Find out Who Your Customers Are and How to Reach Them - With Powerful Personas (+ Free Template)

I have been working in the design and marketing industry for over 8 years and one of the biggest mistakes I have seen is that not only Startups, but even established companies do not know who their target audience is and how to reach them. They waste thousands of dollars on mass marketing to get every customer they can find, but see no lasting success.

The problem is that if you do not know who your target audience is and how to reach and communicate with potential customers, you can bury your dream of having a successful business.

Let me show you how to find out who your customers are and how to reach them using powerful Personas. This way, you can stop wasting money on mass marketing and start achieving the success your business deserves.

Let's dive right in.
What are Personas?
Personas are your potential customers.
They will help you understand your customers.
Focus on specific Personas
to save money and communicate effectively

What are Personas?

Put simply, Personas are your potential customers. They are fictional characters that represent the different types of users who might use your service or your product. Even though they are fictional, they will help you understand your users' motivations, needs and goals, and therefore help you create a compelling, valuable solution that people will love.

But not only that. They will also help you use your marketing efforts effectively and stop wasting your money on mass marketing.

When you ask people who their service/product is for, they often say:
"It's for everyone, anyone can use our service".

But instead of providing a service for "everyone", you need to start focusing on specific Personas. This is the only way you can save time and money and communicate effectively with your target audience. The more realistic your Personas are, the better you can understand their motivations, needs and goals. And that is the most important part.

Always remember: Personas are the foundation of any successful business and will help you make informed decisions. By understanding your users, you can create a better and more valuable solution.
Why are Personas important?
If you do not find enough customers, you can close your business and bury your dream of having a successful business.
Personas help you understand your users and therefore help you create a valuable solution
Start early with Personas - starting late is the only mistake

Why are Personas important and when is the right time to start building them?

If you don't find enough customers, you can close your business and bury your dream of having a successful business. Personas help you understand your users and therefore help you create a compelling, valuable solution.

They really do have an impact on every part of your business - be it marketing, design or even pricing – because they will enable you to target your marketing efforts effectively and stop wasting money on mass marketing. That's why they are so important.

So when is the right time to start building Personas?

It doesn't matter if you are just starting your business, have been in business for many years, or are working on a new product or marketing campaign. You cannot start too early, you can only start too late.

Think about it this way:
An established company is working on a new product line and is marketing via social media. They don't know who their target audience is, so they target everyone. The result is that they spend €100,000 on marketing with little or no results. A huge loss for the company and for a Startup this would be a knock out.
Resources to build a successful business
3 Persona mistakes you need to avoid
Leaving personas to gather dust
Regularly update your Personas.
Asking the wrong questions
Don't focus on demographics, delve into customers' dreams and frustrations.
Creating too many Personas
A service for everyone, is a service for no one. Focus!

3 Persona mistakes to avoid

You could just download a Persona template from anywhere on the internet, but I advise against it. The reason is that there are 3 fundamental mistakes I want you to avoid that no template will show you or tell you.

1. Letting Personas gather dust

The biggest mistake I see people make when creating Personas is that they create them once, at the start of their business, and then leave them to gather dust. This is problematic because it assumes that the market and customer needs will remain the same, which is often not the case.

Let's say you start your business with a pretty good idea of who your customers are. After a few months, you start to see some success. After a while, however, the market changes and you start to notice that your customer base is shrinking. If you haven't updated your Personas in the meantime, you may not be able to identify the reasons for this change and take appropriate action to address it.

Remember that once you've built your Personas, it's important to regularly update and refine them based on new insights. Continually align your offerings and services with your customers to ensure they remain relevant. By iterating and improving, you can avoid creating products or features that don't meet the needs of your target audience.

2. Asking irrelevant questions

The second biggest mistake is asking irrelevant questions. What do I mean by irrelevant questions?

Personas are your potential customers. So if you want to learn more about them, you need to ask the right questions. When you download a random template on the internet, you often see people focusing on demographics, interests or skills. But this is a problem. While this information can help you understand your users better, it is often meaningless.

If you are building your service and want to deliver value, it does not matter if your target audience likes to swim or read books. It often does not matter if they are from the US or Europe. It does not matter if they are introverted or extroverted.

