Understanding Your Customer and Developing Customer Personas
The key to successful marketing and communication
Do you wonder ‘So who exactly is my customer’?
Yes, we all aware of marketing buzzwords such as ‘Demographics’ and ‘Psychographics’ but do we really know who our audience is, their values and beliefs, their current lifestyle, what they aspire to, the daily problems they face, what they are trying to get done, what and who influences them? This is where customer personas come in.
Only once we peel back the layers of the onion to reveal individual characteristics, can we truly understand who we are targeting and be genuinely relevant to them. The more information we can glean about our target audience, the more authentic, valuable and meaningful we can be.
Research about Customer Groups
Substantial research has been published about the characteristics of different generations and their behavioural differences when buying products. These differences offer a starting point to understanding the characteristics of different groups of consumers.
Baby boomers generally have the money to do as they choose, and are accustomed to a buying process that involves walking into a physical environment and engaging with a sales consultant. They are, however, big users of the internet too, with the majority of them accessing the internet at least once per day and over half of them using social media, mostly Facebook and LinkedIn.
Gen X is profoundly busy. They’re likely to have children who are young, in school or at university, demanding both time and money, and have busy careers that demand the same. Some Gen Xers will be grandparents too and they’re also likely to be caring for elderly parents. They are not averse to talking to sales consultants, they just lack the time to do it and the internet is where they can do their research in the little unpressured time they have.
Gen Y also referred to as Millennials, are the tech/web savvy generation of today. Gen Y’s have grown up with the internet and technology at their fingertips. Being more comfortable communicating via email, social media or text messages, they see the internet as the preferred way to purchase products and services. Typically, they avoid sales situations and speaking with sales consultants.
So that information is ok from a big picture perspective but for effective digital marketing and online communication, it’s necessary to delve deeper to develop content and marketing messaging that meet your specific audience’s questions, information needs and in a way that is relevant to them.
Customer Personas: The key to effective marketing and communication
The process for gaining a deep understanding of your different buyer groups in digital marketing is known as developing customer personas. The word “persona” comes from the Greek, meaning “mask”, and the idea of focusing on the individual, who represents a group. Adele Revella, founder of the Buyer Persona Institute, defines a buyer persona as “A detailed profile of an example buyer that represents the real audience – the buyer that you hope to persuade to buy your products, services or solution.” (Revella 2015)
The idea behind a customer persona is to gather as much data as possible about a customer group to help you better understand who they are and what they care about. Setting up a persona profile for your audience is a matter of identifying certain traits within a framework.
You may want to set up a table with the following columns to help get you started.
(Bear in mind that you can use any trait that may yield the customer information you’re looking for)
Customer Persona Template
(e.g. age, location, income level, marital status, children)
|My Needs (Problem I need to overcome)||Specific Likes||Specific Dislikes||One day in the life…||Influencers|
‘WHO’ (Who influences their purchase decisions?)
‘WHAT’ (What influences their purchase decisions?)
|Daily Media Touchpoints|
By creating these customer personas, it helps you understand your customers and generate better quality leads.
Customer Persona Fictional Example:
ED: Bachelor’s degree
Salary: 110,000 pa
Married with 3 children
Has her own small beauty business
|The Problems |
“I want a car that my husband and I would be happy to go cruising in on a weekend away”
“I need it to fit in all the kids, their friends and their stuff”
“I want it to be practical but I don’t want something that I wouldn’t want to be seen in”
“I don’t want a gas guzzler or something expensive to maintain”
“I don’t have time during the week or on weekends to spend hours in dealerships”
|One day in the life|
Drops kids to school early for sports
Walks to her office
Picks up car to attend lunchtime school function then parks at work
After work drives to sports practice and then collects kids from activities.
On the phone doing business during driving time
|Her values and goals|
2 kids in private schools one in public primary
Balancing budget to pay for school fees
Values sports and outdoor activities
Often volunteers for school and sports roles
Strives for work-life balance
Considers herself young at heart
Cares about climate change and takes action when she can to reduce her environmental footprint
Doesn’t watch TV
Occasionally goes to the cinema.
Listens to non-commercial radio
Confident internet user
Reads the news online and the local paper that is delivered.
Participates in social networks and forums related to sports, women in business, work life balance.
|The experience she wants |
Likes to be ‘on trend’ and a bit funky and original
Cares about safety and fuel efficiency
The car would be predominantly hers, but husband will be involved in the purchase decision.
Seeks opinions of her school, work and sport network
|Her most common objections |
Doesn’t want to give up too much time to solve the problem
Thinks a larger vehicle has too much impact on the environment but wonders if she can manage with a small one.
Thinks what she would really like will be outside her budget
The customer persona example above is the persona of one individual but also of a buying group that shares the same characteristics. From this outline, it is possible to create content for a website or blog that is both meaningful and addresses the needs and desires of this group.
How do you go about developing customer personas for your buying groups?