One of the most important parts of running a successful business is by figuring out your ideal buyer persona, this in short is a fictional representation of your ideal customer.
However before you think about your ideal customer, and their story you need to think about yourself and your brand. You should consider the following four questions:
- What inspired you to start your business?
- What does your main product offer your customer / what need does it fulfil?
- What are the drawbacks of your product?
- Why is your product better than other options already available?
It is recommended that you have 2-3 buyer personas to start off with, this is so you can redefine and experiment with which one if the best fit for your company and this will help with future marketing / content creation / product development. It also allows you to A/B testing your audience to make sure you’re targeting the proper customers. This will also help when setting audiences on places like Facebook advertising.
Please note, there may be more then one answer to the questions below, and that’s okay! Each customer will be different but this will give you a good idea for *most* of your customers. You may also be thinking “but who do I know that?”, the only answer here is RESEARCH, I will provide a ‘case study’ below to give you an idea of how you can research this.
Before creating the person target audience you need to consider the following questions: What does you product / service do for your ideal customer? What problem of theirs does it solve? How does your product make your customers life easier?
Demographic / External Factors — Who Are They? Are they Male / Female / Both? What is their age? What would a daily life in their shoes look like? Are they single / married? Do they have children? Are they social / introverted?
Industry / Job Title — What kind of job do they have? Are they in a particular industry? What is their annual income?
Location — Where do they live? This can be super specific if you’re a bricks and mortar shop or general like ‘United Kingdom’
Goals — What are their aspirations in life? Do they have any responsibilities? What are their dreams?
Hobbies / Taste — What do they do in their spare time? What is their favourite book? Favourite restaurant? Music they listen to? TV shows they might watch (GBBO, X-Factor, Love Island etc). This is a HUGE section but probably the most relevant, it will seriously help you with content planning for your social media. This is also an ever evolving section and will change depending on their time of year / the year itself. What does your customer like?
Communication — Where can you find your audience hanging out? (Instagram? Pinterest? Facebook? Etc)
Behaviour — How / Where do they shop? How much are they willing to pay for items?
Your Role - What role do you have in their story / buying habits
Each one of these sections are just as important as the other and when brought together will give you a really clear idea of who your customer is and how you can help them. The pickier you are with the answers the better results you’ll get, by being picky you can control your business and exclude anyone you don’t want to work with, instead of trying to please everyone. How refreshing does that sound?
The best way to look at your target audience is to see it as one customer, rather than an audience. Think about one persons life which will fit perfectly into your business model, even give them a name! If you see it as a story, your customer is the protagonist / hero and you’re the story teller. Your brand is there to guide the hero along his/her journey, you’re assisting them to their final destination.
As you’re the story teller you can decide who and how your customer operates in your business, so although they are the main focus, character wise, you have complete control over how they develop in your business. Without defining your audience you are creating the opportunity to invite all into your business and do whatever they like in your story, even the bad guys could creep in and no one wants that.
To help develop your target audience more, look at your competitors. To do this, google your main product / service and look at the first 5 businesses that comes up - make sure that these are relevant, as sometimes paid ones / eBay style ones won’t have the right audiences as their offering is too broad.
When on your competitors websites, have a look to see why they appeared at the top, you can use this tool, Alexa, that compares the websites for you, if you scroll down (after signing up for the free trial) you will see information about the URLs you’ve entered. This can help you compare what is similar about all websites you’ve selected.
However, you can easily do this manually by just looking at what products / photographs and blog posts the website is offering. Make a note of this audience, screw it up and put it in the bin, because there is NO point trying to target the same people as these, you need to find a new story to tell with a new protagonist.
Now go back to those topics I mentioned early and reconsider how you could create a target audience that puts itself in a brand new niche that no one else is looking at right now. It could be as simple as targeting females instead of males or adjusting the ages slightly. You don’t need to do a whole new audience, just part of it.
Create an actual story about your customer, write it down, print it out and then apply it to all your content marketing strategies from now on. Whether you’re writing a blog post, social media post, description for a product you can thing back to your customer and how this is helping them to process in their own story. For reference I have attached the character story for my other business The Back Up Shop:
Sophia is a 20-something female, a recent home owner and in the need for those cosy nights in. She has experienced her ‘wild drinking’ days and wants to start settling down. She works as a full time sales assistant in the United Kingdom, she likes her job, but doesn’t love it, and definitely lives for Fridays. She spends her spare time looking at interior design ideas on Pinterest and shopping online, from the comfort of her own home. A semi introvert / extrovert she loves occasionally meeting people but also loves me time, if she was being honest with herself, she prefers me time more than she lets on.
Her goals in life are to have a stable income, have a family and be surrounded by nice things. She loves a bit of DIY but nothing too extreme, knitting or making concrete pots to put in her house are fine, but not putting shelves up or making Ikea furniture.
One day she would like to find her dream job, but isn’t fussed if that takes a while, as for now she wants to focus on happiness outside the work place. Her job is fine, she loves her co-workers and can regularly be found having dinner with them or a drink or two.
Her favourite TV shows consist of GBBO (who doesn’t love a bit of competitive baking?!), Strictly Come Dancing and Game of Thrones. She has however recently discovered the Netflix sensation Marie Kondo and now wants to up her organisational game (another reason to spend hours on Pinterest).
A real sucky for all things pretty, Sophia loves finding personalised beautiful gifts to give to her friends and family but also loves treating herself. Her favourite colours are Blush Pink, Grey and Navy - very trendy!
Although Sophia loves nice things, she never has a massive budget, specially since becoming a home owner so looks for affordable luxury and will happily save for something a little more expensive. If she can do it herself, she will give it a good go but understands that somethings should be left to the experts. On instagram she follows all the interior design gurus and DIY accounts to see if she can make her home as perfect as she pictures in her mind.
She isn't massively into trendy items, you won’t find the latest gin or flamingo products in her house, but she can appreciate colour trends and accessories that are easy to replace. She also likes being able to reuse items (got to look after the environment, after all!) so will regularly find uses for her old tins / candles holders / fabric etc - this is where her love of DIY comes in.
Sophia isn’t a fan of clutter and likes everything to look like it belongs.
When out and about you will find Sophia in all the high street names, but also loves a little look at some Indie shops, Winchester High Street is her favourite place to visit if she goes shopping, but also loves places like Brighton. When she gets hungry you can find her in Subway (if she needs a quick bite) or if she has time GBK, she never opts for the high-end restaurants as they are usually out of her price range.
She is what you would consider a low-key kind of female, she likes pretty things but isn’t over the top with it and likes everything to look just right. An occasionally blog reader and podcast listener, she prefers comedy over politics and steers clear of anything too opinionated.
Sophia is currently looking for personalised home gifts to share with her friends and family.
To help you plan this, I have created a worksheet for you to put all your ideas down on, join my facebook group here to get access to it.