Use Personas to
Better Target your Customer Base
Gather and Analyze Customer Data
One of the most common recommendations you hear as a business is, “Get to know your customer.”
And as businesses continue to take the steps necessary to do so, they often lose sight of one of the most important components, knowing who their target market is.
In order to know who your target market is, you need to evaluate your customer base. To help you better evaluate, there are three important frameworks to consider:
- Customer Personas
- Customer Archetypes
- Customer Segments.
Customer Persona’s are public images presented to the world in contrast to their real character. They are characters that can be created based on research your company has made of real customers. Persona’s should be created to help your company understand what your customers’ needs, behaviors, experience desires, and future goals are.
Think of it as the way an author creates characters for a novel. A character in a novel is involved in a storyline and the job of the author is to take us through that character’s journey throughout the story. Consider yourself as the author and your customer journey map as the storyline of the novel. They can be visual representations of your ideal customer or of a customer you don’t want to have.
The same way authors create character archetypes for their stories, you can differentiate your character creation. Because you may have different demographics of users, it is wise to create different persona types to represent all of the people that use your product or service.
Keep in mind, persona’s should be created based on information gathered and analyzed from actual customers. This helps give more detailed “personal” information for a character that is being created based on hypotheticals.
Customer Archetypes are theories based on principles that interpret the social understandings of your ideal customer. In literature, an archetype is a character that represents a pattern of human nature. The same goes for Customer Archetypes in business strategy. Archetypes represent patterns of consumer nature that focus primarily on the behaviors of your ideal customers and the relationships they would build with your business and with certain products.
This strategy is important because it can help differentiate the types of customers your business will encounter. Every customer is a different type of consumer. Knowing what type of consumer each customer is will help you create effective marketing strategies for each one.
Customer Segmentation is a method used to break up your clientele base into groups based on common attributes. By doing this, you allow your team to create ways to market to each group appropriately and effectively based on their distinctions. This strategy is important for many reasons. Segmenting can improve your customer retention and acquisition costs.
Your product or services may vary which means your user base will vary as well. Knowing how to market products to a specific group helps cut marketing costs by eliminating wasted attempts at reaching groups that aren’t interested. Knowing what groups to reach also helps cut costs when seeking new opportunities through market penetration. In order to begin, you need to understand the different ways you can segment your market.
Customer Persona vs Archetype
There are a lot of misconceptions that Customer Personas and Customer Archetypes are the same thing. They’re not. While both rely on the creation of a fictional character based on patterns and both are created to represent real people, the two are not to be confused.
Customer Personas are represented from an external perspective. They are meant to depict consumer needs. They are models of real consumers with specific “lifestyles” that influence specific needs, wishes, and pain points. Their lifestyle is meant to portray day to day interests that may encounter real problems in need of solutions.
Their personality traits create patterns of behavior, attitude, and motivation that allow businesses to focus on creating more recommendations for other possible problems. For example, a consumer who has a problem may purchase an item to solve it only to glance at the “frequently bought together” section and realize there are more solutions for other problems they didn’t know they had.
Archetypes represent an internal perspective. They are models of real consumers meant to depict visions and attitudes. They represent what the desires and aspirations are for consumers. You have consumers that have a need to affiliate themselves with certain brands or products to enhance the image of the character they portray.
A consumer who portrays itself as outgoing and fun may relate more towards certain brands and products while a consumer who portrays itself as introvertive and laid back may relate towards others. These internal perspectives also give cues as to what type of consumer they are and knowing this offers direction towards how they will think, act and behave. Their aspirations could be frequent, consistent, or occasional which allows businesses to recommend offers accordingly.
Creating the Persona
Information for creating persona’s can be gathered using surveys, interviews, direct feedback, and indirect feedback such as social media threads. Gather from multiple sources so that the characteristics vary and aren’t oversaturated. Be sure to categorize the characteristics accordingly so you’re able to create multiple persona’s but not so many that they become hard to track.
