how to create a customer persona

How to Create a Customer Persona in 5 Steps

Branding and marketing aren’t just about sexy content and viral posts. At the heart of both is the need to connect with the people you’re meant to serve. We’ve already covered how important it is to niche down (those people you’re meant to serve? Yeah, they’re not everyone with a pulse and a checkbook.)

A huge part of connecting with your ideal customers is:

1 – Knowing who they are

2 – Understanding what speaks to them, what they’re looking for, and how you fulfill their needs

To do this, you’re going to need to build customer personas. 

What is a customer persona, you ask? Sometimes they’re known as user personas, but the end result is still the same. It’s a fictional person that represents your target audience. It embodies the characteristics, interests, and goals of your ideal client.

You give them a name, a background, and understand all their pain points and life goals.

Customer personas help you reframe your messaging and marketing to the customers’ perspective – connecting with them on a deeper level and turning them into paying, repeat clients as a result. 

Sounds amazing? It is.

So, how do you create a customer persona? Check out these five steps to create your customer personas and get better results from your marketing efforts.

1. Do thorough audience research

When you’re creating accurate customer personas, you should always base it on real-world data, not just your gut instinct.

You might think your target market is a certain demographic, but with no data to back that up, how can you be sure? If your customer personas are off, your messaging and marketing will be too – and you won’t connect with your audience.

Take the time to learn everything you can about your audience – current clients or preferred future clients.

Ask for real insight into where they get their current services from (and why). Learn who they are, what they do for a living, where they live, how old they are, their other buying habits – all that in-depth info that will help you truly understand what they’re looking for.

Take the time to learn everything you can about your audience – current clients or preferred future clients. Do some questionnaires and ask for real insight into where they get their current services (and why). Learn who they are, what they do for a living, where they live, how old they are, their other buying habits – all that in-depth info that will help you truly understand what they're looking for.

You can get this sort of information from a wide variety of places, including:

  • Asking! Customer surveys, questionnaires, your team members’ experiences – they all build a solid picture for you
  • Social media analytics
  • Google Analytics
  • Your customer database
  • Email marketing data

Now is not the time for Ouija board marketing tactics. You need solid stats and facts to base your company’s future on.

Use Ron Johnson’s massive failure of the JCPenney radical rebranding as a cautionary tale. Based on assumptions he made on his established customer base, he changed up a bunch of firm favorites, including:

  • The look and feel of stores
  • Replacing popular brands with ‘designer-inspired’ alternatives
  • Changing the complete sales model (goodbye coupons and markdowns, hello “everyday low prices”)

It was a disaster.

Sales collapsed within months of Johnson’s takeover.

The ultimate reason? Johnson admitted that he didn’t understand what his customers wanted.

Not gonna beat around the bush here – you might hear some difficult truths – but embrace them, accept honest feedback, and evolve and adapt your company into a stronger business from it.

2. Identify the pain points of your customers

What problems are your ideal customers running into? What are their fears? What’s holding them back from success? Why can’t they reach their goals?

These are all questions you should be asking yourself when figuring out your customers' pain points.

A great way to figure out your audiences' pain points is by conducting some social listening where you monitor social media platforms for any mention of your brand, your competitors, etc.

Monitoring helps you figure out what people are saying about your business and your industry. Hopefully, you can find out what struggles your audience is going through. Check forums, like Reddit and Quora, for what questions/complaints people are posting about your industry – you’ll get invaluable insight.

You can also undertake social media sentiment analysis to evaluate your audience's attitudes to see how they feel about your business. It allows you to determine whether your business is receiving negative or positive chatter on social media platforms.

Checking in with your customer services team is also a great idea when identifying your current customers' pain points. They can tell you what some of the most common compliments are and what the most common complaints are – you'll soon find out what's important to client satisfaction.

3. Identify your customers’ goals

Now onto the complete opposite of pain points: Identifying your customers' goals is an essential part of building any customer persona. If pain points are what you're trying to solve for your customer, then the goals are what you're trying to help them achieve.

So think about what motivates your customers, what’s their end game? These goals might relate directly to the service or product you provide, or they might just be there to help you set the right tone in your marketing.

Look outside of ‘I want to keep my floors cleaner for longer’ or  ‘I want to build a house’ – we’re talking about a deeper level of satisfaction in daily life.

What’s going on outside of ‘I want to keep my floors cleaner for longer’? Are they looking to reduce the amount of time they have to spend thinking about their floors? Do they have a thousand other ‘to-do’s on their list to deal with? Do they want to keep their bosses off their back?

Just like when you're figuring out pain points, social listening is a great way to determine your customers' goals.

Open a company-wide dialogue when creating customer personas.

Your sales team can also be a strong asset when finding out the goals of your customers. They might be able to provide insight into what your customers are looking for.

Ask your sales team for some quotes or information from your customers, as it might give you a deeper understanding of what your customers are trying to achieve in their lives.

These team members talk to your audience day in, day out, so they might have a better idea of what your clients are saying other than the C-suite.

4. Figure out how you help solve all that

Now that you’ve got your audience research under your belt, you should have an understanding of your ideal customers’ goals and pain points – so now it's time to figure out how you help make their lives better.

Don’t think about the features you offer but focus on the deeper benefits you give your customers. How do you help them reach their goals?

How do you actually help your clients, and how can you communicate that clearly? Think about what’s stopping your audience from making a purchase. How can you help them overcome that fear of committing?

You’re the solution to their problems, but how can you wrap that up in an easy-to-understand way?

5. Put together awesome customer personas

With your research done, it’s time to put it all together to create your customer personas. Take a look at the information you’ve gathered and put aside any common characteristics you see, such as similar jobs, location, age, or gender.

As you start to put together all the most common characteristics, you'll build your own unique customer personas.

Remember to give your customer persona a name too. It’s much easier to talk to ‘Jeff’ than it is ‘30-year-old man’.

So, when putting together your awesome customer persona, Jeff, make sure to include all the information you can about him. The more detailed you are, the easier it’ll be for you to get inside his headspace and figure out exactly how to market your content towards him.

Here at Branding and Beyond, we specialize in helping businesses like yours create amazing, effective brand strategies that connect perfect content with their ideal customers. Get in touch today, and we’ll help you figure out the perfect plan to attract more of your ideal customers to your business.

Tracy O’Shaughnessy Founder / Lead Brand Strategist of Branding & Beyond

Tracy and her team help B2B firms in the construction industry and professional services look and sound credible online and off.

She has been in the industry since the early '90s and is tired of great companies being treated as commodities and competing on price because they don't look and sound as credible as they really are.

You can find Tracy on Linkedin and here on this blog.