Customer Personas: 6 Steps to Target Your Ideal Client

Stanley Marcus of Neiman Marcus once said, “Consumers are statistics. Customers are people.”  As you are focusing your business, it is crucial to understand who your ideal customer is.  Different personas require different language, messages, channels of communication, and promotions to reach them. Learn how to target your ideal client.

Customer Personas: 6 Steps to Target Your Ideal ClientPutting a Face to a Name

Have you ever run into someone around town, and you just know that you should know their name?  Their face is so familiar.  It’s a serendipitous moment, a chance meeting, even an opportunity.  We pass by each other so easily in our modern world that has gone global and purports interconnectedness.  But, we may just be going through the motions, without going below the surface and establishing meaning to our interactions.  

Where does this human element fit into your strategic business plan?  I would argue that putting a face to a name is an essential step in building a targeted marketing campaign — a campaign with the potential for massive results and the highest return on investment!  What is your product or service without first identifying its target audience?  You have to recognize the face of your very human customer and right-fit client.  As an entrepreneur, you cannot depend on the tired, been-there-done-that marketing.  I am going to tell you how to get started and give you the insights that you need to create customer personas that match your ideal client.


In 2009, a Forbes Insights study revealed that 80% of the 760 top producing business executives that were polled considered face-to-face interactions most valuable.  Why?  They cited that they lead to stronger, more meaningful relationships.  What is even more influential is the fact that, of those leading business executives, half were from small businesses.  That is not to say that virtual meetings do not hold value and place in business, because it does, but for our purposes face-to-face meetings with your client is crucial.  What specifically influences a face-to-face interaction?

  • 91% say the ability to persuade
  • 87% say demonstrating leadership
  • 85% say fostering engagement
  • 85% say empowering through inspiration
  • 82% say access to decision making

Why wouldn’t you apply this proven principle to your most important asset – your customer?  No targeted marketing plan can succeed without first considering the most basic characteristics of who your customer is.  It requires a methodical analysis of the kind of clients you already attract and the clients you hope to touch with your product or service.  

To start, we need to backtrack.  Who is that most valuable partner in your business and what does this VIP look like?  I encourage you to walk the walk with me and come face-to-face with your ideal client.  

The Psychology Behind It

So, what does it mean to put a face to a name?  In the realm of psychology, recognizing faces and remembering names requires deeper knowledge about a person.  That means seeking out semantic information, or what we can call meaningful knowledge, about where a person lives or what they do.  We have to go out of our way to make the connection between the faces and names.  

Now, how do we apply it?  We develop personas to uncover meaningful knowledge about our customers.  A customer persona is a story that you construct in order to better understand who your best-fit client is and how to best reach them.  It is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data.  I challenge you to make those connections with your current and future clients, constructing a real-world audience, so you can build a thriving customer base.  

There are many things to consider when drafting customer personas.  At the end of the day, though, it is about finding intersections and commonality.  Your objective is to find that sweet spot, recognizing common trends between behavior patterns, shared pressure points, universal goals, and generalized demographic and biographic facts.  Give your customer a face and meet them face-to-face on an even playing field.  You will be surprised what their story can do to better market your business!

The Benefits

Identifying the people who best match your product or services just makes sense.  Knowing who they are, what they want and need, can empower you as a business owner.  There is no better way to generate a marketing campaign that actually works!  Collecting this kind of information can provide you with leverage to maximize your lead generation and conversion.  Different personas require different target language, messages, channels of communication, and promotions to reach them.  If you do it right, your message hits home with your right-fit client.

The trends will reveal themselves if you seek them out.  Where do you turn to gather information?

  • Contacts – search your database for common denominators amongst converted leads
  • Forms – entry or exit forms on your website to collect persona specific information
  • Interviews – in-person or over the phone interactions to discover further insights

What manifests in this new landscape of targeted marketing?  Greater personal connection to your ideal client through tailored content, access points, and value sets.  You will be able to determine the best way to reach your perfect client based on qualitative and quantitative data.  Backed with information, you can then create tools that strategically attract the customers of your dreams, and really test the waters for that hidden potential.

Customer Personas: 6 Steps to Target Your Ideal Client

Naming Your Ideal Client

It’s time to meet your ideal client.  After building 10 successful businesses, and with over 3 decades of experience as a business coach, I have condensed the process of creating customer personas into 6 simple steps from start to finish.  Follow this Allison Maslan created checklist and the exercise will leave you with 2 or more well-defined customer personas that can apply to your business plan right away!  The goal is build a composite that will help you get to know your right-fit client.  Let’s get started!

Hit on Targeted Questions

Where do start with collecting data?  Here is where forms and surveys come into play.  These tools allow you to interact with past and potential customers in a way that is simple and beneficial for everyone involved.  There are no strings attached!  Take advantage of an opportunity to catch people when they are encountering your product for the first time, or are already well acquainted with what you have to offer.  Remember, this can be online or offline, multiple choice or open-ended, but keep it to 7-10 questions to guarantee a high response rate and quality of information.

Keep in mind, you should be after a specific set of information.  What is significant for you?  Are you clients after a solution to a specific problem or dilemma?  Are they from a particular industry, age group, or demographic?  Perhaps, you want to know what factors played into getting them to the tipping point of making a decision to go with you.  The possibilities are endless and the potential is limitless.  Go for the target and ask for the answers that you need to better market yourself!

