shaking hands customer

The third Thursday of each quarter is Get to Know Your Customer Day. In honor of the day, I want to guide you through the process of identifying your customers and getting to know them better.

This is a part of my Strategy Series. We’ve already established your Mission Statement (why you do what you do), Value Propositions (why people should buy from you), Points of Conversion (where you’re driving them to spend money), Objectives (how to measure success), and we’ve performed an Audit of your digital assets. Now that we’ve established the base of your organization, it’s time to focus on the customer.

The 5 W’s

You’ve probably heard of the 5 Ws: Who What When Where Why. The 5 W concept is used in problem solving, investigation, and journalism to ensure all elements of a situation have been considered. I use this format for the next section of digital marketing strategy.

Who Are You Talking To?

Your customer, client, member, donor, or target – it doesn’t matter what you call them. They’re buying or using your products and services. In order to sell to them or have them value what you do, you’ll need to understand who they are. We’re going to create a mock-up of these people and the end product has a lot of names: customer profile, customer avatar, buyer persona, target audience and I’m sure there are more. Don’t worry about the words, it’s the understanding that’s important.

The purpose of developing this information is because it gives you the ability to personalize your communications. Not every person you’re targeting has the same needs or will respond to the same language.  You can segment by buyer persona and tailor  messaging according to what you know about those different personas.

It’s important to remember that as a person, you have preferences. Your customers will be similar to you, a little different, and polar opposite from you. Think outside of your box of experience and imagine that they will use other words than you naturally do, have other needs, and possibly contrasting communication styles. Keep this in mind.

Get The Buyer Persona Worksheet


Identify A Customer

Download this Buyer Persona template or grab a piece of paper. Think of a customer, one of your most common or frequent. Consider the following (not all of these will apply):

  • Name – Rather than Juan or Jenny, name this person after how you think of them. Some of my personas are Boss, Marketing Manager, Family, School Administrator. Having names for your target audience members makes it easier to speak directly to them when creating content.
  • Job – Title, role, or responsibilities
  • Family – Are they married, partnered, with or without kids? This impacts purchasing decisions as well as disposable income.
  • Age or Stage of Life – You might list a specific age, an age range, generational name, or stage-of-life such as “recent college grad” or “retired.” Avoid words like “old” “older” or “young” as these are subjective and have unnecessary judgment built it. No need for ageism.
  • Gender Expression – We’ve moved beyond the binary so broaden your understanding of your customer. They may not be female or male, they may identify in another way. Everyone is valid.
  • Location – Are they local, regional, national, international, urban, suburban, rural?
  • Cultural Background & Language – I know you’re not assuming you know how to speak to a person not of your culture or primary language without educated input. Make sure you defer to the opinions of those in the community or those with deep knowledge. This is exactly why we have diversity in employment and most importantly on communication and marketing teams! Don’t be that organization. (See a painful example of this.)
  • Socioeconomic Status – You may also use Income as a feature.
  • Level of Education – Your grammar may change depending on whom you’re talking to and their level of schooling and cultural norms (Gen Z speaks much differently than Boomers regardless of education, see Cultural Background).
  • Role in Purchasing Process – Are they the manager or owner? They may have to check in with someone else before the final decision is made and this can impact your messaging.
  • Communication Preferences – How do they access information? How do they preferred to be communicated with? This may differ from your preference.
  • Challenges – What are they facing in life or what’s going on for them if they need your product/service? Think about how they feel, their concerns, and their emotional load.
  • Objections – These are the No’s, the reasons they may back away from committing to what you offer. Being prepared for this is regularly the difference between closing the sale and walking away empty-handed.
  • Add anything else that makes sense for your needs.

open sign for customerRepeat this process for each of your customers. Commonly an organization will have 2-10 different people to focus on. As you work with your personas, you’re likely to add more details but these are great to get started.

No, Not Everyone

As you were going through the persona process, it may have occurred to you that “everyone” is your customer. That’s might be true but if you can think of someone that doesn’t need your product or service, then you have to get clarity on who does want your product and service.

You have a good idea of who is buying your products and services but think about these questions. Who are you missing? Who would you LOVE to reach? Who’s is your perfect client? Make sure you put them on your radar as well. Learn how to identify the Best Customer for you.

Now That You Know

With this information you’ll be crafting messaging, content, and posts that speak directly to your clients. Every time you write a blog, run an ad, or send an email you’ll be considering the people, their needs, and preferences and the effect is intimate. Your content will resonate for them in a whole new way.

Read more in my Strategy Series to get your marketing efforts up to par.

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