Creating customer profiles isn’t new – we’ve been talking about the importance of getting inside our customers’ heads for years. What has changed and improved though is the level of detailed understanding that we should now have about our customers.
Our Customer Profiles should be more detailed and more insightful than ever before.
I’m going to share with you the three areas your Customer Profile must cover, as well as why you need to have them.
Customer Profiles – the why
If it’s been said once it’s been said a million times: your customers should be at the centre of all of your marketing.
Your job, as a marketer, is to attract the attention of your ideal customer, then hold it throughout their entire journey to make a purchase decision. To do this and to ensure that you retain their interest at every step of the Customers’ Buying Journey, every single piece of marketing your organisation does has to be created and delivered with your customers in mind.
To achieve this, you have to know your customers.
But how well? If you want your marketing to be effective, then very well.
Here are three key areas to cover in a Customer Profile (also known as a Customer Persona).
1. Problems and emotions
When my clients and I sit down to create a Profile of their Customers we always begin with the problems that have driven their customers to buy their product or service.
The problems could be as simple as, “I need a new duvet cover for my child that is planet-friendly” or as complex as, “I need to make my school’s ICT work more effectively for us” or as scary as, “I’ve been arrested for something I haven’t done”.
We take the overt, headline problem that needs solving, then dig deeper:
- How did this problem happen / arise?
- How does the customer feel about having this problem?
- How much do they need it to be solved?
- What happens if it isn’t solved?
Good marketers then take their understanding of how their ideal customers feel about their problem and use it to create powerful, compelling marketing messages that cannot fail to grab these people’s attention.
2. Their Logical Tick List
Bryony Thomas, in her award-winning book, ‘Watertight Marketing’ talks about emotion and logic in the purchase decision. We all have a logical “tick list” in our mind that has to be satisfied before we make a purchase decision.
What’s on your ideal customer’s logic list?
Your customers will, typically, want the answers to these questions:
- Why will this solution work for me?
- Does it have the X, Y, Z features that I really need?
- Is it at a price that I am willing to pay?
- How much time am I willing to give to using this product / service?
- Will it be delivered to me in a convenient way?
- Has it helped people like me?
You then have to ensure that your prospective customers can easily find the facts and information they need to help them give you a positive “tick” on each area of their logical list.
3. Who, what, when and where
Spot on marketing messages that meet emotional and logical needs are great: but they have to be delivered in the right place, at the right time, via the right method.
So, now you need to develop your understanding about your ideal customers’ lives and preferences for finding and absorbing information.
You need to determine and record:
- Where they turn to – on line and off line – for advice or information to solve these problems they have
- What their preferred method of consuming information is (visual, aural, verbal, pictorial etc.)
- Which times of the day they are thinking about the problem they want us to solve
The following basic example shows how you can then use this information:
A 35 year old mother needs a duvet cover for their child. They are a full time worker. They are thinking about this problem in their lunch break. While eating lunch at their desk, they scan Pinterest and Instagram for ideas and inspiration.
So, your marketing has to be visual (show the product to inspire), on facebook and pinterest between midday and 2pm. It’s possible they are using their phone or a notebook to scan, so it has to look good on a small screen.
If you are to successfully reach your ideal customers then you need to understand the where, what and which otherwise no matter how thoughtfully crafted your marketing messages are, they will fail.
Next step – filling the gaps
Typically, when I run workshops with my clients to create this comprehensive picture of their clients, there are gaps. That’s fine. Some market research might be required to go away and get the missing information.
Some clients want to press ahead and build their marketing plans with incomplete knowledge about their customers.
The way we make this work is to create an initial marketing campaign and use the reaction to it to help fill the gaps. Again, that’s fine as long as you accept that it means this initial marketing campaign will be almost on the mark but not as accurate as it could be and that it’s secondary purpose will be to give you customer data.
And if you are in doubt that all of this thinking about your customers is necessary…
Let me point you in the direction of PepsiCola who in 2017 decided to stop using an external marketing agency to create adverts. The external agency always ran customer testing to check concepts of new campaigns. PepsiCola decided they didn’t need to test their idea for an ad campaign with audiences. It had disastrous results. Even the daughter of Martin Luther and Coretta Scott King felt compelled to condemn it.
As Thomas Hobbs wrote in Marketing Week “The backlash over the Kendall Jenner ad shows marketers need an outside perspective, whether from an ad agency or by conducting thorough market research and reaching out to consumers.”
So: take the time to build up that picture of your customers – and your marketing and sales results will be better for it.
If you haven’t yet segmented your customers into effective segments, then do take the time to read these two other blogs:
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