Creating Client Characters

Sep 1, 2021 | Blog, Business Basics, Marketing

By Monica Davidson

Back in the days when I was still running my production company TwoShotMedia, I had a client called Margaret. She was in her mid-fifties, female, 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 company I would use my creativity and professionalism to create a series of screen content that she could be proud of, and that would service the needs of her stakeholders. In terms of her personal life, she was also married, with two grown sons and a grandchild on the way.

She also wasn’t real. 

Margaret was a buyer persona, a fictionalised character that I created based on a stereotypical profile of my client base. I created her by grouping together all the professional and personal traits of my existing and past clients, threw some market research into the mix, and out popped Margaret. The purpose of Margaret was to help me make better marketing decisions and guide my overall strategic approach. 

Would Margaret like my company to have its own website? Yes, she would. She trusts that sort of digital marketing. Would she respond to my Facebook posts? Probably not, because for her Facebook is all about the personal. Would she connect with me on LinkedIn? Absolutely. And Tik Tok? Not a chance. 

Even though she wasn’t real, Margaret helped me more than I can say when it came to defining my target market and measuring the success of my strategies.

Creating personas, or client/customer profiling, is based on the sociological idea that the behaviour of groups of people can be better predicted than the individual. Groups will exhibit certain 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 buyers together in the same way, you can make assumptions about them that can guide your marketing. 

If you fancy giving the client profile a go, take it in steps. You may have more than one buyer group, so you may need multiple personas. For example, if you sell to both the general public and corporate clients, you will need two personas. 

If you fancy giving the client profile a go, take it in steps. You may have more than one buyer group, so you may need multiple personas. For example, if you sell to both the general public and corporate clients, you will need two personas. 

First, who are they? What similarities do your ideal customers share? 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 online.

  • Where do they hang out?
  • What social media do they consume?
  • What do they search for online?

Then, 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? Google? Reviews? Word of mouth?

If you’re new to creative business, this is going to be an experiment in conjuring perfect clients from thin air. That’s OK, it’s not a process of being right or wrong. It’s an experimental way of guiding your research and decisions. Be open to making mistakes, and learning from them, as you finesse your personas. 

Use them to guide your research. Ask yourself:  

  • 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 personas 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 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 platforms;
  • 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 buyer personas 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.

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