How well do you know your customers? Understanding your ideal clients and customers is the foundation of all great marketing, so it’s important to do some work in this area. Ready to learn more?

In this week’s episode of The Whin Big Podcast, we cover everything you need to get to know your customers – and potential customers – better. Katie covers everything from what questions to ask yourself, how to create your ideal customer avatar, what research to carry out, and so much more.

Today's episode is sponsored by the Instagram MOT. This 20-point checklist and free training are freshly updated, so get stuck in to find out if your profile is fit for purpose or needs some attention! Click on the big yellow button below to get started right away.

Knowing who your customers are

In The Whin Big Podcasts, Katie often talks about the importance of knowing as much about your customer as possible. Still, the topic is usually part of a larger conversation about marketing strategy and planning and can get lost in the bigger picture.

This week’s episode is an excellent opportunity to get stuck in and understand it in a significant way. Some business owners find this task easy. For others, it’s a tricky concept to get right.

“If you’re listening out there and you have no idea of your niche, or you’ve got too many different customer groups to pick just one, I know how you feel – and this podcast is for you.”

What is an ideal customer persona or avatar?

The idea is that we create a characterisation (or imaginary person) who represents your customer. Some people take a real customer they currently work with and use much of their persona as a base to get started. Others fill out a template from scratch, which is pretty standard when you work through a traditional business start-up process.

However you go about it, the aim is to develop a vivid picture of who you’re trying to market and sell to.

What is the best Customer Persona Template?

Generic, cookie-cutter templates designed to help any (and every) business with customer profiling often cause more problems than they solve. Business owners can spend unnecessary time and energy working out an aspect of their customer base that isn’t relevant (such as age or income). 

But if that’s all you’ve got to work with, or you want to start from scratch, here’s how to get results in a way that suits your business, and most importantly – your goals.

  • Start with the result in mind. This is where you decide on the marketing activity for your business goals. (e.g., create an audience for a FB advert, you’re trying to add more value to your newsletter, making Reels that reach more people on Instagram, or designing a website that will appeal to your customer). 
  • Track the information you need to know to get to the result. These examples – and every other marketing decision – require certain pieces of information to make them work. Once you’ve worked out what information you need to track, you’ll be able to build your ideal customer template. 

We listed four examples of an end result marketing decision, so let’s look at them in more detail so you can get a clearer idea of what info you need to track. 

Marketing Activity 1: Facebook Adverts

Setting up an advert on Facebook means creating an audience to target.  Choosing the right audience takes you through both generic and specific characteristics such as: 

  • Demographics like: Location (from a 1-mile radius to global options), Gender, Age
  • Interests and characteristics like; Parents, Business owners, Getting married, Authors they like, Accounts they follow

You need to know what’s relevant to your business, so it’s essential to consider all the details. This means the persona questions should include all of the points that make sense. 

Marketing Activity 2: Improving your newsletter

How do you know what your subscribers do and don’t want to read about? To meet your subscribers’ needs, you’ll want to compile a strong list of topics that will help them with their problems. Think about: 

  • What your customers struggle with
  • What questions do they ask you (or Google)? 
  • What words or phrases do they use in Amazon book reviews? 
  • What reviews do they leave on TripAdvisor, Amazon, or even your platforms?
  • What articles do they share on social media or send to their friends or colleagues?

These topics give you clues about what they need but can’t find. Or what they’ve read but don’t understand – and this will help you come up with ideas for great newsletters. 

Marketing Activity 3: Making Reels that reach more people

To get this right, you need to explore what’s already working on Reels. Think about things like: 

  • What’s attention-grabbing?
  • What’s trending?
  • What’s easy to digest and share?
  • What hashtags do people follow? 
  • What makes people laugh? 

Marketing example 4: Designing a website that appeals to your customers 

For this, you have to get specific rather than generic. You’ll want to focus on things like: 

  • What device they use most online (phones, tablets, desktop)
  • How do they respond to colours you use?
  • Do they have access needs like larger fonts or graphic elements? 
  • Do they want tutorial videos or printed instructions? 
  • Video testimonials or a link to Trust pilot? 
  • Contact form or a phone number? 

The better you know your customers, the easier it will be to adapt your choices to appeal to them. 

5 ways to research your ideal customer

Now you’ve got a mini customer persona template; you need to do some research so you can start filling it in. Here are five different research activities to work through, but you’ll likely need a combination of two or three to complete the picture.

As with every episode of The Whin Big Podcast, the episode goes into more detail than the show notes, so don’t forget to listen to the episode to get clear on the instructions.

  • Desk Research Part 1: Google it.  You’ll find white papers, reports, research articles, peer-reviewed data. This is where you can start finding out about trends, accessibility, colour theory, or any number of topics to help you with the data you need.
  • Desk Research Part 2: Snooping.  This is where we look for the online places where our ideal customers hang out. Think of sites your customers will communicate in the public space: competitor reviews, comments on news articles, or Facebook posts. Instagram is a fantastic resource for research. Check out who your competitors follow on Instagram and who’s following them. From there, you can read some post discussions to get a feel for what’s important to people.
  • Interview potential customers.  This will give you detailed, specific answers, and you can ask follow-up questions. If you’re about to launch an expensive or time-consuming project – like redoing your website or launching a new product. Ask concrete questions as well as specific or generic themes.
  • Customer survey.  These work best when you have a large, engaged audience. They’re good for simple questions. Katie uses them to get clearer on ideas and themes that come out of her customer interviews.  They’re also useful for looking at demographic trends and finding which marketing activities are working best for you, and so much more. Just don’t expect your participants to do all the work for you. If you’re thinking of running a survey, Google forms and Survey Monkey work well and for a really quick snapshot, try using the poll stickers, sliders, and question boxes in Instagram Stories.
  • Try it and see.  If you want to know what type of content your audience values or likes, create a few versions. Write more than one newsletter, make a couple of different Reels. You can experiment within a new website design too – which call to action buttons get the most clicks? What colour of call to action button works best? These all make great experiments, and it’s hard to find out the answer to these questions in advance.

The truth about customer profile research

No one research type will get you all the answers to all of your questions, and some might be almost impossible to find.

How to turn your customer persona into a successful marketing strategy

If you want to grow your business by making strong connections with your customers, understanding everything you can about who they are, what they want, and how you help will give you a solid foundation to build a marketing strategy. 

But it’s only the start of it, so where do you go from here?

If you’re someone who wants to improve your Instagram marketing strategy, but don’t have the time, or desire, to DIY a strategy by yourself, then a logical next step is our Instagram Masterclass.

At just £97*, it covers the four vital elements of Instagram strategy. 

  • Growth 
  • Engagement
  • Sales
  • Planning

Everything you need is in one place, with practical training videos and a helpful workbook.

Coming Soon: We’re adding an update to the course very soon, with new content on Instagram Reels. When it lands, the price of the Masterclass will go up. But the great news is, if you buy the Masterclass now, you’ll get FREE access to the new content when it drops.

You can’t say fairer than that!

Resources from episode 68 of The Whin Big Podcast 

[Podcast] How to use Instagram Stories

Google Forms

Survey Monkey

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