Client portrait: How to create a portrait of the target audience

All successful marketing campaigns have one thing in common. They always appeal to a specific audience , and their message appeals to the needs of a specific market segment. And this ultimately helps to attract a large number of new customers.

Do you want to achieve the same? Then, first you need to understand the characteristics of your potential buyer, and identify the features that distinguish him from the rest. You need to create a portrait of the target audience or, as it is often called, a portrait of the client.

Unfortunately, many examples of a client’s portrait found on the Internet are commonplace and completely untrue. Often, this is a primitive jumble of chaotic demographics, supposed occupations, or fictional stories about a fictional character.

But we will not focus on how not to do it.

Instead, I’ll show you how to create a real, vivid portrait of a client that will help you reach a new level of communication with your audience, both personal and professional.

In this article, I’ll detail how to create a meaningful customer portrait that will guide you both in building and executing your marketing strategy and in creating content .

Basic principles of creating a client portrait

So, I already mentioned above that often marketers themselves invent a portrait of the client (as they say, “from the ceiling”).

It looks something like this – some funny “talking” name is chosen (for example, Alex), and then some general demographic data is assigned to it:

Alex is a marketing manager. He is 32 years old, he has a wife and two children. He makes $ 3,000 a month. And Alex lives in Kiev.

I think it’s obvious to you that this assumption has little useful information that you could use in your marketing activities. There is no question of any meaningful portrait of the client here.

Moreover, such portraits will in no way help you understand the real needs of the buyer, his desires and problems, and how your product or service can help your ideal client become better.

In other words, this information does not help in any way to make the right decisions when developing a marketing strategy.

Simply because demographics cannot explain the motivation and reasons a person makes a purchase.

Therefore, you should not rely on this data when creating your client portrait. Moreover, you shouldn’t take data out of your head.

When developing a portrait of the target audience, always try to highlight the main features of an individual person – a real person. Your task is to understand what drives a person in the process of making a purchase decision. At the same time, the significance of demographic characteristics can be very trivial.

So your job is to understand 3 things about your ideal customer:

  1. The role of this person (what he does, where he works, what he is responsible for)
  2. Goals (aspirations, tasks, dreams)
  3. Problems, fears, worries and obstacles on the way to achieving the goal.

Now let’s take a look at each of the elements step by step.

Drawing up a portrait of a client or target audience

Now that it is clear what to avoid and what the client’s portrait should consist of, it’s time to figure out how to compose it.

You cannot randomly assign goals and roles to a person. You must have some understanding of his personality and place in the world.

Of course, there are situations when this happens on a whim – if you and a potential client have a similar role, since you originally created your product for yourself. Accordingly, it is not difficult for you to understand his goals and fears.

However, do not be fooled – you cannot know everything. Be objective, look for evidence and confirmation of your assumptions in primary sources.

Now I will not delve into all possible ways of collecting the information you need, but will limit myself to a few effective methods. They will help you start researching your client’s personality traits.

Purpose of your research: understand the characteristics of your target audience and identify the role, pain points, fears and aspirations of your ideal client.

The 3 best ways to do target audience research

Explore online communities

There is a huge abundance of all kinds of communities on the Internet. And they can be a great source of information for you when drawing up a client portrait. For example, the likes of Reddit and Quora target specific groups of people. These resources are a real gold mine for collecting data on your client’s portrait.

On Reddit, you may well stumble across a discussion related to your niche and find out what problems people face in this area and how they solve them.

Quora works in a similar way – it is organized in a Q&A format related to a specific topic.

But you can go ahead and start your own discussions or post questions on these resources. This will give you concrete, lively answers from real people that will help you better shape the USP of your product or service. The main thing is to ask the right questions.

There is also Facebook. Of course, it is a little more complicated with it due to various settings and privacy policies, but it can also be used to get the information you need.

Take a survey

Another great and relatively easy way to analyze your audience is to conduct a survey.

Many are afraid of him because they think that it is a difficult process. In fact, this is not necessary and not always the case. A fairly simple survey for 20-30 people can shed light on many important issues, concerns, and aspirations of your client.

In order to conduct a survey, you only need a few correctly formulated questions.

It’s not hard to find respondents – this could be your current target audience, people from thematic communities, or your existing clients. You can also conduct an online survey in online communities / social networks or contact directly with representatives of your target audience.

