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The Myth of Being Your Own Boss and Why You Need a Customer Persona

There was once a brand strategist who claimed to work for Apple. I once hired her because her website and portfolio were impressive. However, there was a problem with her mindset that I should have picked up before I did so.

She went into business to become her own boss.

The Concept Of Being Your Own Boss Is A Lie

While I understand the sentiment, the concept of being your own boss is actually a lie. If you go into business wanting to be your own boss, you will become heavily disappointed.

Even entrepreneurs like Elon Musk aren’t truly their own boss. Capitalism is a system of exchanges. You can go into business to set your own hours. You can go into business to get travel opportunities or financial independence.

But…

The Customer Will Always Be Your Boss

They’re the ones who leave the final review that will affect the reputation of your business. And your reputation will determine if whether you can stay in business.

Because the person I hired went into business thinking that she was her own boss, she developed a big head, a big ego. This ego blinded her, and inhibited her from giving adequate value to me, her client.

She did not last long with me. Nor did she last long at all on Upwork.

In capitalism, it’s the buyer who has the power. They are the true bosses of every entrepreneur.

The Concept Applies To Any Business

It doesn’t matter how big your business is. Even if entrepreneurs like Elon Musk fail to put smiles on customers’ faces, he would go out of business.

We, who buy the cars from Tesla, are Musk’s bosses. We have more power than even his investors who have the power to strip him of his CEO position. Why? Because the return his investors are waiting for are coming from our pockets, to begin with.

To ensure that he creates his cars in a manner that I would desire, Elon has to get to know me as his customer. However, he doesn’t know me as an individual.

So, how can he effectively market a product or service to me and convince me to buy from him? How can he speak to me in a way that I’d understand, trust, and respond to?

He, and other entrepreneurs like him, can only do this with market research.

There are two kinds of market research: primary and secondary.

Primary research is what you perform yourself, that you gain from first-hand experience. Secondary research is the data you get from a third-party.

Both are important to developing a suitable marketing plan. Organizing the data in the way that gives it meaning forms into what’s called a “customer persona.”

What Is A Customer Persona?

In my own words, a customer persona is a document that describes the target consumer. It’s partially fictional, and partially based on real data.

You use the customer persona to understand the mind and life of your target audience. To get inside their head.

You can download a ton of different customer persona templates online. We use our own signature one at my firm. We encourage our clients to use them as well.

How To Develop A Customer Persona?

1.Identify Your Ideal Customer

When building a customer persona, you start off with a vision. Imagine that you are the customer. The more detailed and sensory your visualization, the better.

Start from the time they wake up, to the time they go to bed. Imagine a full, typical day of life walking in their shoes. Give your persona a name to make them more human.

You are not you; you are them.

Record the process of what you experience in your thought experiment. Pay particular attention to the details you might not think matter.

Jump into their character the way a Hollywood method actor would. Accept that there’s going to be some percentage of inaccuracy in your vision. That’s normal.

Record your notes. This is the start of your customer persona.

You will have based your vision on your primary experience with the customer. The less experience you’ve had with the customer, the less accurate your vision will be.

Therein, your vision is your hypothesis. At this point, follow the scientific method.

2. Research Your Customer Persona

Test your hypothesis until it is as accurate as you can afford it to be. So, the visualization part is easy; it’s the testing that can take up thousands of dollars.

Ideally, you want to have your own research team doing this kind of thing. Realistically, you won’t be able to afford that starting out.

Usually only the Fortune companies have the capital for that. For the regular entrepreneur though, here are some ways you can test your hypothesis:

  1. Surveys
  2. Focus groups
  3. Interviews
  4. Observations

You can create a survey with a basic quiz creator you can find on Google. Then, boost that survey to your hypothetical persona on social media. The people who answer will provide you with data you need.

You can use the same kind of method to develop a focus group or conduct interviews. A focus group is someone who is a willing tester of a specific product or service.

Observing your target audience, though, yields the most honest results. This is when you watch your target audience without them even realizing you’re there.

You can do this without violating any of their privacy rights. A simple method is to just visit their social media profiles. Then, watch how they conduct themselves.

What do they post about? How do they interact with other people? What do they like and dislike, and what does that tell you about their character? Their pain points?

This is all primary research. Use the data you extract to modify your hypothesis of your consumer until it’s closer to reality.

I paraphrase Sherlock Holmes, “Don’t change the facts to suit your theories. Change your theory to suit the facts.”

Use your primary research to develop your hypothesis into an accurate theory.

3. Test Your Customer Persona

Then, verify your theory with secondary research. This will come from a third-party, such as Pew Research Center. Look up articles and statistics online to gain a macro-understanding of your consumer.

Both forms of research are important. This is because of your
“epistemic limitation.” Your epistemic limitation is the human limits to your own ability to sense what is around you. Your ability to touch, taste, feel, hear, and see.

Because you’re a mortal being and not a god, your primary research will only cover but so much. The people you study yourself may be outliers or exceptions to the statistical rule.

If that’s the case, then if you base your marketing strategy on a theory that’s against the rule, you’ll fail.

Unless, of course, you’re trying to target the exceptions to the rule.

You can use your customer persona to scale an entire marketing team. With at least one, copywriters will know how to write to specifically them. Graphic designers will understand which images to choose and why.

There is no limit to how many customer personas you should have. Develop as many as you need to accomplish whatever goal you desire.

If you have your questions already prepared in a list before you ask them to me, that will save you a ton of time and money.

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