When was the last time you thought about your customer base? Using personas to tune in to your customers can have a long-term impact on your physical shop as well as your online business. We show you in three steps how you can easily create such personas to identify who your customers really are.
Characteristics of a persona
Personas are imaginary characters that you can use to illustrate your typical customers. In creating your personas, do not only think of your last buyer or a regular customer, as a typical consumer may differ from these buyers. Therefore, it is useful to have a picture of these buyer types in order to market your products.
The characteristics of a persona can be those of a real person:
- Place of residence
- Marital status
- Job title
Think beyond these points to complete the picture. What does your persona look like? Where does the persona buy her products? What does she do on the weekend? Where does she go on holiday? What is important to her in her life? What motivates the persona to visit your shop?
Even if the preliminary work sounds banal – the personas help visualise your target group of consumers and provides an overview of their needs. This allows you to address your buyers more specifically with appropriate marketing strategies. It also helps to think about the target group in advance when creating an online shop. Which products are your customers interested in when visiting your physical store? Which categories are important to them and what would they like to have quick access to in your online shop?
1. Create your persona
The details of your persona should mostly be formed from your own data and research. As a shop owner, you have probably already been able to observe larger customer groups from which you can draw an intersection. Very important is to stay as objective as possible when thinking about your typical customers. Consider using the following options to create a sound database:
- Social media. Do you already have a Facebook page or other social media accounts for your retail shop? Look at the followers or visitors and note the interests and characteristics of their profiles.
- Internet research. The field of your business can usually already point to a specific target group. You can get an idea of the target group through topic-related forums on the Internet. Market analyses in the form of surveys and statistics are also an easy and quick way to get a scientific foundation.
- Direct conversations with customers. Relationships with your existing customers can be very insightful. Take every opportunity to engage with your customers and to ask precise questions. Do they often buy products like these? Does the customer stand out in their social environment with his buying behaviour or are there several interested parties in the same age group? Are there gender-specific differences and interests in your product range?
- Shop analysis. Do you already have an online shop? Here you can often see the customers’ data, such as date of birth or address. Use this information to complete the picture of your persona.
To represent an average of your entire buyer base, you can take a maximum of three to four different personas. If your average customers do not differ too much from one another, you can focus on just one persona for now. However, keep in mind that developing new target groups with the help of a persona can be particularly effective. Revisit your personas from time to time and make necessary adjustments as your business grows.
You can write down all the factors in bullet points. Alternatively, you can use free online services such as Hubspot’s “Make My Persona” tool to easily create personas for your business.
Our example scenario is a brick-and-mortar store that specialises in selling regional teas made of organic ingredients. The matching personas for this shop could look like this, for example:
2. Interview your persona
Personas can sometimes be difficult to grasp because they are, in a way, imaginary profiles. The best way to visualise your personas is to interview them. Prepare yourself for the following thought experiment: On the following day, you have an interview with your personas who already are acquainted with your products. For this purpose, formulate a questionnaire that you go through for the respective personas. Make sure to ask open questions so that the answers are as thorough as possible.
You can also use our sample questions:
- How did you find our shop?
- What do you like about our products?
- What do you miss about our online presence?
- Where do you usually search for product X?
- How often do you buy products from us?
- Which product could you not find in our product range?
- How can the buying experience be improved?
Once you have created your list of questions, answer them on behalf of your persona.
Remember: Stay as objective as possible! Your personal impressions of your shop should not play a role at this point. Alternatively, you can ask a colleague or acquaintance to put themselves in your persona’s shoes.
3. Analysis and goals
Once you have finished the interview, you can start the analysis. Several points play a role here:
a) What needs does the persona have?
b) Where and how do I reach the persona?
c) How do the criteria differ for several personas?
Note these points equally for each persona. Also note differences and similarities in buying behaviour; these factors play an essential role in targeted marketing.
The aim of the analysis is to work out marketing measures that are perfectly suited to your target group. In other words – how do you best bring your business to the customer? This can happen offline as well as online. Be open to new ways and measures that may come out as a result of the analysis. You notice that your persona mainly informs himself on the internet? Act accordingly and create an online presence – if you don’t already have one – so that the target group doesn’t lose sight of you. Click here to read our 21 tips to promote your business online.
We can find more concrete examples in the sample personas above: Ruby Roiboos and Freya Fennel. At first glance, they don’t have much in common. While Ruby communicates a lot on social media, Freya prefers personal communication with her family. Nevertheless, both have an interest in rare and regional teas. In the interview we may learn, that the organic seal also plays an important role for Ruby because she follows a lot of other organic brands on social media. A logical consequence would be different marketing measures to reach both personas:
- Highlight the organic seal on the packaging
- Create an entry on Google My Business in order for your physical shop to appear on search results.
- Offer an online shop with a focus on regional organic teas
- Create an “About us” page on the website with the values of the retail shop
- Offer in-store events such as tea seminars and other promotions for the physical store.
- Hand out leaflets at regional markets
- Launch a new range of products with native garden herbs
Nowadays, online and offline commerce go hand in hand. So, don’t forget to develop cross-channel measures for your brick-and-mortar shop and your online presence. QR Codes, for example, provide a great bridge for in-store customers to easily get more information about products on the shelf.