I know what you’re thinking. You don’t have time to sit down and work out a detailed buyer persona right now. You roughly know what your customers want so why bother?

But if you want to attract the ideal customer you need to know what the ideal customer wants, what they need, what frustrates them, what delights them, and where they go to get their information.

Once you have a fully formed customer persona, your business marketing story will start resonating, attracting, and converting bland personas into buyers!!

Take Amazon as an example. They aren’t the world’s biggest company for nothing. Their ‘One-Click’ feature was designed because they understood their customer. They knew that their worst enemy was an abandoned cart caused by a customer’s procrastination, dithering or short attention spans. By removing all the barriers to purchase, One-Click transformed their sales.

If you have a fully formed set of customer personas that detail what they want and need, where they go for information, and what makes them tick you will transform your marketing efforts.

Who is your customer? 

I ask clients this question at the start of every discovery call or strategy planning. 

  • Who is your customer right now? 

  • Who is your ideal customer? 

  • What would your worst customer look like? 

Without that information, I don’t how to start a marketing conversation. I don’t know what words to use, what platforms to use, or what style of graphics to design. 

I can’t write social copy, websites, blog posts, marketing materials. 

To attract the perfect customer, you need to know who your perfect customer is. The customer who will buy everything you make or offer and sing your praises to their followers and friends.

So who is your customer?

Don’t say, everyone. I think only Amazon can say that. And, yes, potentially anyone COULD buy your product, but anyone won’t. 

It will be a particular person from a particular demographic with a particular need. 

It will be a particular person in a particular department who will have the purchasing decision. 

It will be Jill from HR who is given the task of organizing all employee birthday gifts and who just wants to automate it and outsource it and to have someone else pick something appropriate.

It will be Gavin who works in admin for an established solicitors company that doesn’t use social media, but have trade magazines and attend local events and needs to book a function that will wow their clients.

These are the real people you need to get to know.

If you are basing your customer personas on gut instinct rather than actual research then you are missing a trick. You need to find out exactly what makes your customer tick.  You need to know them INSIDE and OUT!!!!

What are the benefits of knowing your customer’s inside and out?

By understanding what your ideal customer wants, needs, how they behave, how they purchase, you’ll be able to build a loyal customer base. 

Once you know, then everything you do will be tailored to that perfect customer. The perfect customer who will ideally buy everything you create and according to Kevin Kelly, you just need 1,000 true fans to make your business.

Once you know your true customer, when you talk to them, you will be addressing unmet desires, answering their fundamental frustrations, and providing them with a solution that fits them perfectly.

You will be giving them what the competition is not. 

You will be offering them more. More value that TRULY speaks to them, whether that is better personalisation, better service, or a better product.

Your entire brand’s make-up, marketing materials, customer conversations, and interactions should be built upon those customer personas. 

How do you create a customer persona? 

You can start by just trying to imagine what they want and write that all down, but it’s hard to know if you are just projecting what you think onto that blank hypothetical mannequin/womaquin. 

So here are some practical actions you can do to turn that blank mannequin of a customer to life!!! (80s movie reference sorry)

Customer review / forum mining

Customer review mining is definitely one of my favourite ways of finding out what customers want and how they feel about particular products/services. 

It can reveal hidden benefits or reasons for purchasing that you may never have thought about.

For example, in a quick content analysis, I did of reviews for an ambient glowing diffuser, quite a few customers talk about how they use it as a night light for kids, or to get rid of that SMELL in their teenager’s room – I bet the manufacturer didn’t realise that that is how people would use the product!

Another example is refurbished computers. For this client, I looked at over a hundred customer reviews and found that environmental reasons were not actually the driving cause for purchase, but instead, wanting a back-up or providing a laptop for elderly parents so they could speak to grandchildren was actually more common. 

You can also uncover what your customers want and need in bad reviews too.

If you want to structure your analysis, try running content analysis in Excel.

  1. Copy and paste reviews into individual cells in Excel or Google Sheets (which is free and online by the way and works just like Excel)
  2. Now add a new column A (label it Category) and go through each comment and write a category that describes each review
  3. Now go through all your categories and try and group them together
  4. Once you are happy with your groupings highlight your data and go to Insert>Pivot Table 
  5. Choose New Worksheet > Ok
  6. In your PivotTable Field window click and drag “Category” into rows
  7. Now click and drag “Category” into Values. This should display as “Count of Category”
  8. The pivot table will show you the frequency of your categories. 
  9. Just click on a number in your category to see those particular comments in more detail
  10. You can also select your pivot chart and go to Insert > Charts and show your data as a bar chart

An easier way is to use a word cloud engine. This just takes your text and looks for word frequency. 

