One of the things that I’ve been teaching on my course is the importance of knowing whom you are selling to.

You probably think you already know because you’ve developed your product or service based on this. Years of experience feedback have told you what your customers want and the fact you’re selling validates your approach.

But do you really know them?

Do you know what TV shows they like?

What influencers make them buy products?

Whether they’re married or not?

Do they prefer iPhone or Android?

Are they on a long commute every day?

Do they own a dog?

Answers to questions about THEM and not you or your product can give you an awful lot of insight.

If they own a dog they might walk it a lot and use that time to cram in their favourite podcasts.

If they’re married they might have a bigger household income.

If they commute every day they might be looking for a good read.

They might prefer Kim Kardashian to Kylie Jenner; The Crown to Bake Off; Will Smith to Zoella.

Knowing all of these facts means you can use online channels to reach them in a more meaningful way.

Perhaps you could make your videos into a podcast so you can reach more of your audience who sit on long commutes or run a Google Ads campaign targeted at those who like Will Smith’s YouTube channel.

These clues may seem irrelevant at the time but there’s gold in the detail.

So where do you start?

By creating a buyer persona!

This is a fictional representation of your ideal customer. You create it from data your customers give you and/or through data you collect about them and their behavior.

Using a combination of interviews, surveys and data gathering you can find out their gender, average age, what they do for a living, where they live, whether they’re married, have kids and so much more.

With the right survey questions, you can also find out what problem buying your products or services solves for them too.

You can survey your existing email list or customer database. If you don’t have one then you can put it out to special interest groups on Facebook, Reddit or LinkedIn. If you really struggle then you can start asking friends and family. I talk more about that here.

Using your website and social profile analytics, you can pull demographic and behavioral information about your users. Google Analytics, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest can all give you really insightful information about the people that engage with you.

If you don’t have any of this type of data then you can always resort to looking at people who interact with content like yours and profiling them that way. A standard search of Twitter should do this or using more sophisticated means like BuzzSumo or Ahrefs.

Once you have collected enough data then you can start to profile your fictional customer and fill in the gaps. You know they’re a woman, aged 33 that lives in London. Filling in the gaps we can assume that she’s earning well enough to firstly live in London. Rent is high and to be able to afford the deposit for a mortgage is even higher.

If she’s 33 then it’s very likely she’s a mother and it could also be assumed she has moved along in her career to a senior position.

All of this info helps to define what she does with her time online and where her attention goes.

At this stage in her life, she might be on Pinterest creating boards to help her decorate a nursery or using LinkedIn to network before she goes to her next conference.

She also might tell you that she likes being on Facebook and this can help you overcome your unconscious bias about how you personally feel about Facebook.

Ultimately the aim is to build up a one-page document that gives you core demographic information about her, where she likes to live online and what content she likes to consume. You’ll also be able to answer the question “what problem does she need to solve” and why she would buy your product or service to solve it.

Lastly, give her a name.

Then you’ll be able to refer back to her again and again in whatever online marketing strategy to you decide to use to try and reach her. You’ll humanise her and make her real this way, and in doing so, avoid the potential to make any decisions you make about online marketing about you rather than about her.