Aim for Targeted Interviews

Like we discussed at the onset, sometimes human interactions are still the best way to gather valuable information from those you want to reach the most.  To start the interview process, prepare, prepare, prepare!  Think ahead to identify your goals for the interview and determine the information you are looking for.  The end goal should justify the means – ask meaningful questions to attain meaningful information.  This is how we will later determine which customer personas define your ideal client base.

Get in touch!  Reach out to your existing customers and create a call to action.  For example, an email campaign might incite your clients to participate in a one-on-one interview with a member of your team in exchange for a discount or gift card.  Be sure to outline the expectations.  The timing should be flexible and the survey should be reasonable in length.  Again, this can be done over the phone or in-person.  Whatever feels authentic to you and your business is the way to go.

An added bonus – this step in the process provides an opportunity, a touchpoint that builds upon a personal connection.  Give your clients the chance to open up, get comfortable with giving feedback, and feel rewarded.  It’s a personal touch that just so happens to also pin-point the personas you want to attract.  

Name Your Client

Who is your current customer and ideal client?  There are plenty of characteristics that make up a person.  What defines their choices to consume content, seek out products, and select services?  We are talking about getting to know them on a basic level, in order to then understand their motivations, choices, and hesitations.  Start with fleshing out these items:

  • Personal Background – age, family status, and education
  • Business Experience – Industry, size of the company, track record, or resume
  • Mindset – attitudes, values, or lifestyle

Demographics and psychographics paint a picture of the person at their foundation.  Start with the primary colors (the basics), before you work up to the full spectrum (the idiosyncrasies that make up a character).  The storyline will naturally build itself from there.

Customer Personas: 6 Steps to Target Your Ideal Client

Tell Their Story

Where does your customer spend his or her time?  Walk a day in their shoes.  Where do they search out their information?   Think visual, auditory, and virtual.  You want to know what websites they visit, what blogs they read, what videos they watch, what podcast they listen to, and what events they attend.  Make a list of what that looks like for a specific persona.  That kind of meaningful knowledge paints your target on the wall.

Take account of and attend to their preferences.  Not every client, let alone your ideal client, can be reached in the exact same way.  Communication becomes an open highway when you choose the right mode of transportation.  Each customer persona that you build will have a story that you need to consider.  Listening to that story and adjusting what you have to offer to align with that story is the key.

Define Their Journey

We need to dive in deeper.  Now, it is time to sketch out the customer’s past and future trajectory.  What is your right-fit client looking to accomplish?  Outline their goals and describe their challenges.  At every level, customers are trying to figure out what they are responsible for and what success means to them in their role.  Their biggest challenges should be met with solutions from you for how to overcome these obstacles.  It makes for a perfect match!

Understanding the problems your customers face helps you identify what content they find most valuable.  The insights that these personas provide you with will highlight your customers’ true needs and wants.  This removes the guesswork, open the door to less trial and error.  It will suddenly become clear what topics you need to address and speak to when developing your content and programs across the board.

Piece Together Their World

Everyone has a personal sphere of influence – a business network that they plug into for new or validating information.  This is their watering hole.  We all seek out our own oases of information within social networks whether virtual or physical, published information whether formal or informal, and solutions whether online or offline.  To better understand your ideal client and build a marketing campaign to better reach them you need to construct the reality that each of your customer personas lives in.  

Use the information that you collect and the personas that you create to establish a personal connection with your clients.  Directing your messages in a more personalized way will empower you to nurture quality lead generation and programs that deliver better customers!  At its heart, marketing is communication, targeted scripting that moves your product or services from inception to your ideal customer.  Enter their world, think like they do, and influence them at their level.  You will walk away with a concrete direction and tailored strategies to bring them to your finish line.

The Takeaway

The human element is not one to be overlooked in business.  You are an entrepreneur!  You know better than anyone that passion met with a zest for success is the perfect formula for prosperity both in business and in life.  Passion, emotion, individuality – it’s all part of the human element.  

Putting a face to the name of you ideal client will connect you to people.  That kind of interconnectedness is powerful.  Create an abundant customer base that promises massive growth and success.  The steps are laid out in front of you.  You might just learn that your right-fit clients can teach you more about your business than you ever thought possible!

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Allison Maslan

Allison Maslan

Allison Maslan, CEO of Pinnacle Global Network, is the Wall Street Journal Best Selling Author of Scale or Fail, which is endorsed by Daymond John and Barbara Corcoran of Shark Tank. Allison’s built 10 successful companies starting out at age 19.

Now she and her team of CEO Mentors pay it forward by helping business owners scale their companies, fast-track their success, and create a more meaningful life. Pinnacle Global Network, a world leader in scaling companies and empowering business leaders has guided thousands of CEO's and Founders to success over the past decade. Allison’s been featured in Inc., Success, Fortune, Fast Company, and Forbes Magazines, is a regular contributor to Entrepreneur Magazine, and a featured expert on ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, and Fox across the US. She is also the host and producer of The Scale or Fail Show podcast, and the Women Who Own it Podcast in partnership with WBENC, the largest certifier of women-owned businesses in North America.

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