Interview existing or potential clients

The most effective way to gain insight into the characteristics of your potential customers is by talking to them directly.

Like polls, interviews are not to be feared. Nobody forces you to start a large-scale campaign.

It will be enough to interview 5-10 people. As practice shows, the first 5 respondents point to 85% of the peculiarities, all the rest – to the remaining 15%.

Prepare a few questions ahead of time to help you identify the ideal client’s role, goals, and problems. You can easily conduct interviews by phone, in person, or using video conferencing software (Skype, Zoom, Hangouts).

But don’t forget what information you need to find out. So don’t ask nonsensical questions like “Do you like our product?”

Instead, try to uncover hidden needs so that you can better understand your customers by asking questions such as “What happened in your life when you realized you needed a product like ours?” or “What emotions does our product evoke in you?” or “How exactly and for what purpose do you use our product?”

Example of a client portrait

Let’s say a company that sells a software service for end-to-end analytics needs to develop a customer profile that will also be a portrait of the ideal customer for their content marketing . They need to understand how, with what message and on what topics they can create content in order to attract the attention of the target audience and increase the number of users of their service.

Potential client and target audience representative – Anna, Director of Marketing at a SaaS startup. Let’s start with general information about it.

DescriptionMarketing Director at a SaaS Startup

Sometimes, for completeness, the character is also credited with demographic characteristics, such as age, marital status and number of children.

I believe that this kind of information is trivial enough if it is not key to your business. For example, if you are selling baby food, then it is clearly important for you that the client has a baby from 6 to 24 months. But if you are selling a time tracking service for freelancers, then it makes no difference how many children your ideal client has and what their names are.

Therefore, do not start to invent too much. Focus on what’s important.

At this stage, it is necessary to understand the personality characteristics of this person, delving into three key aspects:

  1. Role
  2. Objectives
  3. Problems, fears and obstacles

And while these points may seem a little shallow, applied correctly, they turn out to be very informative and meaningful.

I will clearly show you how each of these aspects will help us get closer to understanding the personality of a particular person.

Role. Understand the position of the ideal client

This is the first set of characteristics of our personality that shows her role within her company, where she works, the social group in which she spends time, as well as her position in society.

It is obvious that the “role” of a person can be interpreted in different ways, have different meanings. This is what makes it so powerful.

Your personality role should be fully aligned with your product, service, and industry.

It is not enough just to know that someone is a CMO. This position assumes different functions in different organizations. For example, in a tech startup, this person is most likely responsible for all aspects of marketing and the growth of the company as a whole. As a rule, he manages all marketing activities of the enterprise.

In other companies, the CMO is responsible for product promotion or content creation, or works directly with top management.

Therefore, a role is not so much the position held as its specific specifics in the context of your product. Because often one and the same nominal position involves different responsibilities.

A clear understanding of the human role is fundamental. Only after learning everything that he encounters on a daily basis, you can literally “get into his head” and understand his goals and concerns.

Goals. Identify the wants and hidden needs of your audience

Everyone has goals.

We often view them in terms of professional achievement. However, do not forget about personal goals, which are needed for a more complete understanding of audience psychology. Moreover, always try to understand which person’s goals are in the context of your product.

Think about what kind of person you want to make your client, what are his motives. Do not forget, however, that the title of his position does not always give an exhaustive picture of his goals.

With this information, you will be able to understand what the person really wants to achieve, how to better contact him and what content he will be interested in.

But this is just the beginning. Now we need to deal with this person’s fears and obstacles. And, most importantly, we must figure out how to help him solve his problems.

Problems, fears and obstacles. Determine What Your Product Can Help With

Understand what worries the person and what they fear.

What keeps him awake at night?

I am sure you have heard more than once that in marketing you need to focus not on the features (functions) of your product, but on the benefits that the user can derive from using your product.

Understanding what a person really cares about will help you get closer to real solutions to their problems and, accordingly, to a sale.

Therefore, when forming your USP (unique selling proposition), you should focus not on the features of the product, but on the positive outcome or result of use.

Think about your product in a different way:

  • You are not selling a diet, but a healthier, better quality life.
  • You’re not selling a planner app, but a way to get things done on time and organize your schedule.
  • You’re not selling an online course, but an opportunity to learn a skill and start earning more.

Speaking of concerns, I want to point out that they can take very different forms. People worry about the career success of colleagues at work, about their own achievements, or even about a specific product (in terms of – will this give me what I need so much?)

