Distinguishing traits - what sets your customers apart

You’ve identified your niche and written a detailed customer persona.

Have you included your customer traits?

These could be key to finding out what your customers have in common or what sets them apart.

Solitary man walking to show how customers traits are different
Customer traits highlight what your customers have in common.

If you have several different customer types and have spent the time creating their personas, you may have noticed that there are some common themes between them.

This isn’t just things that they have in common, it includes traits where you have customers at opposite ends of the same scale. 

It’s the scale itself that we’re talking about.

It’s the small things that can make a difference

It’s perfectly possible that if you’ve discovered your niche and that’s the only type of customer you serve, there are still some things that differentiate the people within that niche.

Across your niche your ideal customers have the same or very similar goals, hurdles, characteristics, emotional drivers and so on. But as you work with them, talk to them, win some business but not all of it, you start finding that there are some things that are different.

What are these differences? Are they things you need to recognise as they’ll impact your product and service design, your messaging, use of imagery and so on? If the answer is yes, you need to add them to your customer persona – possibly create another persona that highlights the differences between your customers within your niche. 

Sometimes it’s what we have in common that sets us apart

You can use your customer traits to highlight what it is that sets your customers apart from everyone else.

Or if you’ve created a product or service that has key differentiators that appeal to part of the market that was unsatisfied or not even being served before you started your business, you can use your customer traits to highlight why this group buys from you.

The key things to remember. What you want everyone to know.

Here’s some examples …

Across your customers you may find that they want to get involved in what it is you offer to varying degrees.

In this case you might have a customer trait scale of ‘Done for you’ to ‘Do it yourself’.

Imagine this as a 5 point scale – the statements at either end. Which customers are happy to sit back and leave it to you, as the expert, to do the work? Which ones are happy to have some involvement? Which ones would rather you just told them what they needed to do and then they’d get on with it themselves?

Image of example customer traits and a 5 point-scale
Example customer traits on a 5-point scale

The reasons why they’d rather you did everything, or they’d prefer to do it themselves should be elsewhere in your customer persona – emotional drivers, characteristics, service expectations, and so on. 

These traits are things, like preferences and attitudes, that are influenced by what you’ve already got in your customer persona and are relevant to your business in some way.

It could be how you service your customers – if you know your customers aren’t confident with technology you’ll need to provide a low-tech way to do it.

Or it might be your messaging – if you know you’re customers are value focused, then you should include the benefits and features that they’ll see value in.

Customer traits should be quick indicators of what sets your customers apart, what they have in common and what you need to keep top of mind when focusing on them. Adding them to your customer personas means that you can share that information quickly and easily amongst everyone and anyone that needs to know.