And here is why it does not matter. Let us compare these two people:
Personas example
On the left we have Jacky. Jacky lives in the USA, works as a stewardess and travels all over the world. On the other side we have Carl, who lives in the EU, is retired and likes to read books.

On the surface, they do not have much in common. But when you look closer, they do. They both want to stay in touch with their friends and family - that's their dream, their goal.

So, for example, if you build a social media app that allows people to connect and stay in touch with each other, they are both an interesting target audience for your service.

Here's the thing:
When you create Personas, focus not just on demographics, interests or skills, but on the beliefs, dreams and frustrations of your potential customers. Only when you know this vital information can you create a service that will make your customers successful.

3. Creating too many Personas

A service for everyone is a service for no one, so stop worrying about pleasing everyone and start focusing. It may seem beneficial to create multiple Personas for a business or marketing strategy, but having too many can create confusion and make it difficult to target and satisfy each one.

In addition, having numerous Personas can make it difficult to tailor your messaging to each one, which can negatively impact the chances of converting them into customers. Worse still, it can lead to an unclear customer journey, as different customers may have different needs, wants and expectations.

In my experience, I recommend that you do not have more than 3 Personas, as this would dilute your marketing message.
Resources to build a successful business

How to build your Personas + template

Let's break down how to build your Personas, step by step.
Persona Template
At the top left, we see the name and avatar. Choosing an authentic image is important because it helps you understand your users better and keeps them consistent. We also have the basic information such as age, location and job role. This information helps us to better understand who is using our service.
Persona Template
We also have more information about their personality.

Does this customer make decisions from a rational or emotional PoV?
Are they open-minded or biased?
Is the customer a technical expert or a technovice?

This information will later help us with the messaging we use to reach these people. And the last part we find on the left is the mission statement.
Persona Template
The mission statement shows the vision and goals of the specific customer. It is important to keep the mission statement short and to the point. Once you have built your solution, you can go back to this mission statement and ask yourself if you are solving the problem that this specific person has.

Alright, we have covered the left side, the basic information. Now we move on to the most important part - the key questions.
Persona Template
What keeps my potential customer up at night?
Here we are talking about the frustrations your potential customers are currently experiencing. If you really understand what keeps your potential customers up at night and what worries them, you can build a solution that solves their problem and makes them successful.
What motivates my customers to solve their problem?
The reason we need to answer this question is to understand why they are actively looking for a solution. Is it just something that is not too important to them or something that they really need to solve?

Let us take an example:
You have a consulting agency and you offer marketing advice to start-ups to get new customers. The motivation of these startups might be that if they do not hire you, they will not get new customers and eventually go out of business. So they are really committed to solving their problem.

That would be a powerful motivation.
What is the desired future state for my customers, what are their goals?
Every service out there, every business out there, is nothing more than a solution to a specific problem. Big insurance companies are there to protect people from losses that might happen in the future. Cameras are there to help you preserve your memories and experiences from the past.

So remember, every company and every product is here to make its target audience successful. Therefore, it is crucial to understand what our customers actually want to achieve and what success would look like to them. If you do not know this, you may create a solution that is valuable, but not practical to use, and therefore will not make the audience successful.

If you have been paying attention, you will notice that there is one square missing. Of course, you can add any information that will help you get a better picture of your audience. But what I like to do here is ask the question:

How can we reach our customers?

Going back to our previous example of Jacky and Carl, we need to find different marketing channels to reach both of them. In total there are 19 marketing channels you can use. For example: Search engine marketing, content marketing, social media marketing or offline marketing with flyers or posters.

Depending on the customer profile, you will need different marketing channels to reach them.

And now - once you have created your first Persona - it is time to validate it.
How to validate your Personas
Validating your Personas means talking to people who might fit the customer type you have built.
You want proof that your assumptions are accurate.

How to validate your Personas

Validating your Personas means talking to people who might fit the customer type you have built. This could be friends, family or people who are actively looking for the solution you offer.

