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My Imaginary Friends

This post is written for Mike, Jenny and Pete. No, they are not my kids, dearly departed friends or even close family but they are very important to me and I know them intimately. There is a little bit of you in one, two or all three of them. Mike, Jenny and Pete are the stars in my Customer Persona outlines and they don’t actually exist in the real world at all.

It is essential when we are intending to spend time, energy or hard cash on marketing that we do it effectively. No matter what media we use to talk to our customers, it needs to be remembered that we are trying to communicate with humans … yes even in a B2B context. Customer Personas are one of the most useful bits of work you can do. Based on a mixture of hard data, experience and basic intuition, they are a detailed description of typical people who you do business with.

If your business is trading you are likely to think that you know who your customers are. But have you actually considered how the other parts of their life, that you presently don’t touch, can be affected by your business and vice versa? The very act of creating the persona will allow your imagination to pick holes in your own product or service offering; it will allow you to better understand the context your client is in when your mutual worlds touch. Most importantly, in the planning phase of any campaign, it allows you and your team to direct your efforts at a few individuals rather than trying to appeal to each of the 150,000 people your media plan will ‘reach’.

Biggest Mistake? The most common is not to go deep enough into the persona’s background. “Jenny is a C1/C2 female with two kids and a husband” is of some use … but not much. A good example will cover off three main areas in some detail:

  • Who is He/She – include their attitudes to life, general mindset and their life aims and goals. Make them give you a quote that sums it all up.

  • How do they interact with my business? – what are the behavioural drivers (‘has time on their hands’ or ‘needs to de-stress’ etc.)? What is their mindset when they encounter or need my product and what are their obstacles or objections to us?

  • Value to my business? - What is the average cost to them of the interaction and our margin on it? Will they be likely to repeat purchase? Will they be an advocate?

Time spent on Customer Personas is rarely wasted but keep it down to no more than 5 profiles. In addition, these will be used as the basis of your Value Proposition and all the Customer Journey work that you should seriously consider doing on a regular basis – more posts to follow on these later.

If you would like to see some great examples of Customer Personas, feel free to contact me through my website and I will gladly send you some.

Have fun with your new best friends!

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