When many of us are asked who our ideal customer is, our immediate response is ‘everybody.’  As small business owners, we don’t have the luxury of being picky, right?

Wrong.

It’s not about being picky; it’s about being specific and strategic. And taking the time to get to know who your ideal customer is, not only benefits you, but them.  That’s where customer personas work their magic.

So what is it?

A customer persona is an ‘archetype.’ It’s a mental picture of the person you had in mind when you created your product or service.  This imaginary person has a name, backstory, and a lifestyle.  It has needs, wants, and experiences.imaginary people

And it’s up to you to figure out how your product or service will benefit them through their eyes – not yours, a task much easier said than done.

Yet, at the end of the day, the concept is really simple and boils down to a conversation about value.  What will your ideal customer get from what you offer and what does he or she have to give in order to get it, and are they willing to? And identifying those “willing to” is a good place to start building that persona.

Ok..but how?

The answer to this question doesn’t reside in your gut.  This isn’t about what you think or how you feel customers will respond to you.  The personas that yield the best results are based on observation and research into customer buying behavior.

Yes, research.  Take the time to do your homework because the end result is quality data that you can use to build a more accurate profile of the person most likely to benefit from what you offer.  And if they see the benefit, they’re more likely to buy.

Is it really necessary?

Short answer – yes.

As the Ben Franklin saying goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” and taking the time to create a customer persona now means less time and money wasted on trying to market your business to the wrong people who never buy or are “cheap minded” and will certainly make a break for it later.

Keep in mind…

If you pursue the right people, they will follow, like and share.

If you pursue the right people, they will buy, recommend, and refer.