Last month I asked how well you know your target audience, and talked about how important it is to get inside their heads to understand why your business is the answer to what they need.

This is key to developing an effective marketing strategy, so you know how, when and where to meet your customers on their home turf, and can start to create the brand marketing messages which will resonate with them.

I promised you some tips on creating customer avatars, or personas. 

Know your Target Audience by creating a customer persona

Working with Loris, my brand strategy associate, we’ve delivered lots of workshops to help clients understand their customers. So we’ve put together our beginner’s guide to creating customer personas, along with a template, which you can download here.

This guide is focussed on micro-businesses, where you may not have access to a vast amount of digital data, but do have a lot of knowledge about your individual customers.

Step 1. Gather your data

To create personas, you need information about your customers. Demographics, transactional and behavioural information, for example. You can collect this data through surveys, interviews, social media analytics, website analytics, your sales data, and so on. 

Ideally, you’ll gather as much data as possible. But if you’re a very small business, or you don’t have the skills or access to gather and analyse this kind of information, all is not lost. You can still build customer personas using your knowledge of the people who do business with you. And if you’re a professional services business whose business model is based on having great relationships with your clients you could even think of a few great clients, and talk to them!

Step 2. Analyse your data

If you’ve got access to sales data, website analytics etc, take a detailed look at it to identify patterns. You can use widely available tools like Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets for this. Look beyond the numbers to see what stories they are telling you. This activity will allow you to group your customers into segments who share similar needs, characteristics and behaviours. 

Step 3. Build a profile

One of the most important aspects of this exercise is to encourage you to think about your customers not as a homogenous group (eg, lawyers, aged 35-55), but as individuals. 

So to build your first profile, using the data you have available, think about a specific person. This could be an actual client (though it’s usually a good idea not to use real names). 

You can use our template to create your persona.

Let’s say you’re a small firm of accountants, offering services to other small business owners. Who is your ideal client? You presumably want someone who will keep using your services year after year.

Who are they?

Your customer persona might look something like this*.

Example of a customer persona

*this is an entirely fictional example for this blog. Any resemblance to a real person is purely coincidental!

You can include more or less detail in your personas, but the more information you can include about each person, the more you understand them.

Once you’ve created a few personas, you can start to use them to think about your brand messages. What is most important to your customers about what you offer? 

What problems do they have that you could help them solve? Or, what do they want to achieve, and how could your services help them?

Creating your customer avatars/personas is one way of seeing your customers in a more holistic way, to get you thinking about your business from their perspective, rather than yours.

You can download The Marketing Associates’ free customer persona template here if you want to get started.

If you’re interested in learning more, or would like to book a customer persona workshop where we’ll guide you through creating avatars for your business, get in touch. or call 01233 720379

At The Marketing Associates, we specialise in strategic freelance marketing support for professional service practices, providing excellent quality advice on your marketing strategy to develop and grow your business on a retained basis.