Contributor post by Rena Tom
How much do you really know about your customer? You know from the shipping address where your online customers live, and perhaps you have email addresses captured from a craft fair, but what else do you know that can help you make business decisions?
Knowing information about your customer can help shape a persona, which will prove useful as you design your line, plan a marketing campaign, and decide which stores to sell to. Think of a persona as a muse for your entire business. To create her, gather as much data about your current customers as you can, give her a name, and then let your imagination run a bit wild.
Details for a persona read a bit like a Facebook profile these days - for example, “Jane” might be 27 years old, single, college-educated and living in the Midwest with a job in publishing. Ask yourself: what does Jane like to do when she’s not at work? Does she go to the gym? Read magazines? What blogs are her favorites? Did she learn how to knit by taking a class with some girlfriends? Does she own a pet? Make your best guess to create a well-rounded profile for her.
You should also think about Jane’s big-picture goals, as that may give you good data as well. Does she dream of moving to New York soon? (She’ll be watching carefully spending on durable goods or small, space-saving items for her tiny apartment.) Will she plan a big trip to a foreign country? (She might visit travel websites for inspiration.)
Finally, consider Jane’s sphere of influence. If she’s a loyal customer, she might talk about you to her running partner or her knitting group or fellow bridesmaids at all the weddings she’s in that summer. Her coworkers will notice when she’s wearing something cute. The group at the dog park will probably do the same. Oh, and her high school reunion is coming up.
Just to reinforce things, create a pinboard for Jane - one picture of what she looks like, and supporting images of things she loves or finds inspiring - clothing, books, exotic locales, her dog, her friends.
This may seem like a silly exercise but when you are making crucial decisions about your product or your marketing efforts, considering how to reach and sell to Jane will help reduce the worry that you are making a misstep with your brand.
One note here: your ideal customer may not be your existing customer. It’s up to you to keep marketing to the customers you have, or try to shift and gain a new customer base (at the risk of losing the old one). If you have two different product lines, you might have two personas to work with - Jane who likes edgier stuff and her mom Janet who is a little more conservative.
Good luck and have fun! I’ve been diving deep into the world of personas as I prepare a new workshop called Retail Readiness. If you have any questions about how personas can help your business, leave me a comment below.