Understanding your target audience - their makeup, needs and motivators - is one of the first things you need to get to grips with when developing your company. At FGC's ninth panel of this year, Lisa Roolant of Beyond and Sharmadean Reid of WAH London talked us through what a user profile is, discussed their own customer experiences and presented a live demo on how to personally draft profiles for your business. For those who missed it or need a little refresher, we've saved all the details for you.
1. GET TO KNOW YOUR CUSTOMER!
“With personas, you have to be specific. You can’t be wishy washy.” - Sharmadean Reid, WAH London.
THE WHO, WHAT, WHY WHERE! One of the first things you should be doing when developing your business is to figure out who you are designing your company for. To do so, you need to get to know your audience and understand who they are, what they want and how you can help them. As such, you should be able to answer the following questions:
- Where do they hang out, what platforms do they use and what do they do in their down time?
- What music do they listen to? What gigs do they go to?
- Who are their role models? Who do they aspire to be?
- Do they have disposable cash? Are they working or are they students?
- Do they have their own family?
- Do they live at home?
- Where are they spending time online?
- What's their education level?
- What's their motivation to engage with your product/service?
GET ONLINE! If you find yourself struggling to answer these questions, go on social media and find real examples. People are putting so much data about themselves out into the public, so you can comb through Instagram or Twitter in order to get a deeper understanding of that individual - rather than guessing, getting it wrong and wasting time and money!
2. LOOK FOR PATTERNS!
"Serve a few people 100 percent, rather than lots of people 50 percent.” - Sharmadean Reid, WAH London.
GROUP TOGETHER! Ensure that when you start creating your customer personas, they are based off patterns across several different people and not just on one single individual. Just because you or one other person likes something doesn't mean you need to include it. If your data is replicated across more people, you'll know it's reliable.
DRILL DOWN! When researching about your target audience, it can be tempting to include all the information you find out about them but trying to cram everything into one project and please everyone is counter productive, especially in the beginning stages of your business. Be strict in excluding certain types of people because it's imperative that you figure out who your company is for and who it's not for.
3. CREATE A DECK!
“[User Profiles are] such a simple concept that often gets overlooked.”- Lisa Roolant, Beyond.
START PROFILING! It might take some time to fully understand who your customers are but one of the things you can do to help this process is create a spreadsheet. Once you've identified your market, collated their information and noted patterns, you can start actually crafting a deck with these user profiles. This sort of profiling will assist you in predicting your users' behaviours when interacting with your company.
GET PERSONAL! Give each persona a real name, like Rachel or Phoebe. You could even put them in categories, like The Fashionista or The Creative. Include age ranges, if necessary, but ensure they stay within five years. Grouping together 18-30 years olds is too big a range. Also, try to differentiate your die hard fans from your peripherals, and be mindful of how they influence each other.
4. JOURNEY TOGETHER!
"Get as much feedback as you can at every single point.” - Lisa Roolant, Beyond.
GOOD COMMUNICATION = BETTER RELATIONSHIPS! It’s important to stay tight with your customers at all times because you need to understand what they really want, rather than just going off your gut. Even after you've created your user profiles, remember to check in with your audience regularly and ask for feedback, whether on product schemes, new campaigns, etc... Create a Whatsapp or Facebook group where you can quickly chat to your users and ask their opinion on aspects on your product/service. Don't underestimate the power of a coffee meet-up or going for dinner with your customers in order to get them talking about your company. All your early communication with your customers should feel conversational and inclusive.
DON'T PERFECT, ITERATE! While it might feel uncomfortable to show your customers unfinished or unperfected plans, getting their input can help you create something that they will actually invest into. Otherwise, you risk making something that no one will buy. Keeping in regular contact with them allows you to iterate by understanding what issues each client has, how you can help solve them and what strategies you can put put into place to support the client through the different stages of their lives. Thus, you create repeat customers that are interested in your business for the long-term,
5. ADD VALUE!
“If you put your customer at the forefront of everything you do, you’ll never be stuck for ideas.” -Sharmadean Reid, WAH London.
GET WITH THE PROGRAMME! Now that you have all your user information in place and an effective feedback loop set up, you can start to brainstorm how you are going to best serve your customers. By understanding what is going on in their lives, you can plan for the best services to help them or plot out a calendar for promotional campaigns. User personas are also incredibly important to cashflow forecasting because you can start to value how much that customer is worth to your company.
TAKE IT TO THE TEAM! Personas are also a great way for getting your whole team on the same page about who your products or services are for, as well as acting as a training guide for future hires too. Use them to check that your employees actually understand who the customer is and how they need to engage with them.
1. Once you know your personas and you have your business idea, do you have any other suggestions of ways to engaging them?
“Get in their shoes!” - Lisa Roolant, Beyond.
If you have tailored your product and your content to your users, when you put it out into the world they should come. If you get to know your users inside out, you’ll be able to give them what they need. As long as you keep it consistent, there shouldn’t be the need for a big sell.
2. Is it a good idea to have lots of user profiles?
“Just choose the person that’s going to be the influential person in your group.” - Sharmadean Reid, WAH London.
It’s actually counter productive to have too many profiles because you’ll end up designing a product or service that is more generalist rather than for your core target user. Don’t forget that people tend to choose products because others have chosen it, so your target audience might influence their friends to also take some interest in your brand.
3. How do I appeal to everyone but equally appeal to the person I want?
“Only appeal to the girl that you want, the others will come.” - Sharmadean Reid, WAH London.
You want to perfect for the one person before rolling it out to others. You want your first customers to love your product 100 percent. Keep testing and iterating because until you have perfected everything about your product, you don’t want so many customers that you can't handle. By trying to be all things to all people, you risk getting a bunch of one time buyers instead of repeat customers.
4. If your business is B2B, would you create personas and who for?
There aren’t any specific rules to this but we would suggest that you still build user profiles for B2B but based on the size of the business e.g. independently run or cost-cutter? When you’re doing B2B, you’ll have to do more levels of profiles, for both the business and the person within the business who will sign off on your service/product e.g marketing team. Understand how to appeal to both.
“Deciding the size of the company and the type of company I’m going to target is going to influence your strategy and your income.” - SR
Be aware that bigger companies take longer to pay which will affect your cashflow, so if you need cash quickly, you might want to work with smaller companies.
5. How do you deal with conflicting user profiles?
“It helps to prioritise.” - Lisa Roolant, Beyond.
Let’s say you own a company that sells engagement rings. While it’s men that are buying the rings, you wouldn’t necessarily market to them because it’s the females who dictate what type of rings are popular or not. So even though the females aren’t directly your customers, they hold the power in this situation therefore you would need to target them. Ask yourself, who are the people who are enabling the discovery of your product or service because those are the people you need to speak to.
If you’re still finding this to be an issue, segment your social accounts based on who is following that account. But do try to focus on who is the one that is making your product important.