September 19, 2014 Kevin Erb

Persona non grata

How well do you know your customers? Like, really, really know them? Buyer-persona’s-gebruiken-om-content-meer-menselijk-te-maken_900_450_90_s_c1_smart_scale

Sure, we all think we know and understand our customers – everything from general demographics like age, gender and race to psychological factors such as color or design preference, purchase history, shopping habits, etc. So often, however, what we think we know about our customers can be little more than assumptions and generalizations based on outdated experiences, insights and data.

Truly knowing your customers is important for any number of reasons, of course; the most important of them all perhaps being that it could – and should – drive every strategic plan and decision you make.

Is there a way, then, to better and more completely understand and know your customers? We’ve found the best way to better understand all of your customers is to identify and define one of them.

Many people know this process as developing a customer “persona.” Other industries can call it different things – the consulting firm Bain calls it a design target – but the concept is the same: using a customized mix of demographic, geographic and “psychographic” factors, you build a model of your ideal or typical customer. No detail is too small – name, age, sex, race, location, social media habits, TV habits, car, living situation, family or no family, white or wheat, etc. You get the picture. And getting this picture is very important and potentially valuable.

The good news – there are an incredible number of resources, templates and worksheets that break down the persona-development process. If you don’t already have a customer persona in place, or are suddenly concerned about using outdated concepts to define your current customers, make the time before the end of the year to do it. Your success in creating many new customers just may depend on you better defining just one.