Creating Client Characters

Sep 9, 2014 | Business Basics, Marketing


I once had a client called Margaret. She was around fifty years old, female (obviously), and a middle-manager in her not-for-profit organisation. She had people below her in the pecking order, and people above – people that she was responsible for and accountable to. She was a lifelong public servant, dedicated to the charity she worked for, and hoping that by hiring my production company I would use my creativity and professionalism to create a program that she could be proud of, and that would service the needs of her stakeholders.

Thing is, Margaret wasn’t real. She was a persona, a character, a fiction that I created based on a stereotypical profile of my client base. I grouped all the traits of my clients together, past ones and potential ones, and created Margaret from their common denominators. Even though she wasn’t real, Margaret helped me more than I can say when it came to defining who my marketing strategies were aimed at, and whether or not they were working.

Client profiling is based on the idea that groups of people will exhibit certain types of behaviours and attitudes that allow you to make generalised assumptions about them. Any single individual in the group might not possess all of those behaviours and attitudes, but you can assume there will be enough similarities that you can make an educated guess about the group as a whole. For example, if I assembled twenty women who were around forty years old, you could safely assume that a healthy proportion of them would-be mothers. They might not all be mothers, but it’s a low-risk assumption.

By grouping your potential clients together in the same way, you can make assumptions about them that can guide your marketing. For example, fictitious Margaret would not like me to have a personal Facebook page as part of my marketing suite. She would think that was silly, and would probably not trust me as much to be professional. On the other hand, a well-constructed Linked In profile would make a Margaret very happy indeed.

If you fancy giving the client profile a go, take it in steps. First, describe them. Who are your ideal clients or customers and what similarities do they have to each other? Think about:

  • Demographics – their gender, age, income, the area they live in.
  • Psychographics – their personality type, values, family and lifestyle.
  • Work-Life – where do they fit in their business? Self-employed, middle manager, boss?
  • Behaviour – their likes and dislikes, sports, hobbies, and interests.

Now, where are they? Find the places your clients are gathering, whether in a physical location or cyberspace.

  • Where do they hang out in real life? Or online?
  • What do they read?
  • What media do they consume?
  • What do they search for online?

Now, think about how they buy. Most people buy products or services to fill a need, solve a problem or enhance their quality of life. Sometimes, it’s all three.

  • What is the problem or need that your clients are trying to resolve?
  • What are the benefits they hope to gain by finding a solution?
  • Where do they begin their research? The internet? World of mouth?

If you’re new to creative business, this is going to be an experiment in conjuring perfect clients from thin air.  If you already have clients, though, reach out to them for more information. Think about the following –

  • Why did that client originally buy from me?
  • Where did they come from in the first place?
  • If they continue to buy from me, why? And if not, why not?
  • What do I offer or provide that my competitors don’t?

Now, use all the information you’ve gathered to create profiles that describe specific segments of your current clients. Make the profiles tangible, so that you can envision this person and what would motivate them to hire you and your business.

  • Describe your clients in specific written profiles.
  • Give them a persona or name, to make identification easier – like Margaret.
  • Make images or photos of ideal clients, either real or a hypothetical individual, if it helps you define who they are.

Once you have completed these steps you’ll have a clearer picture of who your clients are likely to be, and you’ll then be able to better identify the strategies that will work for those different client groups. That might include:

  • Better use of social media avenues;
  • Choosing more appropriate networking events to attend;
  • Making alliances with other businesses or providers;
  • Developing new products or services to better meet clients’ needs.

With any luck, creating client or customer profiles will help you redirect your marketing time and budget into strategies that work. A Margaret, a Christopher or a Trixibelle could be the key to a more successful creative business.

Article by Monica Davidson (c) 2014


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