Customer profiles are one of the most important documents a marketer can create.
They can reveal integral pieces of information, such as what products will sell, what promotions will work, when and where to open shop, and which marketing emails to send, to name a few.
What is a customer profile?
A customer profile is a persona based on a customer’s demographics, behavior, purchasing history, geographics and more, that helps guide sales and marketing outreach.
If you’re curious about all the other marketing efforts customer profiles can impact, check out “What is Marketing” for inspiration.
Scratching your head as to how all of this can be feasible? Take a moment to think back on your experience as a consumer. Have you ever received an ad or promotion that just spoke to you? Almost like they knew you?
It’s not a coincidence. They do know you.
The business reaching out to you had taken significant time, effort, and research to get to know you, so they can then talk to you like a trusted friend. The business’ marketing team knows exactly what images will appeal to you, what social media channel to reach you on, and what time of year you’d like to buy the product or service.
It’s all thanks to customer profiles.
If you’re looking to create customer profiles for the first time or looking to enhance current customer profiles, you’ve come to the right place.
We'll go over:
- How to create a customer profile, including what categories to consider
- How to use a customer profile
- Customer profile examples (showcased in beautiful illustrations!)
Creating customer profiles
If you ever played Sims growing up – does that age me? – then think of customer profiles like that. You’re building an avatar of sorts, a persona that describes a wide swath of your customers. Of course, each customer is a unique snowflake, but for the sake of marketing, it’s easiest to clump together customers by their similarities.
You can discover these similarities among customers by conducting research. Research can take many forms, such as sending out an email survey, setting up focus groups, or simply conversing with customers when they’re in your store.
As we go through how to create a customer profile, let’s use an upscale hair salon that specializes in special event hairstyles as an example.
Here are the different categories you should consider when creating a persona.
These are the basic facts about your customers. You can probably glean this information simply by observing them. Important demographic information includes: age, city, gender, race, ethnicity, and physical characteristics (such as body type, hairstyles, etc.)
For example, a forty-something man that dresses well, lives in Chicago and has close-cut hair will probably need to make multiple visits to a salon to keep his hair fresh for whatever corporate job he has.
Socioeconomic considerations could be household income, education, neighborhood, occupation, and household composition.
Sticking with our salon example, if you have a customer who lives in a prestigious neighborhood, her desire to keep up with the ‘Joneses’ might outweigh any worries about getting the lowest price.
This includes interests, hobbies, favorite TV shows (and music, websites, media, etc.), spending habits, anxieties, and political views, to name a few.
One of the main salon customers is homecoming and prom attendees. Most likely, girls will be hoping to look like one of the pop culture icons of that year. Back in my high school homecoming days, I think the big inspirations were Hillary Duff, Emma Watson, and Miley Cyrus (pre-Wrecking Ball).
Why do customers use your brand? What do they get out of it? How often do they use the product or receive the service?
Knowing how loyal your customers are is important, as there is spending power behind customer loyalty. A reported 66 percent of U.S. consumers stated they were likely to spend more on brands they were loyal to compared to other brands.
For example, brides are another source of revenue for the salon. They are hoping to have the best hair day of their lives and if you don’t deliver that in this one instance, you risk bad reviews getting out to other brides. If you do deliver it, the bride may be back for her regular haircuts, or she will encourage other brides to try out the salon on their big days.
After you aggregated this data about your customers, group them into buckets based on similarities. Most likely, you will have more than one customer profile. For your own sanity, I’d try to create no more than five profiles. Plus, if you have more than five, perhaps your product or service is too broad and thus not strongly appealing to specific people.
Once created, customer profiles can help you decide which PR campaign to embark on. Ask yourself, “What would Angela think?” as you create messaging targeted toward the Angelas in your customer base.
Customer profiles can also guide your marketing plan. Now you know which medium will be most effective for reaching your different customers: TV ads, Facebook, in-store promotions, Pinterest, newspaper, direct mail, Twitter, radio, etc.
You’ll know which promotions your customers are most interested in. This could be events, giveaways, new products, demos or discounts. And you’ll know what images, fonts, colors, jokes, and references will catch their attention.
Customer profiles will also reveal what you can do to convince customers that what you offer is the best offering around. You can alleviate any anxiety by touting warranties, exceptional customer service, guarantees, etc.
This exercise shows what will not work, which is equally as important as knowing what will. For example, if your customer base is in high school, don’t reference I Love Lucy. Or if your customers tend to be above 55-years-old, don’t use tiny, hard-to-read fonts.
On the sales side of things, you can use CRM software to help you sort all the information you just gathered and strategize appropriately. The software can help you pair up customer profiles with individual leads and prospects, so you can use similar sales pitches to the marketing messaging you used for those customers.
Want to see this strategy in action? Let’s go back to our upscale hair salon example. We’ve done our research and broken down our customers into three customer profiles:
- Regular clients
- Homecoming or prom attendees
- Brides and their wedding parties
Here’s what their profiles might look like.
TIP: For more industry-specific examples on customer profiles, here are 19 customer profile segmentation examples for e-commerce businesses.
Customer profiles are worth it
If your marketing efforts aren’t quite striking gold, take a time-out and evaluate your customers. Think about what it is you need to know so you can satisfy their needs. Decide what research method to conduct in order to gather this data: email surveys, focus groups, face-to-face feedback, etc. This exercise may take some time, but it’s worth it. Remember, if you don’t know who you’re selling to, you can’t know how to sell.
Want more marketing magic? Learn about experiential marketing and how it can take your efforts to the next level.