The Start-Up Theory: Map a coherent user

As entrepreneurs, too often map we concentrate on the actual product or service we try to bring into the market, wishing for this product to turn out as good as possible. And we fall in love with our solutions too early and too deeply many a times, instead of concentrating on the actual problem we want to solve, who’s really dealing with it and how critical it actually is. Sometimes we tend to forget that a product cannot stand without its user base – it has no reason to exist, unless people find it useful or delightful or interesting or all of the above.


In order to build a solid foundation for your business, you have to really look at your customers and find out what their wants, needs and pains are. Knowing what they want and what they dislike will enable you to design a suitable product, one that people will actually appreciate.

The User Success Flow

If we take a look at Peter Drucker’s insight on the purpose of a business – “To create a customer” – we could say that a business should exist in order to create successful new ways for its customers, and its fundamental focus should be to create some sort of a User Success Machine that works. Given this, my colleague Gabriel introduced a framework called The User Success Flow, during GROWTH MARKETING Academy. Its purpose is to help us – both entrepreneurs and marketers – map out the entire territory of defining a target audience, finding suitable channels to reach our audience, using tactics that drive conversion, up to the point of customer satisfaction and hopefully, amplification.


Who is your target audience?

Defining the right customer base is especially important for a startup. Having limited resources, but also a limited amount of knowledge on how your product will “behave” in its given market, it is crucial for a startup to know who its early adopters are.

Early adopters are the ones to accept the product quickly, giving entrepreneurs precious insight into business or product adjustments that might be necessary, while also funding the next steps by creating actual traction with the business.

Here is how we define the customer base we are looking to work with for the different projects we’re on. It entails a first segmentation of the user base, a more refined profiling of the user base and lastly, a really detailed one. These are the three stages to go through:

  • User segment
  • User profile
  • User persona

Simply dipping your toes into the waters of your chosen market won’t do. Carefully analyzing who your target customers are will, however, make for a beautiful, and most of all useful market segmentation.

This business process entails dividing a large, homogenous market into clearly defined and identifiable subdivisions. It’s what we call customer segments, consisting of people with similar needs, wants, or other demand characteristics. This market breakdown will enable you to choose the customer segments that your company is best equipped to serve, thus investing your marketing efforts wisely. You’ll be looking at a clearly identifiable and measurable customer base, that is accessible for you and that is more likely to respond to your communication (and selling) efforts.

There are four criteria you need to consider when doing a market segmentation. You’ll differentiate your preferred customer segment from a behavioral, demographic, psychographic or geographical point of view. It is up to you to pick the strategy that is best suited to your business.

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While remembering that a target customer is still under no obligation to buy your product or engage with your service in any way, targeting a specific customer base is a smart business move. Actually, scratch that – it’s a crucial business move. Let’s see how profiling the user might work like:

For starters, think big. Don’t limit yourself to the most obvious kind of customer. He still might be relevant at the end of this audience brainstorming session, but it’s important to be aware of all the options out there. Who are the people that could benefit from your offer? Write it down.

Next,  it’s time to assess who stands out in the crowd of potential customers for your business. Pick the right ones to reach out to by looking at the potential value each of these customer segments holds for your business. In order to do so, you have to look really close at these potential customers. There are a few specific attributes you should take into consideration. Here they are:

  • Demographics (people’s gender, age, level of education, household income and location, urban or rural)
  • Mindset (analyzing their approach to life, their beliefs and attitudes, including towards your field of business; ask yourself, is your business’ communication tone suitable for them?)
  • Interests
  • Social life
  • Work
  • Replacement tools (see if there’s room for your solution in the existing set of comparable products that’s already out there)
  • Frequency (with which people make use of the benefits you’re offering; don’t set your expectations higher than necessary, as in the end, your revenue stream is the one that’ll take the hit)

Creating user personas is a fun and highly efficient way of summarizing all of the information you have gathered on a specific user segment, thus making it so much easier for anyone else involved to better grasp what characterizes this user profile. Looking at people this way – a specific someone as opposed to a generic anyone – will aid you in designing your product and your communication efforts, by turning this cohort of people into a manageable and memorable entity.

The fundamental reason for creating a user persona is to positively influence your understanding of your customer base. How you do this, is ultimately up to you. Usually it’s a one-pager document presenting the essentials of a prototypical customer: wants and needs, and skills, the person’s key goals and a “day in the life” short story. Adding a picture and giving your user persona a name will not only give it that little extra, but it will make a world of difference in remembering the user persona, making it even more distinctable.

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Having gone through the first big step of defining your customer base, you should be very close to knowing where to find it, be it physically, digitally and even behaviorally. Where you can find your target audience also defines how to best reach it. The right way to communicate with a teenager coming from a rural setting is not the same as the right one to communicate with a senior from an urban setting.

Remember us telling you previously about the user persona one-pager document and how it contains a “day in the life” short story? Laying down what your target audience is up to throughout the day is very helpful in establishing what communication channels and tactics might work best for you. Consider yourself:

  • Where do you spend the majority of your time in a day?
  • What is it that you do throughout the day?
  • Who are you with?

Think about what you’re doing monday through friday, and how you like to spend your weekends – consider the most average of your days, as well as the days when you’re attending certain events and so on. As you did this exercise on yourself, do it for your user base and figure out where to find them in order to communicate with them most efficiently.