How to develop a target customer persona?

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Do you know who your target customer is? This is a question I ask people all the time and surprisingly many don’t know the answer. They have created a novel product or service but they don’t know who the product or service will serve. Or even worse they tell me “everyone is our ideal client!” Yikes. Good luck with that.

If you haven’t considered who your target or ideal customer is, you may have some more planning to do. This is a critical step in ensuring that your product or service meets the needs of your target.

The first thing you want to do is develop a persona or two. Don’t know what a persona is? No problem. A persona is a fictional character that you develop that would mirror what you believe would be an target customer for your product or service.

For example, say you have developed a software for bookkeeping for small businesses. Who do you think your target customer would be? I would say first and foremost, the business owner but then you get into the fact that some larger small businesses have someone who handles finances. Say a CFO or Head of Accounting.

To be more targeted you decide that your software is really good for small businesses with few employees as it’s very easy to use and can make a small business owner’s life lots easier. So let’s develop the persona for the business owner.

Example Persona

Name: Jill Smith
Age: 45
Income: $100,000
Location: Boston
Education: High School or Bachelors
Primary challenges: Staying in business
Secondary challenges: Simplifying her business
How do you help solve these problems?: Your software can help her better keep track of her finances while simplifying the amount of time needed to spend on her company’s finances.
Common objections: Cost, learning curve

This is a very rudimentary example but you get the picture. The more detailed this persona gets the better your understanding of your target customer and how your product or service helps them. You may get through this exercise and realize that who you thought was your ideal customer is in fact not. Better to happen now than when you go to market and start spending money on advertising.

Take the time and develop a detailed persona even if your product or service is a mass appeal business to consumer play. There will always be power users and you want to find them. Start with the basics:

Family (single or married)
Job title (if applicable)
Company size (if applicable)
Primary challenges
Secondary challenges
How you help solve these challenges?
Primary goals
Secondary goals
How you help achieve these goals?
Primary values
Common objections

If after building this persona out you don’t feel like your product or service matches the needs of your ideal customer you either need a different target customer or you need to change your product or service to meet their needs. Get this right in the beginning and it will pay big dividends in the end!

Cort Davies
Cort Davies
Cort believes that startups should get powerful, effective marketing advice along with practical and positive soft skills to give them the best chance to succeed.

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