The Difference Between Customer Profiles & Buyer Personas

Added on by Kavi Guppta.

A common way to compile information on your customers is through a buyer persona. But a buyer persona might not be the right tool for truly getting into your customer’s shoes, especially when exploring new value propositions. In this post, we’ll explain how the Customer Profile in the Value Proposition Canvas can be a much more actionable evidence gathering tool than developing a buyer persona.  

Deep customer understanding is the first great skill of any successful enterprise. The more you know about your audience, the more likely you’ll design a value proposition that answers customer priorities.

The Customer Profile, or "the circle" is the right hand side of our Value Proposition Canvas.

The Customer Profile, or "the circle" is the right hand side of our Value Proposition Canvas.

Buyer personas are frequently developed by sales and marketing teams hoping to reach out to a specific customer target. But buyer personas aren’t always an accurate collection of customer segments, customer priorities, or customer learning.

We believe the Customer Profile (the circle in our Value Proposition Canvas) is a much more actionable tool for getting to know your customers. We point out why in the table below.

Customer Profile
Buyer Persona
  • A dynamic tool to clarify customer understanding
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  • A structured, detailed way to describe a specific customer segment
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  • Allows you to step into your customer's’ shoes, rather than assuming for them
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  • Maps out the jobs-to-be-done, pains and gains a customer may have
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  • Assumptions are validated or invalidated
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  • Outcomes and learnings are based on real customer conversations and interactions
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  • Your understanding of the customer and the customer profile itself will evolve as you gather more evidence
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  • Forces customer priorities onto the value proposition you design
  • A detailed and well planned document for execution
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  • A semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer
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  • Relies largely on market research & data through surveys and focus groups
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  • Contains a lot of assumptions on customers
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  • Primarily based on survey responses or focus groups (customer’s don’t always do what they say!)
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  • Focus on a static instance in time, rather than a dynamic evolution through constant customer learning
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  • May contain little or no direct customer interaction
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  • Forces your value proposition onto customers