Why Your Startup Needs Customer Personas
Has someone ever tried to sell you a product that clearly was not meant for you? A few days ago, I received the following email:
In essence, this individual was trying to sell me anti-aging cream. For those who don't know me, I'm a 22 year-old male. In other words, I should not be receiving this message. A quick glance at your spam folder will likely reveal similar messages. The senders behind these emails focus on sending messages out to as many people as possible, in hopes that 1% of recipients will be interested in whatever they are selling. I call this the "spray and pray" model, and while it can work in rare cases, this method is expensive, and leaves a high probability that your emails will permanently be marked as spam. Wouldn't it be easier to just try selling to the people who want your product?
Rather than spamming thousands of random individuals, I use the inbound marketing process to send the right messages to the people who need my service. The first step of this process is to define the individuals who could benefit from your product and break them into customer segments - groupings of customers with similar goals, problems, and demographical information. A car dealership may have 3 segments: a high-school student looking for a low-cost car, a bachelor looking for a luxury sports car, and a family looking for an SUV with great safety features. While every individual is unique, the people who fall into each group will have a similar set of wants and needs. After defining these customer segments, we're going to create our customer personas - a real-life depiction of one of our customers.
How to Build Customer Personas
Building out these customer personas will help us to empathize with our customers by providing a background on who they are, not as customers, but as individuals. Not every high-school student will have the same goals, fears, and hobbies, but as time goes on, you will start to see trends in these various customer segments, and revise your selling strategy based on these trends. Our customer personas will consist of several important pieces of information about each of our customer segments:
- Background: professional experience and family status
- Demographics: age, gender, and annual income
- Hobbies and interests: what do they do in their free time?
- Goals: what do they hope to achieve in life?
- Challenges: what is interfering with their goals?
- Common objections: what is preventing them from buying your product or service?
- Biggest fears: what is keeping them up at night? Pro Tip: find a way to pitch your product as a solution to these fears and you will double your conversion rate.
Take some time to create your first customer persona before continuing. Use the sample customer persona below to help you in building your own persona.
After you have filled out your customer persona, look back at everything that you wrote down about this customer and circle any statements that are based off of assumptions. For those with new businesses, you are likely to find that half of your views on who your customers are rest on nothing more than assumptions. There is nothing wrong with this - assumptions are a great starting point for defining our customers. However, successful businesses do not make decisions on the basis of assumptions.
Using assumptions to define our customer personas is often the first step in our path to customer discovery. The next step is to either validate or invalidate these assumptions with customer interviews, which we will delve into next week. In the meantime, don't forget to sign up for my newsletter to be notified about next week's customer interview article, as well as future inbound marketing updates.
all the best,