Let’s focus on a topic that’s vitally important for business and for marketing and that is how to build an effective Customer Profile. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the areas where business owners spend the least amount of time, in my experience.
As part of building that customer profile, we are going to be looking at how to humanise your customers so that you can build a deeper relationship with them. Doing so will not only enable you to create a space for them to teach you, but also develop trust between you — both of which will provide you with clues about how to serve them better.
With all this in mind, I’ve got a 7-step plan (it’s actually six plus one) to help you profile all of the customers who made it through your resonance and profitability sieve (as outlined in our last blog post here). Having narrowed it down to three or four customers, it’s time to move your voice out of the way and allow theirs to speak.
The Devil Is In The Detail
Before we get to step one, I want to emphasise that the devil really is in the details when building a customer profile. Don’t think of it as just a box ticking exercise. Instead, endeavour to delve deeper, discover the unexpected and use the space to capture and tell stories about your customers.When we tell stories about our customers and we start to walk in their shoes, we begin to understand why they're doing the things they're doing and why they're stuck. Click To Tweet
By building a deep relationship with them, we inevitably realise the constraints within which they live and / or work and it’s this depth of understanding that allows us to tweak our marketing efforts to resonate with them even more.
That’s why the downloadable spreadsheet at the end of this post is deliberately structured to provide you with the space you need to tell stories about them and not just tick boxes.
Remember: While this exercise might seem a little frustrating while you’re completing it, and you may need to go away, talk to your customers and come back to it, the rewards will be 100% worth it.
Step 1 – Demographics
First of all, when it comes to building a customer profile, you need to start with the obvious stuff, the demographics: where, who, gender, age, what do they do, how much do they earn, etc.
Once you’ve done this and created a snapshot of your four or five ideal customers, it’s time to go a little deeper so that we don’t just rest with the obvious. There’s a lovely example I often use when facilitating workshops on this topic.
I remember recalling a story where I asked a group to imagine that their ideal customer could be as outlandish and contradictory as a librarian… with tattoos… who bungee jumps on the weekend. It’s possibly the most incredulous example I could come up with at the time and, of course, to my surprise, someone in the room raised their hand and shared that this description was exactly of them.
The point is, we have preconceived ideas when we think about a librarian and who they are as a person. Being tattooed and bungee jumping at weekends probably isn’t part of those ideas. This is why it’s important to go deeper than just that 2D view and consider the different traits that make up your customers.
Step 2 – Put Yourself In Their Shoes
Think about a typical day in their life, put yourself in their shoes and write a little paragraph that says: ‘life looks like this for me…’
So if your example customer is Jeff, the CTO of a large tech company, I want you to write down what his day looks like, from the moment he wakes until the time he goes to bed.
Write down as much as you know and you’ll soon realise that it’s actually very little. While it might seem like a waste of time, doing this will start you on this path of understanding what Jeff’s constraints are and thinking about what are the things that affect his daily life.
It’s about understanding “WHO” he is as opposed to what products or services he can buy from you. Once you’re on the way to doing this, that’s when you start humanising Jeff and can begin to build a relationship with him.
You’ll never stop learning about your customer and that’s fine! Building a customer profile is not a destination, it’s an ongoing journey.The day you believe you've stopped learning about your customer because you know everything about them, is the day you have lost. Click To Tweet
Step 3 – What Challenges Do They Face?
Having put yourself in your customer’s shoes, you’ll hopefully have a better understanding of the pain points they face. Write down what’s challenging them and do so using language that they would use themselves. This enables you to use the same language back to them later, deepening the trust and resonance.
Most of the time, when we’re trying to attract our customers to us, we’re trying to send a message to them that says: “I know you, I understand you, I feel your pain. I’m with you on your journey” and that’s incredibly powerful when it comes to actually connecting with them.
Step 4 – What Drives Them?
Solving pain points is one thing. But what about when they’ve all been solved? Your customers will still have dreams, aspirations and motivations. What are they?
We don’t always live in pain and neither do our customers. So think about what it is they would love to do and that you could possibly help them achieve?
Let’s say you work with a person or a company who has a problem and you end up solving it. After that, what is the person or the company’s goal? What’s the next piece of the puzzle?
If you can figure that out and come up with another solution, that’s when you start building meaningful, recurring relationships. And it’s these recurring relationships that drive more value for you and your business.
Step 5 – What’s Their Footprint?
Where is your customer active both online and offline? For example, do they speak on podcasts, post on social media (if so, which channels) and are they a member of any organisations or associations?
Discovering your customer’s footprint will help with your marketing efforts later.
- Are they on social media?
- Where are they active with their work?
- Do they regularly post on certain forums or discussion boards?
- Where do they speak?
- Where can you hear their voice and see them in action?
- Do they blog or write regular updates?
All of these factors make up their footprint and you need to capture that footprint somewhere as it will help shape your marketing.
Step 6 – What Do They Consume?
With your customer’s footprint outlined and recorded, you need to switch your focus to their consumption. Now we’re not talking about what they eat, rather what content they’re consuming online and offline.
- What are they consuming on social media?
- Which blogs, newspapers, magazines, trade journals do they like to read?
- Is There A YouTube Channel, a Netflix show they prefer to watch etc?
- Do They Have Preferred Podcasts They Like To Listen To?
Discovering this not only allows you to understand the topics that interest them, but also where they are hanging out. When you come to build your funnel, you’ll want to focus your efforts on where your customers are; so you can be there too. Connecting with your customers where they are most comfortable will drive the strongest connections and greatest value.Knowing what your ideal customers are consuming and where they're consuming it allows you to be in the right place and at the right time. Click To Tweet
Step 7 – What Else?
Now at the start, I said this was more like six steps plus one. I just don’t like to be constrained and restricted whenever I’m building a customer profile — or any exercise, for that matter, that can potentially benefit my business.
So this 7th and final step is for anything you’ve discovered about your customer that doesn’t quite fit anywhere else.
Consider if there’s anything else you haven’t thought about. No matter how big or how small, anything that could potentially help improve your relationship (and its fruitfulness) with your customer.
So what have you not thought of yet? Are there any clues they’re giving you that point towards something they need help with?
In summary: Build a customer profile for each customer type you are targeting. This is such a worthwhile exercise because if you can’t build a profile, then you’re not truly targeting.
And remember: You will never stop profiling. Customers change all the time. The challenge for you is to keep up!
Get started on the 7 points we’ve gone through in today’s blog by downloading my Customer Profiling Sheet!