Understanding Customers Through Personas

As a business owner, you understand the difference between starting and building a business. Ideas and means can only get you so far, eventually, you get to the hustle and marketing phase. If you don't market your business the right way to the right people at the right time everything can fall apart. In order to market to the right people you first have to understand who your customers are.

In Product design, we use "user personas" to better understand who is going to use the product, their motivation behind using it and how they will use it. These same techniques work for any business.

Personas from Mailchimp.com  view article here

Personas from Mailchimp.com view article here

Personas are a model of your customers. They are not a real person, but the embodiment of the customer you expect to come into your shop or use your product. This allows you to understand their needs and wants on a deeper, more meaningful level, giving you more insight into how to create a successful marketing strategy. 

In order to create a persona you have to start with research and some intuition.



Start by just observing. If you're looking to open a coffee shop, while it seems like everyone drinks coffee, everyone won't be your customer. Go to a coffee shop that you think is similar to the atmosphere you're wanting. Just grab a cup of joe and sit there and take notes of all the different kinds of people who come into the shop, identify the patterns. These patterns should be quantitative things like age, socioeconomic status, and location. Then identify some more subjective things like the "type" of person; are they college students, graduates, hipsters, yuppies. Then see what these people do; are they are coming and sitting for a long period of time, working, reading, getting coffee to-go, the car they drive off in, etc. 


Create A Persona

Now that you have the bones it’s time to start creating your customer. This where you give them the "look". Using the demographic research you did find the person or persons that embody your customer. You'll identify some basic things about your customer: Are they married? Single? Do they have children? How many kids? What is their education? What is their job? Do they work downtown or from home?

It may not seem very helpful to have these details right now, but all of these things are huge drivers of behavior. Which will show how they will interact with your shop or product. These things will then lead into deeper questions like motivations and goals. This is where you will do a bit of empathy building; gaining deep intuition for what it feels like to live their lives, and understanding why do they do what they do. Why would this person want your product? What will it do for them? Most people don't buy things because they need it, they buy them because it makes them feel a certain way. Ask yourself what is this person looking to get out of your product from an emotional point of view.

By understanding your customers motivations, you will understand how your product fits into their goals and how to address get them there.


Build For Your Customer

Now that you know who your customer is, and you understand what they are looking for in your product, you can design your shop or product around that specific user's needs. Every customer will be slightly different, and you should be open to slight variations of this for different people, but by using this persona you will be able to better service a broad range of people. 

Treat different people differently. Anything else is a compromise.
— Seth Godin

The finishing touches are to give this person a name, a title and picture. It's much easier to understand someone and feel as though they are a real person if they have a name and a face.


Below are some articles and templates for creating simple customer personas.







In the next article we'll discuss how to build a marketing strategy to target your customer and how to dig deep into their goals to give them the things they want, even if they don't know they want it yet.


Stephen Perkins