Any experienced business owner or marketer knows that you have to know your customers inside and out if you want to be successful at building and marketing products or services to them. Unfortunately, too many of us come up with product and marketing ideas that appeal toÂ ourselves,Â rather thanÂ product and marketing ideas that appeal to our ideal customers. Itâs time to step back and dig in to find out who your customers really are (and just as important â who theyÂ aren’t). Here are five steps to get you going:
1. Start with research.
Again, you shouldn’t be creating your ideal customer persona based solely on your own feelings and opinions. You have to do some research to understand who they really are. Simply send out a survey or interview people who you think are in your target market. At my company, Loudpixel, we like to look at conversations taking place on social media platforms to understand what people care about around any given topic or category. We then use this information to build out our personas.
2. Give your findings a personality.
After youâve gathered your 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 audiences. Give each person a name and write a biography about him or her. Ideally, youâll also want to find a photo to represent each character. We like to use stock photography sites likeÂ iStockÂ andÂ BigStockÂ to find these photos.
3. Create a private Pinterest board to build your characters.
Pinterest will let you create up to three secret boards so that your pins wonât 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 âdescriptionâ section. Next, find photos to represent all of the activities, products, foods, colors and other things that would draw in or inspire your character.
4. Revisit the Pinterest board often for inspiration.
Once youâve 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?
5. Put your persona photos somewhere where youâll 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 youâre marketing to individuals, youâll be able to keep yourself and your company on track for success.
Allie Siarto is the co-founder ofÂ Loudpixel, a social media market research company. Rather than relying on expensive, time-consuming surveys or focus groups, Loudpixel’s technology and team help companies better understand their customers and market by analyzing social media conversations that are already taking place each day. Allie recently published her first book on social media monitoring and analysis called “The Social Current.” This post first appeared onÂ StartupCollective,Â a free virtual mentorship programme by Citi andÂ Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC).