What if you knew everything about your customers before they walked through the door? Surely selling would be much easier if you knew their budget range, favorite colors, method of transportation, living situation, and so on.
Unfortunately, this technology doesn’t exist. However, as a small business owner, you can use the next best thing: customer profiles. In this article we’ll show you how to create and use customer profiles with Pipedrive, a great CRM for small business who want to track and target their customers with ease. Click here to start a free trial and follow along.
Customer Profile Template
Our customer profile template is a list of questions with instructions that will help you craft your customer profile(s). You can print it as a PDF and fill out your answers, or download it as a Word document to fill it out digitally.
Below we’ll walk through the steps in more detail, so we highly recommend following along with this template.
What is a Customer Profile?
A customer profile is a generalized description of your ideal customer. It includes their demographics, likes/dislikes, preferred media channels (i.e. Facebook, email, TV), and more. Writing profiles allows you to find products and services that are better suited for your customers and market them to them more effectively.
A completed customer profile is sometimes called an avatar, since it’s essentially a full-blown character with a name, age, and physical features. Now when you’re thinking about a new product or marketing campaign, you can ask yourself, what would Becky think of this?
Customer Profile Example: Urban Cake Shop
Here’s an example of what a completed set of customer profiles look like. Urban Cake Shop is a bakery that serves three major kinds of customers. Below you can read an abridged version of each profile:
|Morning Commuters||Seasonal Celebrators||One-time Weddings|
|Description||Come often, spend little. Our most common customer stops in for a quick coffee and pastry in the morning.||Middle-aged matriarchs catering their celebrations. A smaller segment, but our biggest source of revenue.||Though only a tiny portion of our customers, newlyweds-to-be make up 15% of our revenue.|
|Age Range||25 - 45||35 - 55||26 - 38|
|What’s most important to them?||Fast service and fresh food/coffee||Unique seasonal treats that make celebrations special||Unique flavors, attentive service, delivery option|
|How to market to Them?||Use sidewalk promotions to draw them in. Loyalty rewards and email coupons will bring them back.||Email marketing with seasonal/holiday promotions. Also, show off latest creations on Instagram.||Use targeted Facebook ads to draw them in. Continue promoting with wedding newsletter & Instagram/Pinterest posts.|
|Preferred channels?||Email, Loyalty App||Email, Instagram, Facebook, Direct Mail||Email, Facebook, Pinterest|
Each of my customer segments are unique — not only in their physical description and the types of products they buy, but in the values that keep them coming back to my business.
Morning Commuters are most concerned about getting to work on time with a fresh cup of coffee. They’ll keep coming back to my business as long as I’m well-staffed during the morning rush, and providing high-quality coffee and fresh pastries. Coupons also work great to encourage frequent visits.
Seasonal Celebrators have a much stronger connection to my business: custom cake/treat orders serve their family parties where they can also be a major talking point. As such, Seasonal Celebrators rely on my business to keep their families in good spirits. Price/coupons are less effective since these customers are willing to pay a premium. Instead, they’re motivated by my unique seasonal creations, which I share with them on Instagram and Facebook.
One-Time Weddings come to us with huge catering orders. It’s a unique segment in that they rarely don’t order more than once, yet still make up a huge portion of our revenue. Wedding customers prioritize taste and ease of service above all else. The last thing they want is an extra hassle on their wedding day, so we do our best to alleviate their anxieties with bonuses like free deliveries and in-store tastings.
How to Create Customer Profiles
To create customer profiles, you’ll answer a series of questions that help identify and describe your top customers. Bear in mind, your profile is a generalization. It does not describe each and every customer, although it does describe a majority.
You may create more than one profile if you notice a few different common types of customers. For example, as we show further below, my bakery has three customer profiles: Morning Commuters, Seasonal Celebrators, and One-Time Weddings. Jump ahead to see the full customer profile example.
Demographics vs. Psychographics
Before we dive into building your profile(s), we have to make an important distinction. Customer profiles require two types of research:
- Demographics — physical characteristics, including age, gender, education, occupation, and income
- Psychographics — behavior and beliefs, including personality, hobbies, style, and humor
Both these must be used in combination in order to create your avatar. Physical characteristics like age and gender can’t tell you exactly what drives a customer to your business. Understanding their values, however, and the problems they’re trying to solve WILL help you answer this.
We’ll start out by answering the demographic questions about your customer. If you’re already in business, this should be fairly easy since all you need to do is visualize your customer. Start describing them with the following terms:
- Education Level
- Living Situation
- Physical Characteristics (body type, hairstyle)
If you haven’t already, I encourage you to download our customer profile template which provides these as a list of questions with explanations and examples.
While it may be OK to go with your gut on some answers, it’s always better to back them up with data. Try spending a few hours tracking the customers who purchase in your shop. When possible, strike up a conversation to learn about their neighborhood and family.
For more information, check out our Fit Small Business guide on customer foot traffic.
The next step is to explore the psychographics, or mental characteristics, including beliefs and interests, that define your customer.
This step is a bit trickier since you can’t simply look at a customer to find these answers. You need to strike up conversations with customers who fit your profile demographically and explore the following topics:
- Favorite TV shows, music, websites, or media
- Spending habits
- Political views
Although psychographics can cover a wide range of topics, focus on questions that relate to your business: What are their biggest fear/anxieties when it comes to your type of business/product? What problem are they trying to solve by using your product?
