them, you need to understand which topics and words they will be most drawn to.
Figure out which emotions will be most likely to move them.
We all know that marketing nowadays is no longer about selling a product. It is about telling a story. The purpose of this story is to awaken an emotional response that can lead to a long-lasting connection between the customer and the brand.
When we talk about emotion-based branding is important to understand that there are five universal basic emotions: sadness, anger, fear, joy, and disgust. All these emotions play an important role in survival, and they are common to all mammals (and many other animals), in fact, the limbic system (the part of our brain that regulates emotion) is often referred to as the mammalian brain.
Even though the emotions are universal, we have different emotional profiles and can be more sensitive to some of these. Looking at your product and your client you can understand which emotions to evoke in order to create an interest in your product. If you are selling organic home-made dog food, maybe you want to show your customer a video of a cute dog blissfully cuddling with his owner after a nice meal. If you are selling car-seats for children, maybe it´s fear what you want to evoke.
Know when is the best time to reach out to them based on their habits.
When you trace down your customer's day, together with their personality and priorities, you can figure out when will they be most receptive to hear about your product. You also need to understand which point in the decision-making process is best to reach them. Should you reach out to them in order to provoke the desire? To turn the desire into intent? Or when they already have the intent of purchasing?
Is your product something optional or is it a necessity? If you are selling a non-essential product with a higher price tag, maybe it´s a good idea to plan your campaigns right after payday. If on the other side, it´s a first necessity product (for example milk, or diapers) this is not so important.
Is it a product that can be acquired on a whim (such a beverage, a candy bar, or even a pair of new shoes) or does it require prior planning and budgeting (like a vacation) - if your product requires planning and budgeting it´s probably a good idea to make sure you interact with the customer several times. If, on the other hand, it´s an impulse-buy kind of product, you need to make sure that the step from desire to purchase is fast and easy.
Find out where can you find them and capture their attention
From their morning commute, their hobbies to their preferred social media network, drawing a customer persona profile can give you very valuable information on where to find your customer. By analysing their lifestyle and habits you can understand all the possible touchpoints the brand can have with the client and design the most efficient strategy to reach and convince them.
Understand how best to retain them once you have made a sale.
Another common mistake is to think the job is finished once the sale is done. It is usually easier to retain and inspire an already satisfied customer than to attract a new one who is yet to be familiar with a brand. On top of that, there is no better PR than a happy customer.
Understanding your customer´s personality will give you clues on how to handle post-sales customer support and retargeting. Will they appreciate a follow-up call or email, or would they find it invasive?. When they need support, do they prefer to talk to a real person or would they rather find the answers themselves?
It´s possible that you might find it counter-intuitive to reduce your target audience, but the truth is that having a clear and distinct message will always help. Only when you are consistent in your image and communication with your customers can you create a brand that will be recognizable and memorable.
If it feels like you might need a bit more help, in my book The Passion Entrepreneur you will find actionable advice on how to build a show-stopping brand from scratch, including a laser focused customer persona profile.And of course, if you still need a bit more help, that´s what I ´m here for! Click on the button bellow to book a free 20 minutes virtual coffee chat session with me. I´m always happy to talk with aspiring entrepreneurs, would love to hear about your project!