Things to keep in mind when creating a Customer Persona:
- Try to create as realistic as possible (give a name, age, and location)
- Integrate as many personality traits as you can (occupation and income)
- List what their interests and behaviors are (what they do for fun and how do they stay connected)
- Create motivational traits (document their lifestyle)
- Document what influences enhance their behaviors and the frustrations they face (what do they want/need and what problems do they face getting there)
When creating persona’s, try to focus on empathy. Make sure your persona’s help your business connect with customers by gathering insight to what their emotional and social needs are. Be more specific with your persona’s so you can step into their shoes and understand their motivations. Use persona’s to comprehend the customer’s perspective and interpret what they hear, see, think and feel.
When building characters of your ideal customers, archetypes are used to bring characters to life by giving meaning to a narrative based on gathered data. The archetype is meant to give us insight to what the characters hopes and dreams are. From a consumer standpoint, it identifies the customers urges and objectives.
Examples of Archetypes:
- Social Opportunists – Consumers who infrequently purchase items. Tend to research endlessly for the best deal available. Consume on a need-to basis.
- Weekend Enthusiasts – Make purchases regularly and consistently. They are motivated by deals but not inclined to purchase if there are none available. Purchase to maintain an image portrayed.
- Traditional Lifestylers – Purchase frequently. A deal will not urge them to purchase because they are already loyalists to the brand and will buy the product regardless. Consumption is in their habit.
Archetypes can be created in many ways and can vary based on your industry, the type of clients you serve, and the characters you’re trying to depict. When creating archetypes, be sure to envision the interpretations of the subconscious choices your customers as consumers will have and the way you want your products to be perceived.
Where to Begin Segmenting
Deciding what type of market segment you want to group your customers in can be complex. You’ll want to have an idea of the information you’re trying to gather, the type of customers you want to learn about, and the scope of the problems you’re looking to solve. After all, the purpose of segmenting is to understand how different customers will respond to certain marketing strategies.
Common ways to segment your customer base:
- Geographic – Varies based on local, national, or international business types. Depending on your scope of access, geographic segments can pertain to cities, counties, states, or countries.
- Demographic – Based on traits such as gender identity, age, occupation, education, income, and marital status.
- Psychographic – Based on classification of clients attitudes and aspirations such as social class, lifestyle, personality, and interests.
- Behavioural – Based on consumer behaviours such as spending habits, consumption habits, features and benefits desired, and frequency of product/service usage.
Suggestions on how to begin:
- Conduct research – Read feedback, view social media comments and reach out to customers directly with survey requests in order to gather enough information to a segment.
- Choose a segmentation strategy – Decide which segments will deliver the best data for the information you are trying to gather and the questions you need answering. If you feel your location may be affecting business then focus on Geographic. If you feel your branding may appeal to lifestyle enthusiasts then focus on Psychographic.
- Customize your data retrieval – Design your surveys specifically for the segment you’re targeting. Don’t be afraid to combine questions meant for other segments as this can broaden your responses. You want to maximize your opportunities with each respondent by collecting as much quantitative data as possible.
- Gather and Organize your data – You can retrieve and categorize segment information manually or by using software. When organizing, be sure to separate your segments so that they are all distinctive and different from one another. Segments that are similar in interests should be grouped together to avoid having too many.
- Test and Evaluation your segments – Make sure the data you’ve collected for a segment serves its purpose. If a market segment is not providing the information needed, try another segment. Using a Demographic approach may not provide the responses you’re looking for because they may be too broad. In that case you may want to try using a Psychographic approach.
When testing and evaluating, make sure you ask yourself these questions:
Do these segments give you enough information to allow you to track and measure sales?
For example, is a certain group going to be more keen to respond and purchase your product with as much consistency as another?
Does the collection of data from these segments give you insight on how to access their interest?
For example, will certain groups be motivated to purchase because of direct email offers as opposed to a billboard or printed ad that announces a sale?
Do your identified segments have the ability to purchase from you?
For example, if your business focuses on selling exclusive products, can you expect customers to still purchase from you and not be dissuaded by their inability to afford the product even though they are interested?
Tying it all together
It is very important to know who your target customers are. Customer Segmentation, Persona’s, and Archetypes are all useful tools to help evaluate your customers. Choosing a framework to begin gathering information can be overwhelming but the key is not just deciding which one to choose. Analyze your position, understand the pain points, and know what you want to accomplish. Then you can select the framework that is best suited for the problems you are trying to solve.
Want to get started?
Download our free guide on creating Customer Personas
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