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3 Steps to Develop Customer Segments and Personas

The most effective marketing plans are ones written for a specific customer segment. This allows your team to fully understand the audience that you’re speaking to and ensure the work you’re doing will resonate with the intended audience. Once customer segments are created, personas bring those segments to life and allow you to visualize what the segments look like in reality.

What is Customer Segmentation?

Customer segmentation is the process of grouping your audience into smaller groups based on common attributes.

The Step-by-Step Plan

If you haven’t created customer segments, and personas within each segment, follow this plan to get started:

1. Write a broad list of customer descriptions that fit all of the kinds of people that buy your product or service, or that you think would buy your product or service (if you haven’t launched yet). Who does your product or service solve a problem for?

Example: Young married couples, single millennials, teachers, busy lifestyle 


2. List the commonalities among the audiences listed in #1. What things do these groups of people have in common? Group the descriptors together as you work through the audiences you listed. While demographics are important, think beyond gender, age, sex, race, etc… Consider psychographic and behavior attributes.

Example: Enjoy green living, recycle, shop at thrift stores, eat healthy, ride a bike instead of drive, 20-30 years old, males and females 


3. After your customer segments are created, it’s time to design two or more personas for each segment. When you’re creating a marketing plan, these personas act as filters for messaging and positioning. Use the broad audiences from #1 to determine the customer segments, and the specific attributes from #2 to build the personas.

Define how each persona thinks, the language they speak in, and how they would respond to your messages.

How to Use Customer Segments in a New Campaign

If you’re trying something new – like a new marketing channel – and your company has never communicated on this channel before, start with a homogenous audience. Use a broad customer segment to test things out and learn the channel. Work to refine your process and get a system established for using this channel, and then use that process for other consumer segments. Once you have a strong understanding of the channel, implement micro-targeting to reach specific personas of consumers through the new marketing channel.

If You Don’t Understand Your Audience…

Most people will have a basic understanding of their audience, but if you end this process with more questions than answers, talk to your audience. Talk to your potential customers to understand their pain points around your solution. Ask how they currently resolve the problem. Talk to your current customers and learn more about why they bought your product or service. Ask them to detail why they bought it and what lead them to that place. Your first customers carry extremely valuable information, and most of the time you simply have to ask for it.

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