Think carefully about the possible causes of your client’s concerns and list the problem areas. This will help you understand how best to meet a person’s needs and solve their problems.

It is important to understand your client’s true concerns – knowing their goals and the obstacles they face will help you build a complete, comprehensive client profile.

Why you need to know about your ideal client’s fears and concerns

Your ultimate goal is to sell a product / service. But in order to achieve what you want, you need to present your product in such a light (in the eyes of the client) that he will certainly want to buy it.

It is important to understand here that people do not buy certain products because of their characteristics. They buy them to solve a specific problem, get rid of their fears, or change their lives for the better.

This is why understanding the psychographic characteristics of your target audience is so important. That is why you need to understand the client’s fears and barriers.

Use this knowledge to describe your product as the one that will solve human problems.

For example, your product is a project management and personal productivity software.

After researching, you realized that your ideal client is a manager at a small company that runs an online business. The manager has 2-5 subordinates and 1-2 projects in the active phase.

Your research has shown that your client’s primary goal is to manage the project well and complete all tasks on time.

In turn, the main obstacle to achieving these goals is the large number of tasks and the need to delegate on time and monitor the progress of their implementation.

Because of this, there is a fear of ineffective waste of time and going beyond the deadline.

Based on this information in the form of a client portrait, you can form your USP and application description, which:

Will address these fears by promising to streamline the user’s schedule, facilitate the process of delegation and control over the execution of tasks, making him more productive, and the project management process is much easier and more enjoyable.

As you can see, demographic indicators are absolutely not important for this. You don’t need to know how many children your ideal client has, where he goes on vacation in the summer, and what his dog’s name is.

Of course, depending on the nature of your business, such things can be important too. But not always.

So don’t make the mistake of placing a lot of emphasis on features that are of no use to your marketing efforts.

Learn about the habits of your ideal client

In addition to everything that has already been mentioned, to complete the portrait of the ideal client, it also needs to include a set of habits of the potential client.

  • What applications does he use?
  • On what sites does he learn about the news?
  • Where does he read useful content?
  • What celebrities and influencers does he follow on social media?
  • What exhibitions and conferences does he attend?
  • What is your favorite content format?

This information will help you better understand which channels and in which style you can best reach your target audience.

If your target audience loves to develop their skills and knowledge through YouTube video content, then you should spend more time on this platform than spending time on posting text posts to Facebook.

And if your target audience are frequent visitors to a certain site or online magazine, then it makes sense to get your article published on this resource so that more people from the target audience will know about you.

Know about the habits and preferences of your target audience and use them. But never try to change them. If people enjoy spending time on YouTube, go where – where your audience lives. Don’t try to teach them to hang out on Facebook. As much as you want it, people’s habits are stronger than your plans and ambitions.

Speak the customer’s language

I’m sure many of us have ever found articles about a particular problem faced by “all marketers” or “all young people”. And when reading, only one question arose – “what?” The content, although written in the native language, seemed somehow foreign and incomprehensible.

This is exactly what happens when there is no clear understanding of who you are addressing, how these people live. If you do not know this, you will be speaking in a completely different language and will not be heard. This is the subtlety of creating quality, authentic content, advertising and marketing campaigns for your target audience.

And this is where the portrait of the client comes into play.

It helps you target your target audience and build the right communication with them without making such mistakes.

Your client portrait will reveal the characteristics of your target audience . Thanks to this, you can choose the right communication style through advertising, social media or email marketing , starting from how the person speaks and thinks, what words, communication style or slang they use.

If your target audience is teenagers and students, it would be a big mistake to speak with them in a formal way and build a serious brand image. They are more likely to prefer a more relaxed and simpler communication style. And vice versa. The adult generation will not want to listen to a brand that uses too many obscure buzzwords.

Speak the client’s language. And they will hear you.


A customer portrait is a very powerful tool in marketing,  branding and positioning . Its presence is already a huge bonus for your marketing arsenal.

But don’t limit yourself to just creating this tool. Use it in decision making, brainstorming, and strategy development.

When you have an idea, ask yourself: “Would Anna, our ideal client, like that? How would she react to this product / website / blog change? ”

But do not forget to review the client’s portrait from time to time. It can change depending on the direction in which your company is moving and how the market conditions are developing.

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