The textbook definition of a customer profile is a detailed description of your ideal target buyer, taken from a combination of traits collected from your best customers or ideal audience. But there's an even more useful definition of a customer profile, which is:

A comprehensive guide that includes all the ways you can reach and attract the customers most likely to love your product.

A customer profile may appear to be an in-depth look at a single consumer, with a photo, name, and description of who they are, what they like and even what they think. But really, it's as if you took your best customers and distilled them down into one person who has their key characteristics. Essentially, when you get to know this fictional customer, you'll have everything you need to reach thousands of real, live purchasers.

step 1

Define the exact target you want to reach

The first step in creating your customer profile is to figure out who your bests customers are and what they have in common. This is relatively easy if your business has been around for a while and you've had a chance to observe which customers stick around, and which customers drift away. However, if your business is new and your product hasn't hit the market yet (or hasn't gained enough of a following for you to tell who will stay and who will go), you can start by taking a good look at your value proposition to answer these questions:

  • What problem does your product or service solve?
  • Who has this problem?
  • Why do they have this problem, and what is at stake if they fail to solve it?
  • What do they stand to gain?

In answering these questions, you'll find that your product fits a certain type of person facing a specific set of circumstances – which is an ideal foundation for your customer profile.

step 2

Be your own sketch artist

You'll be painting portrait of your ideal customer with words and pictures with the goal of creating a well-rounded human being. Why create a “person” rather than a bare-facts “persona”? Because people are real. They're relatable. They're understandable. And, when you want your entire company to understand precisely who they're trying to reach, giving them a human being to target is far more effective than giving them a list of stats. That said, stats are a great place to start sketching out your customer profile. Start with demographic data.
Our persona here is:

  • Female
  • 29-years-old
  • Newlywed
  • College graduate
  • Earns $40K-$70K a year
  • No kids
  • Lives in a big city, like San Francisco, Chicago or New York (if you have a local brand, you'll want to be more specific)

Don't forget to name your persona. Our persona's name above is Jessica – the most popular name for girls born in 1985.

step 3

Add some color to your picture

You can use basic psychographic data to add a few more details to your picture. If we were beginning a painting, the sketch would come first, followed by blocking out color. Using Jessica's demographic data as a launch point, we can find out that she loves movies, music, food and books.
What details can you add that are pertinent to your specific audience? You may wish to start with:

  • Job title
  • Who they report to
  • What their professional goals are
  • What their personal goals are
  • What position they hold in their family
  • Their decision-making style (impulse buyer, researcher, etc.)

step 4

Flesh out your character

Our demographic sketch with added color is a good start, but lacks personality. What motivates Jessica? What is she interested in? What engages her time? What cocktail does she order on a Friday night? Yes, your customer profile should be that specific.

Based on our demographic information, we can find out that Jessica:

  • Works as an editor for a health food publication.
  • Loves movies, food, music and books, but isn't very outdoorsy.
  • She likes smart romances like Almost Famous and Amelie, but her guilty pleasure is The Notebook (mostly because of Ryan Gosling).
  • She listens to Radiohead and The Beatles, and can give you deeper insights than you ever wanted to know about Sex and the City (preferably over a classic Negroni rather than a Cosmo).
  • She's a romantic at heart and nostalgic for the carefree 1960s.
  • An organic, healthy lifestyle is important to her, and she is a dedicated label reader.

None of these are pure conjecture, though some are educated guesses. For Jessica's education level and interests in health food and literature, editing a health food publication isn't a stretch. Her entertainment preferences are easy to find using social media data, and we can also see that Campari is her liquor of choice – which you wouldn't use in a Cosmo, but would in an old-school Negroni.
Why do we need these psychographic details? Because, using this knowledge, we can begin to craft marketing messages that appeal directly to Jessica's preferences and needs.

step 5

Revisit your analysis over time

People change. Products change. The audience for your product changes. Change is inevitable, which is why you can't afford to take a set-it-and-forget-it approach to your customer profile. Change your profile as needed, and check it against your actual customers as needed. You may find that your ideal client in the beginning doesn't match your top clients coming in five years later – and that's okay! That is probably a sign that your business is growing.

Now you can use your customer profile to inspire ideas for your next marketing campaign!