Current Customer Profile vs. Ideal Customer Profile

Customer ProfileBehind every good marketing strategy is a good buyer persona – or there should be. If you’ve worked with a marketing agency before, no doubt you have been told the importance of the buyer persona; if you haven’t then listen up now – buyer personas are important!  Maybe right now you’re rolling your eyes as you read this. After all, you work in your industry day in and day out.  You know everything there is to know about your customer, so there is no need to waste precious time and resources in creating a buyer persona – right? Wrong!

Consider these stats about Personas:

  • Companies who exceed lead and revenue goals are more than twice as likely to create Personas than companies who miss these goals.
  • 71% of companies who exceed revenue and lead goals have documented Personas.
  • 90% of companies using Personas have been able to create a clearer understanding of who buyers are.
  • Top performing companies have mapped 90% or more of their customer database by Persona.

Two Types of Customer Profiles

A buyer persona, using HubSpot’s definition, is the semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customer. However, there are two types of customer profiles that you should look at when creating your buyer personas – the current customer profile and the ideal customer profile. Although not every company will need to create both, they may still find it beneficial.

Why two types of profiles?

two different colored doorsIf a company is looking to expand their customer portfolio and break into new markets, simply looking at who their current customer is won’t be enough.  For some companies, however, a current customer profile is all they will need to attract the right audience to their brand. Let’s look at a few examples to get a better understanding of when each type of profile can benefit a company.

Company A is a software company who sells software to hospitals and physician offices to help streamline electronic record keeping.

Company B is a bank that started in a small community and is looking to expand their branch locations into the nearest metropolis.

In the case of Company A their potential customer database is very specific due to the highly specialized product offering. Looking at their current customer demographics, behaviors, motivations, concerns, etc. will give company A the details they would need to build a current customer profile that served their sales and marketing team well and helped guide messaging, attract leads, and convert/close new customers.

Company B, however, shouldn’t rely on just their current customer profile if they want to grow market share in their current market and move into a new market. The customer that Company B has been serving at their small rural branch is not going to be the same customer they are messaging to during their transition into serving the metropolis in the area. In the case of Company B, not only will they want to build a current customer profile, to make sure that they continue to perform well at the rural locations, but they will want to build an ideal customer profile that tells a story of the type of customer they are going to be trying to attract in their new market.

Creating your customer profile

Creating your ideal customer profile and your current customer profile will be a very similar process when it comes to the steps you are taking to get there. What will vary between the two is where you are getting your information from. Interviews with current customers will be the main source of information for your current customer profile. When creating your ideal customer profile you will need to look beyond talking to current customers and get information on the type of people in your ideal market. From these profiles you can then create your buyer persona. Let’s walk through creating your customer profiles step-by-step.

Determine what type of profile you need to create

If you don’t know what you need, revisit the example earlier in this blog, or ask yourself: Are the customers I am currently working with the only type of customer that I want working with my business? If the answer is no, you should create both.

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Research your customer’s demographic and psychographic

You can do this in a number of ways. For your current customer profile here are a few tools to utilize:

When looking at an ideal customer profile you will want to go beyond looking at the analytics on who is currently on your website and your social media platforms, and look at the demographic and psychographic profiles of people who align with your goals. Looking back at the example of Company B, they would want to look at the demographic and psychographic profiles of the metropolis area they are looking to move into. Some tools to use for this are:

Determine the priority initiative

Priority initiative is just a fancy way of asking “why is there a need for the customer to do business with you?” Typically a problem arises in the customers’ lives and they need to find a way to solve it. Looking at the example of Company A, a physician could be losing customers to other practices that are using electronic records and patient portals. This would trigger him to search for software that can keep him competitive in the marketplace – hello Company A with a solution.

 

Determine the roadblocks

At this step, what you need to be asking is why wouldn’t someone want to do business with me? This is a good time to talk to your sales team about all of the deals they lost and what they heard in the process. Are you too expensive? Do you not offer enough bells and whistles compared to your competitor? After you determine what these barriers are, you will want to determine how you can overcome them with your marketing messages.

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Determine the success factors

What would make a relationship between your company and the customer a successful relationship?  This isn’t based on what you think, but what your buyer thinks. You want to make sure these success factors align with your company values and what you can realistically offer, or the customer isn’t a good fit.

What parts of your product or service are being evaluated in the decision process?

Once again you will find your sales team is a great resource when it comes to determining what parts of your product or service customers are evaluating. Cost is typically an obvious one, but what are you missing? Are customers of Company A asking frequently about software integrations with current products they are using? Is Company B offering competitive rates and fees in the marketplace? If you know what is important to them when comparing you to other options, you have the opportunity to address how your company is better.

What is the buyer’s journey?

Using HubSpot’s definition, the buyer’s journey is the process buyers go through to become aware of, evaluate, and purchase a new product or service. There are three distinct stages that buyers go through on their journey: Awareness, Consideration and Decision. To get a complete view of your customer’s buyer’s journey you will want to evaluate each stage separately.

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Awareness Stage

  • In their own words what is the buyer’s goal or challenge?
  • What sources of information does the buyer depend on to learn more about their goal or challenge? (online and offline)
    • Some examples are: Facebook, morning news, Sunday paper, friends
  • What will happen if the buyer does nothing to reach their goal or solve their challenge?
  • Are their misconceptions that are common around the buyer’s goal or challenge?

Consideration Stage

  • What are the different categories that the buyer investigates while looking for a solution?
  • What sources of information does the buyer depend on to learn more about the solutions to their goal or challenge? (online and offline)
  • What pros and cons do buyers consider when deciding what solution category is right for them?

Decision Stage

  • What sets your company apart from others offering solutions to your buyer’s problem?
  • Who is involved in the decision making process?
  • Are there other factors that buyers need to consider before purchasing from you?

Once you gather all this data – and there should be a lot of it – it is time to take a step back and start looking for patterns that will allow you to create your buyer personas. Check out some of these free templates for setting up your persona. If all of this seems like more work than you time for, send us a message or give us a call – we’re persona building experts.

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