In the last article in this series of ‘knowing your brand’ we looked at different brand attributes and how they can be used to define your company's brand. We then looked at defining the most important descriptor or phrase for each attribute in order to compile a statement of intent. This statement of intent succinctly defines what you want your organisation or company’s brand to be.
One of the key brand attributes you will have explored as a part of this process was your customers. This article is going to look at how you can delve deeper into this brand attribute creating detailed and realistic customer profiles which can be a great tool when you are designing services, products or marketing.
A customer profile is effectively a detailed description of a person who embodies a particular customer archetype which your company would like to target. The goal is to get as much realism into that customer's persona without directly describing someone you know. It’s also a good idea to create several different customer profiles to explore a few possible types of customer.
These can be fun to create and require a little imagination. It does unfortunately lean a little into stereotypes, try not to get too hung up on this (within reason). As it's your sector you should have a reasonable grasp of who your customer is and have some knowledge of their habits, age, income, etc. For new groups you may have to think about what assumptions you are making about them and where more research may be required for your particular organisation.
When creating a profile it’s helpful to give your customer a name! It needs to be realistic enough to be believable, but do not call them after someone you know. Yes you want them to be specific to an archetype, however if you narrow the profile down to one particular person it could become too niche. Alongside the name it’s helpful to label them with a description of the archetype you are building their persona around.
For Example they could be:
- Greg Pullen (the tech entrepreneur)
- Jen Parker-Smith (the middle class mummy blogger)
- Mina Abdullah (the working mum)
If it helps, you could also find a stock image or profile photo to help you visualise them more clearly.
Once you have established the persona you are building, the next step is to break them into four key areas:
This section of your customer profile covers the bare bones of their character. Think of the basic information you may put on your profile or what you might say as a very superficial way of describing yourself to someone.
Information you should try and include would be:
- Marital status and if they have any children
- Work status or career
- Where they live
- Have they got any additional needs?
- What transport do they use?
- If they own a car, what car do they drive?
- Do they have a smartphone?
If you wanted to go further you may add some detail about their immediate family members and which brands they may favour or where they may do their household shop.
Whilst including information such as income and interests has an obvious purpose, it may seem strange to think about a customer's car or preferred place to buy clothes. It is however often the case that these aspects of their life help build up an image of a person. A man in a Ted Baker suit driving a Porsche has a very different persona to a one in overalls driving a battered old Land Rover for example.
Once the bare bones of a customer’s life is established you can then start to pad out their narrative. Here is where you can really start to empathise with your customer and describe what their average day is like. This enables you to begin to inhabit their headspace and acquaint yourself with what it’s like in their shoes.
Some questions to consider are:
- Are they organised?
- Are they busy?
- What time do they get up in the morning?
- What time do they get home at night?
- What is their diet like?
- Do they have many responsibilities?
- Are they dependent on anything or anyone?
- Do they have time for themselves?
- How is the majority of their time spent?
- Are there any overriding emotions about any of these things?
Remember that this is supposed to be a realistic archetype, and therefore a run-of-the-mill day for someone who falls into that key demographic. So try not to get overly creative or start fabricating a dream world. As with the other areas realism is key. Keep in mind that although your business is important to you, it is likely only a small aspect of your persona’s life, so don’t try to relate every part and activity of their day to your business.
Once you have started building a concrete picture of their day it should help you to move onto the next part of their profile.
If the story you have created for your customer is realistic then there should be some obvious needs which you could aim to meet or problems that need solving for this individual to have a more happy and healthy life.
This is where you may want to start to tie it more into your services and what needs you can meet. It is important however that you focus on their needs, not on your solutions, and that these needs are informed by their story.
- A busy professional may need to access your services around their working hours.
- A single mum with young children may need some kind of child care or play area for her children.
- An exhausted shift worker may want straightforward and simple meals on the go.
It may be that there are some obvious needs which it is not immediately possible for you to reconcile as a company. Include these too. It may be that as you grow and expand as a company, or as you begin to think more creatively, a solution you had not thought of previously may become apparent, which will allow you to meet your customers’ needs in unexpected ways.
Recognising your customers’ unique core needs will give your business the edge and help make you stand out to those customers in particular. Once you have these needs defined you can then move on to solutions.
This is where you finally get to start problem solving for your customer.
How can you meet their needs? Try to think outside the box and don’t limit yourself to the services you currently offer. It may be that each need has a number of solutions. Take the example of the single mum in need of child care. It may be that:
- You can provide an online booking service for appointments so she knows exactly how long she will be and that she will definitely get served at that time allowing for her to organise childcare.
- Your space has an area to entertain children.
- You can offer flexible online services she can access on her phone at home, out of hours whilst the kids are asleep.
Your solutions should be realistic in terms of their feasibility but try to be creative. Treat this as a chance to get inspired and excited about how what you can do may really help your customer.
Creating these customer profiles can take time and thought, but the practice of using them can be invaluable. Once you have created each one, keep them readily available for your team to use. This way as you make decisions which will affect your customers you can ask yourself, ‘how would this work for Greg?’ It can be a hugely useful tool for making decisions that work for your client or customer rather then just yourself or your team who may be radically different in taste, knowledge and needs in comparison with your customer.
In the next article in this series we will be looking at Prioritised Goals how you can apply some of the insights that you have uncovered in this article to create targets for your companies future.
In the meantime if you have enjoyed learning more about customer profiles and are intrigued to know more we offer a range of workshops where you can work through guided exercises.
We offer group workshop alongside other business owners, giving you the opportunity to network and ideate together as well as work through the exercises with one of our branding team. You can find any upcoming workshop details on our Eventbrite page.
Or you may wish to consider one of our one on one business workshops. This is perfect for businesses who want to explore these branding exercises further entirely around their own context and stake holders. With all members of your team getting involved in the exercises, you will get more input creating better results.