Defining Your Customer Through Personas

If you are just getting started in creating a new business and have an idea now it is time to understand exactly who your customers will be so you can get quality feedback from them before you start spending more time or money building out the company.

You need to create a detailed customer persona of your customers. Your existing customer assumptions may change over time as you get more feedback and data but this will be a good starting point. You will also use these personas to target and acquirer customers for the lowest possible cost which we will discuss in the future chapters.

For example, when Bill Gross dropped off his 5 year old at school, he waved goodbye to him and suddenly worried, “What if he doesn’t fall in love with learning, like I did?”.

From there, Knowledge Adventure, a suite of software products built to make kids fall in love with learning was born. Originally, the product was aimed at children between the ages of 5 and 15 and the sales stalled and slumped. They tried everything but it only helped sales marginally. They decided to go with a new customer profile. And asked the question, “What if we made a product for a much narrower audience — like, say, the four million 5-year-olds in the US?”

After testing the new messaging and developing new marketing boxes focused only on five year olds, sales took off. While at the bookstores, parents would see these ‘Jump Start Kindergarten’ boxes and say to themselves, “Hey, I have a 5-year-old, I need this product for him/her.” Once they started to focus on the right product for the right customer, sales took off.

Asking the right questions when developing your customer personas

As a rule of thumb, startups should have no more than 3 customer personas. If you have more, narrow down your focus similar to what Bill Gross did above. You can start the process by following the below buyer persona template.

You must become very intimate with your customers and their personas. This is why some of the best products and companies that are built are done because of personal frustrations. They were the original customer who wanted to build something better for themselves and others who were experiencing the same problems. They by default, were already in the minds of their future customers. With that said, we recommend even these companies build out their customer personas and ask potential and existing customer questions to help them focus on the right features and marketing messages.

For those companies that “eat their own dogfood” and use the products themselves every single day, they tend to have better adoption rates, lower attrition rates and greater success since they are the first to fix bugs, continuously iterate on the product and are constantly in the minds of the customers. But this by itself is not enough, they too must also continuously speak with their customers to constantly improve and enhance the product.

Below are some questions to ask yourself and potential customers when developing your customer personas.

(Demographics)

  1. Who are your customers?
  2. What is their age, sex, education, income level, where they live, etc?

(Background)

  1. What is their job?
  2. What is their title, role and responsibilities?
  3. How big is the company they work for? What Industry?
  4. How is their job measured?
  5. What knowledge and tools do they use in their job?
  6. What does their average day look like?
  7. What does this potential customer do on a daily basis?
  8. What decisions do they make?
  9. Do they have to get approval to make decisions?

(Psychographics)

  1. Why would they use your service or product?
  2. What motivates them to use your service or product?
  3. What do they value the most when making a product or purchase decision?
  4. Do they value support, price, time savings, productivity, personal growth, etc?

(Goals)

  1. What are their primary goals?
  2. What are they responsible for?
  3. What are their inspirations for the future related to their career?
  4. Where do they go for information?
  5. What sources do they use to improve their work and get better?

(Challenges / Pain Points)

  1. What are their current challenges and pain points during their day to day work?
  2. What pain points do they experience related to your or a similar product or service?
  3. What are their most common objections from using your service or product?
  4. What are they saying on why your service will not meet their needs?
  5. What are their concerns or hesitations from using your product?
  6. What language would this customer use to identify their current problem?

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