Business plan: How to write a customer profile

Figuring out who your customers are, how you’ll reach them, and ultimately how you’ll convince them to spend money on your product is at the heart of the business plan.

A useful way to get a handle on who your customers are is to create a customer profile – think about your typical customer and make them real. When you have an image in your head of your typical customer and what their life is like you can keep referring back to it when developing your product or service, when marketing it, when making decisions.

For example, VSU-funded entrepreneur Tessa Holladay of SAINT LUKE, has a customer profile that she calls Luke. "Luke is 32 years old. He likes being on the beach; he loves sailing, travelling, culture, and surfing. He wears stylish brands like Ray Ban, Sebago and Orlebar Brown - he’s good-looking, entrepreneurial, affluent, socially conscious, multi-lingual and adventurous," she told Virgin.com.

Watch the video and read the points below to learn how to develop a cracking customer profile.

Building a profile

Elements commonly considered in a customer profile include:

Age – How old is your typical customer?

Income – How much disposable income do your customers have? Are they teens with pocket money, affluent young professionals, or those on low income looking to maximise value?

Media – What newspapers, magazines and TV shows do they watch? What websites do they regularly visit? Are they fans of Guardian thinkpieces, regular watchers of Coronation Street, big Facebook fans?

Interests – Think about what your customers like to do in their spare time. Do they prefer video games to getting outside? What do they like to eat, what relaxes them, what makes them happy?

Location –Where do they live? Is it urban, suburban, in the middle of nowhere – and how does this impact their buying decisions?

Lifestyle – Think about their daily routine. What do they do for a living, and what sort of hours do they work? Who do they live with – children, spouse, housemates, alone? Where do they like to go on holiday? Where do they shop?

Think about why they’re your customers

When you’ve built up an image of your typical customer, think about why they’d be interested in what you’re selling. You’re either solving a problem for them, or making their life better. But what makes them likely to choose you over the competition? How does your product fit into the life you’ve imagined for them, and how can you make it especially attractive to them?

Target them

Because you’ve already thought about and researched the media they consume and the way they spend their time, you can use this information to decide on what channels you’ll used to market at them. You wouldn’t market a product aimed at teenagers in the same way as you would a product aimed at pensioners, for example. Savvy social media campaigns are great, if your customers are regular Twitter users, but if they’re not then you might see better results from advertising in print, or through handing out flyers. Rather than taking a one-size-fits-all approach, creating profiles allows you to personalise the way you interact with your customers.

Think about ideas for targeting them – discounts, campaigns, etc – and consider how you can do these things differently to your competitors.

Now you have knowledge of who your customers are and ideas for how to target them, think about the specific activities you need to do to make it happen. Whether it’s setting up a Facebook page, a Twitter account, giving out flyers or an event, be specific about the steps you’ll need to take. You can then identify the costs associated with these activities. How much will it all cost? Put these costs together, and you’ve turned a customer profile into an actionable plan.

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