Build a Killer Customer Persona that Works in 5 Minutes
Today we are showing you an old favorite we love to use during the acceleration program: the 5 minute customer persona. It’s quick, it’s dirty, but it’s a great way of challenging your thinking about what your company is really selling.
Why do a customer persona?
Most founders are used to the idea that a startup “solves problems.” The trouble is that often the “problem” as they view it is essentially “our customers don’t have our product.”
Take the case of a recruiting platform I met today. The problem they were solving, according to them, was “recruiters don’t have a single platform where they can gather all their leads.”
Maybe that is a problem, but it functions more as a description of the product. I asked the founders a simple question: would your target customer google the phrase “single platform for gathering recruiting leads?” And if so, what would they actually find there?
The answer is a ton of different products. Agencies, software, content, forums. A problem this generic has no one answer.
Enter the 5 minute Persona
Instead of defining the problem, we ask the founders to do a simple paper exercise. We write down the job title of the customer at the top of a piece of paper, and on the left margin we create three sections: Goals, Frustrstions, Fears. It looks like this:
Head of Recruitment Persona
Fill in each section (in order!) with 2-3 key points. If you aren’t sure, bracket the point. This helps show what you know and don’t know about the customer, and to get you thinking in their shoes. It’s important to phrase the points as they would be seen by the *person* behind the persona, not the company, or just the position.
The persona we built took five minutes, consisting only of me asking questions about the customer:
Head of recruitment
- Increase Deal Flow (fees)
- Train subordinates well
- Improve Pipeline value
- Turnover in the team
- High customer expectations
- Lack of deal flow
- Automation (bots, AI)
- Conflicts of interest with clients
- Competition (Cheaper? Faster?)
Pretty simple, but here’s the clever bit: We then ask the founder to state the problem by describing the fears of the customer, describe the solution as solving the frustrations mentioned, and then describe the outcome as the goals you’ve identified.
Problem: Competition and automation threaten recruiters. They need better deal flow and fewer errors to stay ahead.
Solution: a platform that helps you train your team and manage your deal flow, meeting high customer expectations faster.
Outcome: higher fees, a better team, and more business.
This pitch has been transformed into a winner in just minutes.
By starting at the “outcome” or goals, and working down to fears, you get away from your biased views of what customers need or want. First empathising with the customer, then identifying the benefits your product offers (frustrations), and only then getting to the motivation to buy (fears), we short-circuit our biases about what’s important about the product.
Do This Often
This tool is so easy, we often feel bad for founders who don’t know it. Often they thank us as if we’ve revealed some incredible secret, but this isn’t hard to put into practice at all.
In fact, you ought to do it every time you think about a customer, an investor, or even a new hire. Practicing empathy helps us to gain insight into what we know, and shows us what information and experience we lack. And practicing empathy is not rocket science.
It starts with a 5 minute routine.
StartupYard is currently accepting applications for our next round.
We’re looking for startup founders in Automation, Blockchain, IoT, AI, AR/VR and Security, or anything else hard to do and globally scalable.
Get started applying to StartupYard.