All you need to do is copy and paste some text into a word cloud and see what the most dominant words are.

Try WorditOut or WordArt.

 However, use with caution, as often it’s those that shout the loudest that tend to write reviews and you may not get a picture of those quieter customers. 

Facebook Group boards

Look for Facebook Groups in your industry or region. There are plenty of regional small business groups that are open to new joiners.

Once you have been admitted to the group you can then search posts and comments to see what problems people are facing. 

Just click on the group and then the magnifying search icon and type “I need help” and search. Or try “help with”, “advice on”, “does anybody know.” This can be a goldmine of information.

Or be direct and just ask the group some questions. People are always willing to help.

LinkedIn Groups

Joining related industry group or sector LinkedIn Group is a great way to network online, but also to see what content is engaging customers. Does your potential customer prefer text, graphics, promotional, or video?

Once you are on the group feed, the search bar will display “Search for posts in this group.” 

You can now search within the group posts for any useful content that will give you more insight into your potential customers.

Find your ‘key buyer’ persona on Linkedin

Your main ‘buyer’ may not actually be the head of the company, but another employee. By looking up a rival company, finding their employees, and then finding a Linkedin profile similar to your potential buyer you can learn a lot. 

  • What content do they like and share? 

  • What events are they interested in?

  • What do they comment on? 

  • What do they post? 

  • Find out what companies and groups they follow to give you an idea of where they get their information

Start a Twitter Chat

In this day and age, going out and vox-popping potential customers, or just calling people on the phone just isn’t going to work, and unless you can pay people to take part in a Zoom focus group, what can you do?

How about inviting existing customers or prospects to join you on a Twitter Chat. 

Just click on Lists > Create New > Choose a name > Add a header image > Click Next > then add people you want to chat with.

You can also join live Twitter chats and check out what people are interested in. See if there are local business chat groups in your area. Usually, big cities have specific times and days where they host a #belfasthour #liverpoolhour #kenthour to do online networking.

Send a survey

For your existing customers, why not try sending them a link to a short survey to complete.

Survey Monkey allows you to create really quick and easy surveys that you can also link with your email marketing provider. 

I recently did this for a customer and we were rewarded with a host of great feedback that could be repurposed as testimonials for their website and social media, but also uncovered some frustrations that they had that the business had not even realised.

Try integrating Survey Monkey with your email marketing provider like Mailchimp to analyse your data.

Check out your competitors

Do a bit more comment mining in your competitor’s feeds.

What sort of things are their followers discussing, or retweeting, or sharing on Facebook?

What negative comments are customers making on Google Reviews or Tripadvisor?

What have they said are their frustrations, That’s a great way to discover what annoys them about a similar product or service. 

It’s also a great way of discovering what makes you different and another trait for your customer persona.

Run a poll on social media

Polls are addictive on social media. I often find myself answering the most bonkers of questions. 

On stories, you can easier create quick polls. You can make it really simple by asking people to pick between two images or ask a series of questions to get to know your customer base better.

Stalk yourself

If you want to find out what other people are saying about your brand, or your products, then you can try online software like Keyhole or Semwatch.

These are paid for services, but if you are a large organisation it’s a quick way to find out where your brand or your brand keywords are being mentioned across the entire internet.

Host an experience – live

It’s hard to hold any sort of event right now, but there’s nothing stopping you from inviting people to a live! Try hosting a Facebook or IG live and inviting questions and feedback.

Run a competition in return for feedback

You could offer a discount code or free item in return for a phone call for feedback on your product or service. 

Your buyer persona template

Once you’ve collated all this valuable insight, you want to start adding it into a customer/buyer persona template that you can refer to – ALL THE TIME!

Here’s an example I mocked up. This is for a corporate gift company and their ideal customer is an Admin Assistant in Financial Services.

I start off with some basic demographics. This helps establish the main character’s features. Their age, background and education, and what their role is.

Next, I like to add detail about what they like and what they don’t like. Hopefully, you gathered this from their social media feeds or reading customer reviews.

Also, add in some points around their personality and how they like to talk.

Add in a photo if it helps to retain this customer persona in your mind.

Next fill in details about their role. What is their actual position and who do they influence, clash with, impress?

Next, fill in details about what scares them, frustrates them and what challenges they face now and in the future.

What are they aiming for? In their role? In life? And what do they wish for? I always wish for more time, or that the washing up was instantly done.

This is an important one for your marketing strategy. Finding out where they get their information. Is it word of mouth? Is it from their friends? Their social media feeds? Magazines? TV? Facebook and only Facebook? Where do they hang out?

Finally, understanding their behaviours and technological skill sets can help you tailor your marketing approach.

Get an editable customer persona template to help you start understanding your ideal customer here.