I once worked with a startup that built an app for freelancers to easily find co-working spaces. What they did for validation was to go to coworking spaces and talk to the freelancers there, which gave them a lot of insight to refine their initial assumptions and better understand their customers' motivations and desires. And they did all this before writing a single line of code.

So basically you want proof that your assumptions are accurate and that you are solving a real pain point for people.
Buyer and user persona
If you want to sell your product, you need to address both, buyer and user persona.
Always ask yourself...
Who is making the final decision

Buyer vs. user Personas

When we talk about which Persona you should build, there is one very important concept you need to be aware of. It is called the buyer vs. user Persona.

Let us use an example:

Say you want to create a children's book with great illustrations. But who actually reads the book and who buys the book? Who makes the decisions? For our book we have two potential customers.
Buyer and user persona example
On the one hand, we have the child who is excited to read the book because of the great cover. On the other hand, we have the mother who wants her child to have the best education possible and who wants her child to read things that will teach them.

So when we want to sell our book, we have to take these 2 potential buyers into account. When we are dealing with a buyer and a user Persona, we should always ask ourselves who is going to make the final decision. The child will undoubtedly influence the mother. But at the end of the day it is the mother who makes the purchase decision.

So think about what educational content, wording and design you might need to convince both.
5 Tips for building your personas
Do user research
Use great images
Validate and update your assumptions
Start asking the right questions
Don't create too many personas

5 pro tips for building your Personas

There are many things to consider and mistakes to avoid when building effective Personas - let me show you 5 pro tips:

Do user research first

It is great to start with Personas. But it is even better to validate your idea in the first place. If you already have an idea of who your service is valuable to, go to them and ask them the following questions directly:

Dear customer,

How do you currently... (fill in the problem you are trying to solve)
What's the most annoying thing about the way you...(Fill in the problem you're trying to solve)?
Why haven't you changed it already?
In an ideal world, how would it work for you?
Because I am thinking about creating... (Fill in your solution)
Would this be valuable to you? Why? Why not?

With these insights, you can then create your Persona.

Use great images

This may sound obvious, but you would not believe how often I have seen people using either pixelated images, random avatars or no image at all.

However, using high quality images is super important to really identify with the Persona and get a better understanding of who they are. I also strongly recommend using royalty free images.

Royalty free images mean that you can use them for both personal and commercial use. The reason this is important is that if you are working on a marketing strategy within a large company and people are sending your Personas from one company to another, you could get in trouble for using copyrighted images. Don't do that.

The images I use are mostly from Pexels and Unsplash because they are high quality and royalty free.

Validate & regularly update your assumptions

Today's markets change so quickly that you need to adapt your offering regularly. Personas will help you do this, but not if they are out of date.

Make it a habit to regularly revisit your Personas and remind yourself who your target audience is. Are you targeting the right market? What value can you bring to them, what vision do they have, what do they really want?

As you iterate, you may find that people have new needs and that you can help them succeed by tweaking your service. With this new insight, update your original Persona and develop your service in a way that your target audience will love.

Not only will you attract new customers, but you will also be able to win back customers who have left your service.
Regularly update your Personas.

Start asking the right questions

We have already talked about how many Personas consist of things like demographics, interests or skills.

Here is the problem:
Although this information can help you understand your users better, it is often meaningless. That's why I strongly recommend focusing on the frustrations, motivations and desired future states of your potential customers. Later you can add information like demographics if it helps you understand your users better.

But focus on the important stuff first.

Don't create too many Personas

A service for everyone is a service for nobody. So stop worrying about pleasing everyone and start focusing. From my experience, I recommend not having more than 3 Personas, as it dilutes your marketing message otherwise.

When you start focusing on specific customers you will be able to use your marketing budget effectively, find the right marketing channels and get customers who are willing to pay for your service.

Wrap-up & what's next

Personas are fictional characters that represent your target audience and are the solid foundation of any successful business. If you do not know who your target audience is and how to reach them, you will waste thousands of dollars on mass marketing without any real success.

It does not matter if you have just started your business or have been in business for many years, they can help you make the most of your marketing budget and create a solution that people will buy.

But they are just one building block in creating a successful business. If you are looking for a step-by-step system to help you build the business of your dreams, the Startup Success Bundle is for you.

Check it out!