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How to build a great customer persona

When you run a small business, one thing you should never make guesses about is your customer. It’s common for business owners to assume who their customers are and what they really want, but that doesn’t make it a good thing. In fact, this mistake tends to be the single major reason why some businesses never move forward. Businesses that grow, on the other hand, understand that it’s impossible to promote their products or services without knowing their target customers. And that’s why they invest time and effort into the all-important task of building customer personas. This article reveals all you need to know about great customer personas and how to create them for your business.

What’s a customer persona?

In simple terms, a customer persona is a character that presents an image of your target customers. This persona is built not by guessing or assuming details about your customers, but by observing them, researching them, and—most importantly—talking to them. By building a persona, you gain a better understanding of your customers and are equipped with the right information to offer them better products or services.

There are two major parts of every good customer persona:

Demographic information:

This information tells you what type of customer would buy your product or service. The persona details your potential customer’s age, gender and sex (if applicable, depending on your product/service), educational level (if applicable), line of work, and even their salary or societal class (upper class, middle class and so on).

Behavioural information:

This is more important, as it tells you why a customer would buy your product or service. As such, the persona also details your potential customer’s likes and hobbies, motivations, and pain points—that is, the specific problems they experience that can lead them to interact with your business.

In case you’re wondering, every single type of business needs a customer persona and can benefit from it. From retail store owners to even artisans, there’s no business owner out there who wouldn’t make more profits when their business is driven by a good understanding of their customers.

Why is a customer persona so important?

Customer personas are so important for a lot of reasons, and they’re even more important when you run a small business. First, they help you know the type of customers that can make you the most money. This knowledge will guide you in making important decisions to attract these customers, keep them coming back, and preach your business gospel to other customers, Second, they help you invest into your business wisely and save your money in the process. Small business owners work on a tight budget, and so it’s important that any funds you are spending to grow your business are spent for the right reasons. Third, they ensure that all parts of your business are built with the customer in mind, helping you offer your customers the most complete and most wonderful experience they can get.

How do I create a customer persona?

Building a customer persona is no easy task, but when done right, it makes all the difference in your business. Note that one customer persona is usually not enough; there are different types of customers, and you need to create as many personas as needed to get the best customer knowledge. Briefly explained below are three steps involved in building a great customer persona.

Discuss within your business

If you have employees who work in different teams (say, sales team, customer service team, and so on) conduct and interview to know what kind of customers they encounter daily. This also applies if you run your business solo—that is, if you are alone. The information gathered from this discussion will be the perfect point to start building your personas from.

Use the following questions to guide your in-business discussions:

  • What type of customers do we meet?
  • Why do they buy what they buy?
  • Do customers talk about how our business is better than the competition? If yes, what do they say?
  • Are there customers who refuse to buy our products/services? If yes, why?
  • Which of our marketing campaigns was the most successful?
  • What type of people did this campaign attract and why?
  • What are customers saying about our products/services?
  • What questions do customers ask about our products/services?


Discuss with your existing customers

After you have obtained all customer information from within your business, interact with your customers to have their points of view and get more information on their demography and behaviour.

Use the following questions to guide your discussions with customers:

Demographic information:

  • What is your age and gender?
  • Where do you live, and do you own or rent a home?
  • Are you married and do you have children?
  • What is your educational level?
  • What industry do you work in?
  • What is your income level?

Behavioural information:

  • How much time do you spend at home and at work?
  • What describes a typical day in your life?
  • Where do you love to go shopping? Online or physically?
  • How do you learn more about a product/service?
  • What do you look for in a product/service?
  • Who do you listen to for recommendations on a product/service?
  • What is your worst customer service experience so far?
  • What makes you worried?
  • What is one product you regret spending your money on? 

Organize the results

The final part of building a persona is to make meaning out of the data you have gathered and organize it so it can be understood. This involves bringing together the common answers to interview questions. For example, one persona (Michael) can be used to describe customers who ‘are 26-34 years old, male, have families with 1-3 children, earn $40-50,000 a year, love to shop online, listen to their co-workers for product/service recommendations, and so on.’ In this way, you can develop personas for different types of customers.

Building a customer persona is an investment that always pays off, no matter what stage your business is in. Use the information above to find out what makes your customers tick, why they would (or would not) buy your product or service, and how you can bring more paying customers to your doorstep.

P.S.: It’s one thing to get customers; it’s another thing to keep them. And we’ve created Vencru to ensure that you keep your customers coming back with even more customers. Vencru lets you personalize every part of your customer service by storing their details, keeping automatically updated records of their activity with your business, and even showing them these records to assure them that they’re getting the best value for money. Manage your business with Vencru today and transform your small business like never before