Who is your customer? Here’s how to find out

August 22, 2022

By Chris Franks

This is the second post in a blog series. You can view the previous post “2 Things All Successful Entrepreneurs Have in Common” here


“If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it even make a sound?”

You’ve probably heard some version of this thought experiment before. The idea is that maybe a sound, and in turn all of reality, can’t exist without someone around to notice it. But that’s a discussion best left to the philosophers.

The important lesson here for us eCommerce folks is that, like this falling tree, all the hard work we put into our product amounts to exactly nothing, zero, nada, zilch, without someone around to notice it … i.e. the customer.

Millions of words have been written about how to attract this elusive customer, and I’ve read just about all of them. Most of it amounts to … come up with a killer logo, write a catchy slogan, and get as many eyes and ears on them as possible.

Sure, the old strategy of putting a pretty face on your business and proceeding to shove it down the world’s throat (in other words, branding) worked well for many businesses in the past. But in an era where tens of thousands of brands are competing for everyone’s attention in every possible way at every possible opportunity, traditional branding is essentially pointless. It’s more about ego than anything else (there I go getting philosophical again).

So what’s the solution? In a world of 10 million trees falling in 10 million forests, how do you get your tree noticed?

The only solution I’ve found is this: Figure out who exactly it is you want to notice your business, your ideal customer (or who we at CleverFunnel call your “Persona”), and go find them.

Instead of blindly waving your hands and shouting at the top of your lungs hoping someone eventually notices you, stop for a second and consider who you actually want to notice you, and go about building a relationship with them. It’s really that simple.

Ask yourself, what does this faceless mystery customer look like? What are their greatest passions? What are their biggest needs? How could I make their life just a little bit better?

As long as you have an idea of who your customer is and what they want, you can move forward with some confidence that you’re not just a tree falling in an empty forest.


Find your customer with PDM

Now, I’m gonna divulge a little in-house secret. After years of running market discovery tests for our clients, we’ve come up with a pretty sweet system for learning all you need to know about your customers. It’s called PDM, short for “Persona – Driver – Messaging.” 

The first phase of PDM—Persona testing—lets us know who to send your company’s content to, so we’re not just blasting your company’s message out to people who couldn’t care less. For this phase of testing, we don’t just stop at job titles or demographics. We like to dig further into what a company’s audience really looks like by building out a profile like the one featured below: 

Aaron (32)
Title: Product Management 
Industry: Gaming

Bio: Aaron graduated from UCLA and was hired on at Indigo Gaming Inc. He worked his way into Product Management, where he now leads a team of over fifty. He’s currently looking for a new management software that offers a mix of structure and flexibility to improve his team’s workflow.

Once we’ve established the Persona, we can begin testing various Drivers (what motivates this audience), to find out what your company’s customers care about and what problems customers are most interested in solving.

Finally, we test the Messaging (how to effectively communicate with your audience via posts, web copy, creative, and so on). This helps us settle on branded content that we know will resonate with your company’s ideal audience base.


Note from the Author

Starting an eCommerce business is like building a rocket in your garage and expecting it to take you to the moon—it might not work, and even if it does, there’s a good chance you’ll get hurt along the way. 

The good news is you’re not the first person crazy enough to try this. There are many others (myself included) who have tried, failed, and tried again. By learning from our many (many) mistakes, you can launch an eCommerce business that makes it safely to orbit and beyond.

In this blog series, you’ll get a step-by-step guide to creating and launching your eCommerce business years 1–3. We go over how to create a functional brand, set up your website, and develop an advertising strategy that scales with you. We’ll go through the various pros and cons, so that you can feel empowered to make the best decisions for your business.

My name is Chris Franks, and I’m the founder and CEO of CleverFunnel, a digital marketing agency that focuses on using straightforward, data-driven strategies to drive real results for our clients.

I’m also an avid lover of indie music, fly fishing, baseball, and sunscreen (although that’s more of a genetic necessity). I wrote this with the hope that my story could help other young entrepreneurs achieve their goals, without losing their savings (or their sanity) in the process. If any bit of this helps you, it’ll have been worth it.