Likewise, you want to research hobbies and interests to learn more about the types of products and marketing materials that could appeal to your customers. If you have a physical store, the best way to get these answers is to simply head out on the floor and start talking with customers. If you feel uncomfortable asking personal questions, you can also organize a focus group, or send out an email survey.
Remember, the reason you’re making a customer profile is not just to have a cool avatar hanging on your wall. It’s so you can figure out how to sell and market better to your different customer segments. That’s why I encourage pulling together all your research and writing down some real changes you can make to start boosting sales.
Now that you have a solid customer profile in mind, start thinking about the following questions:
- What is the best way to reach this customer? TV ads, radio, newspaper, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, direct mail, in-store promotions, or SMS marketing?
- What types of promotions are going to engage this customer? Discounts, giveaways, add-ons, new products, events? Also consider which types of images, messages, fonts, Facebook posts, etc. will catch their interest.
- What types of promotions are not going to work?
- What steps can I take to alleviate their anxiety? Guarantees, warranties, exceptional customer service?
- What types of new products are going to interest this customer?
It’s equally important to think about what won’t work in addition to what will work. If your customers tend to be over the age of 60, rule out small fonts in marketing emails or flyers. If your psychographic research indicates the customer has passionate beliefs about your product, rule out any lighthearted humor. Building a set of rules will make things much easier when you actually start designing your marketing campaigns.
Pro Tip: Find Top Profiles In Your Neighborhood
If you’re having trouble getting your customer profiles started, you can use a free online tool that shows you common customer profiles in your area.
Nielsen’s Segmentations Solutions allows you to look up any 5-digit zip code and returns a list of the most common profiles (or “segments,” as they’re known on the website.) Some examples include Movers & Shakers: Suburban dual-income couples who are highly educated between the ages of 45 and 64. Or Young Digerati: Wealthy, tech-savvy family mix who live in trendy apartments and condos.
The categories are fairly broad since they refer to entire households instead of individuals. Nonetheless, it’s perfect if you need some inspiration or want a foundation to build off.
How to Create Customer Profiles in Pipedrive Digital CRM
If you have more than one type of customer, you’ll need more than one customer profile. Multiple customer profiles allow your sales team to adjust its strategies based on the needs and interests of each type of customer.
A great customer relationship management (CRM) system lets you pair customer profiles with individual leads and prospects. Your sales team can either add customer profile information manually or automatically generate a customer profile based on how the leads were sourced. For example, leads generated from a white paper for IT executives would be assigned a different customer profile than leads gathered at a conference for senior executives.
With Pipedrive CRM, you can create custom fields to store valuable information in a standardized way so your sales team can identify which customer profile applies to a prospect or client. Take a minute to sign up for a free trial and follow along as we show you how to create custom fields in Pipedrive.
Let’s create a custom field for our customers called tags. Tags allow you to sort leads, customers, and accounts based on their customer profile. Simply enter the tag when you save the contact. To create a custom field for our tags, first click on the widget icon next to your customer details and then click on ‘Customize fields.’
Next, follow these steps:
- Click on ‘+ Add a new field’
- Enter the field name (let’s use ‘Customer Tag’)
- Select ‘Multiple options’ for the field type
This will let you create a standard list of tags to help ensure consistency. Let’s enter the three customer profiles from my bakery — Morning Commuter, Seasonal Celebrator, and One-Time Wedding.
- Type each profile type into the Values field, clicking on the + to add a new value
- Check the box beside ‘Always visible on sidebar’
- Check the box beside ‘Appears in “Add new person” dialogue.’
Your completed custom fields should look like this:
Once you’re done, click ‘Save’ and then ‘Done.’ Now you’ll see ‘Customer Tag’ listed below the contact information in the Details section. When you mouse-over ‘Customer Tag’ and click on ‘+ Add value,’ you’ll see a drop-down menu to select which customer type to assign to that customer profile.
Let’s call me a Morning Commuter. You can assign multiple tags to a customer profile, but for the sake of this guide we’ll just use the one. Click on ‘Morning Commuter’ and then ‘Save.’
How to Segment Customers using Tags
Now that you have your customers tagged by type, you can easily filter your main contact list to only display the type you want to target. First, click on ‘Contacts’ in the primary navigation bar at the top and then ‘People’ in the sub-navigation drop-down menu. This will display your full contact list.
To filter your contact list by customer profile type, follow these steps:
- Click on the ‘Filter’ button (by default, ‘Everyone’ will be the text on the button) to display the menu
- Click on ‘+ Add new filter’
- Under ‘Show people that match ALL of these conditions:’ click on ‘+ Add condition’
- Leave ‘Person’ selected in the first field and select ‘Customer Tag’ in the second
- In the new fields that appear, leave ‘Is’ selected in the first field and select ‘Morning Commuter’ in the second — a drop-down menu will appear when you click on the field
- Click ‘Save’
Now when you click on the ‘Filter’ button, your ‘Morning Commuter’ filter will appear in the list of available filters.
Selecting that filter will limit your contact list to only those customers that you’ve tagged with ‘Morning Commuter.’ You can now view the list, export it to a file, or export it to a third-party application, such as MailChimp, that you’ve integrated with Pipedrive.
The Bottom Line
Creating a customer profile is one of the most important steps you can take as a business owner. It informs countless decisions you’ll make about your business, from the products you shelve to the promotions you run, marketing emails you send, color schemes, fonts, taglines, employee uniforms – the list goes on.
Most of us have a customer profile in mind already when we make these decisions, consciously or subconsciously. Getting your profile down on paper and backing it up with research is a small step you can take to make sure your assumptions are accurate.