Don’t get me wrong, developing customer profiles isn’t exactly easy, but here are a few tips that should ease your foray into this brave new world:

Leverage Internal and External Data – The most effective customer profiles take into account both internal and external data. Internal data can be pulled from your company’s sales/order systems, customer management systems, website, etc. Be sure that data across all channels and customer touchpoints is incorporated. Augment your internal customer data with descriptive external information supplied by third-party data providers. For example, in the case of a B2C company, this would likely include working with a vendor offering a compiled consumer database. These companies can overlay your customer records with detailed information about their demographics, psychographics, buying habits, attitudes, and much more.

Partner For Success – Work with a good marketing services company. They can help your business bring together all of the necessary data sources, identify your key customer groups, synthesize the results and provide you with key insights, and help develop the most appropriate marketing strategies based on what has been learned.

Focus on Quality over Quantity – The insights you gain are only as good as the data you put into the profiling process so be sure that stringent data quality standards and processes are in place. If you are unsure how clean and complete your data is, again consider working with a marketing services company that can help you complete a quality audit of your customer data.

Make It Real – Ensure that the profiles for each identifiable customer group are tangible, enough so that you can envision an actual person and what would motivate them to buy from your business. Describe and name your key customer groups in written profiles, aka “personas”.

Move Beyond the Data – Gain additional insight about how and why each customer group buys by reaching out to actual customers. Spend time speaking with them about their preferences, motivations for buying and their buying process. In the process also try to glean how well your business is serving their needs and where there are untapped opportunities.

In summary, customer profiling can provide your business with not only a more precise view of its best customers, but will also offer insight into what sets your company apart from the competition in the eyes of your customers.  Armed with customer profiles, your company will be able to define more effective communications strategies and identify new opportunities for selling products and increasing sales.