An experienced small business owner or marketer knows how important it is to know your customers. Especially if you want to be successful in creating and marketing products or services to them. Unfortunately, too many entrepreneurs develop a product and corresponding marketing ideas that appeal to themselves, rather than those that appeal to ideal customers.
If this is you, it is time to step back and find out who your customers really are (and just as important — who they aren’t). Here are five steps to help you get started.
Start with research.
You shouldn’t create your ideal customer persona based solely on your own feelings and opinions. You have to conduct research to understand who they really are. Start simple. Send out a survey or interview people who you think are your target market. Next, look at conversations taking place on social media platforms to understand what people care about around any given topic or category. Then use this information to build out customer personas.
Give findings a personality.
After you’ve gathered customer research, sit down and pull out the major trends and notable findings about your key audience (or audiences). Use these findings to create characters to represent your core customers. Give each person a name and write a biography about him or her. Ideally, you’ll also want to find a photo to represent each character (we like to use stock photography sites like iStock and BigStock).
Create private Pinterest boards to build personas.
Pinterest will let you create up to three secret boards so that your pins won’t be shared with those who follow you. I recommend setting up a separate board for each persona or character you create. Start by pinning the photo that represents your character, along with a brief bio in the “description” section. Next, find photos to represent all of the activities, products, foods, colors and other things that would draw in or inspire your character.
Revisit the Pinterest board for inspiration.
Once you’ve pinned 20 or more items to your board, take a step back and take a look at it. Are there any colors or design elements that you see across the board that represent or appeal to this character? Are there any other themes that will shape how you communicate with them?
Put your persona photos somewhere where you’ll see them often.
Print the main character photos out and put them by your workspace. Use them as the background for your computer. Do whatever you have to do to remind yourself each and every day that you are marketing to real, individual people rather than a mass crowd.
From now on, every time you go to do, write or create anything, take a look at each persona and make a point to create for him or her. By getting to know your audience on a more personal level and constantly reminding yourself that you’re marketing to individuals, you’ll be able to keep yourself and your company on track for success.
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