5 Steps to Identifying Your Ideal Customer to Increase Sales
Importance of Knowing Who Your Ideal Customer Is
Imagine taking up archery as a new way of generating leads. You have learnt how to hold the bow and arrow, its features and benefits, how it works, what happens when you do what and you are passionate about it.
You show up every day and aim for the target at the end of the field. But even though you have the training and understand what you should be doing, you keep missing the centre of the target (which is called a Boss by the way – who knew?).
Arrows fly over the target or even if they end up hitting the surface, they are nowhere near the centre (bullseye).
Would you continue to turn up every day?
How many small businesses are operating in this way?
You may be wondering what on earth any of this has to do with understanding who your ideal customer is.
I will give you a few seconds.
Pause for effect.
By identifying who your ideal customer is, marketing becomes a lot easier.
When you aim the next arrow, you have a much-improved chance of hitting the bullseye because you know exactly where you are aiming it.
Is Your Ideal Customer Everyone?
Often when small business owners (and lots of bigger ones to) are asked, “who is your ideal customer”, the response is “everyone”.
Technically this could be correct as anyone could buy your product or service. However, it is difficult to target ‘everyone’ as there is no clear message, just a general “buy this because you can” marketing approach. Not sure that is going to be very successful.
And not everyone needs your product or service.
And not everyone will be interested in what you are selling.
For example, a coach could technically help anyone. The coach decides to work with moms so they have already starting to niche down. However, if this is the extent of their profiling, they have not understood that different moms have different issues.
A prime example could be a stay at home mom vs a medical professional with kids. They are both busy moms and may have the same approach in wanting their kids to do well but they will have different issues, concerns and worries.
If the coach appreciates this, their marketing messages would be different for each group of moms.
What Does Ideal Customer Really Mean?
You can have the best product or service in the world but if you do not know who will buy it, you run a major chance of having a very expensive hobby vs having a successful small business.
And you need to understand that markets are dynamic and fickle. Your ideal customer will evolve over time. Just think about 2020 and those changes happened across the globe. Customer attitudes, spending (online becoming king), behaviours and needs all changed. Suddenly the most important products were toilet rolls and flour.
This is an extreme example as it was an extreme time. However, markets change and customers change their preferences.
By being aware of and focusing on your ideal customer, it enables you to develop an effective marketing strategy and ensure you continue to evolve as your ideal customer does.
How it is useful
Generating leads and attracting new customers
Remaining competitive and securing your target market
It is super important to have a deep understanding of what motivates your customers.
IT IS ALL ABOUT YOUR CUSTOMERS
Products and features are redundant if you do not appreciate why there are there in the first place.
The key is to communicate how your product or service will help solve a customer’s problem.
And to understand those problems, you need to know who your ideal customer is.
Ideal Customer Profile
Ideal customer profiles are not fictional characters or generalised characters.
And you can have more than one (if you operate in different markets or have different product/service offerings). However, for the purpose of today, focus is on developing one ideal customer profile.
Defining one customer who you can sell one thing to.
And they will be customers who will find your product or service ideal to solve their problem or need.
The profile is a hypothetical description of the type of customer who would achieve the highest value from your offer
Quickest to buy your offer
Highest retention rates Biggest advocates
What Are You Helping Them With?
The most important question to ask yourself.
This will define your marketing strategy and the messaging you will use. Because you will know who you are targeting and what your niche is.
For example, in my case, I help small business owners develop standout marketing to increase sales. Because I know, my ideal customers want to improve their marketing, they want higher engagement, more profile views, to generate more leads and more sales.
By understanding their problem, I base my marketing messages on how I can help them achieve this.
Two options are available to build your ideal customer profile
Option 1 Desk research – completing the exercise at your desk using information you already know and reseach you can do online
Option 2 Desk and field research – using option 1 and overlaying real information you gain from customers (from asking them face to face, using questionnaires etc)
The advantage of option 2 is being able to use real data rather than just what you think is the case.
The only note of caution is, customers do not always act the way they say they will in research. Testing of their reactions is always recommended (which will be part of any effective marketing plan).
Step 1 Define Your Product or Service Using Your Customer’s Point of View
The easiest way to do this is ask yourself questions
What does your product or service do for your ideal customer?
What problems does your product or service solve for your customer?
What needs of your customer does your product or service satisfy?
How does your product or service improve your customer’s life or work?
Once you have defined the answers, it will help you establish the type of customer who would benefit.
Ideally learn from and understand your actual customers, rather than on who you think your customers are (although I appreciate if you are a start up or do not have customer details, desk research will be your usable start point).
Step 2 Define Who Your Customer Is
Again questions make this easier
What are their demographics such as age, education, occupation or business?
What is their financial situation such as income or savings?
What are their psychographic characteristics such as personality, attitude, lifestyle, values, beliefs?
What is their environment like such as type of home, car they drive, pet owner, holiday destinations?
Note: field research would add to the depth of information on your ideal customer problems
To directly understand what they need
To help understand their struggle
What problem(s) they are challenged with on a regular basis?
What you can do to help them?
Step 3 Identify The Key Benefit To Your Customer Problem
With the information you have gathered, the next stage is to reduce down the benefits you can offer to solve your ideal customer’s problem. In essence, what the killer benefit is
What is the most important benefit to your ideal customer?
What are the most pressing needs that your product or service resolves?
Why should your customer buy from you rather than a competitor?
Step 4 Getting Into The Detail
Great that you have now defined who your ideal customer is and what problem or need you are able to resolve.
Next is understand where they are, when they buy and how they buy.
Where are they?
Where is your customer located?
Where does your customer live or work?
Where is your customer when they buy your product or service?
When do they buy?
What has to happen in their life or work for your customer to buy your product or service?
What time of year, season, month or week does your customer buy?
How do they buy?
How does your customer buy your product or service?
How has your customer bought similar products or services in the past?
What is your customer’s buying strategy?
How does your customer go about making a buying decision for your product or service?
You may not know the answer to all of these questions. And when you first define your ideal customer profile they are not all essential. Covering steps 1 to 3 will build a profile you can base your marketing strategy on (plus any of the info above you can gain).
Over time you can find answers to all the detailed questions which will help you evolve your ideal customer profile.
Step 5 Building the Ideal Customer Picture
Hoorah!! You can now build your ideal customer profile based on the steps you have gone through.
All these factors will help build a picture of who your ideal customer is.
Why not give them a name too? As it will bring your ideal customer character to life.
You could even find an image to illustrate how they could look.
And do your best to fit onto one page as it then becomes an easy reference tool.
Off and Running with Great Content!!
Brilliant news!! You know who your ideal customer is so you can create content that helps solve their biggest problems.
One of the most valuable ways you can use this info is to create content that addresses those issues.
For example, if you are a coach and know you ideal customer is a divorced lady with two children who has a college degree and now needs to start a scary new life, you can tailor your service and messaging to directly speak to her.
“I can help ladies who have anxiety problems”
New message directly to their ideal customer
“I can help recently divorced ladies build back their confidence and begin to face your new life with positive energy”
And include information and resources specifically for her, for example, free guide to rebuilding her family.
Your content is far more likely to attract the ideal customers you want.
Your content will be easier to plan as you know who you are talking to and want to build a connection with.
Ideal customer profiles work as it provides a foundation to build your marketing strategy on. You know who you are targeting and with what (and you know your product or service solves a problem they have so are more likely to buy from you)
Ideal customer profiles work as they help you create and design products and services your ideal customer will love. Whether it is creating new products or services or enhancing existing ones.
For example, if you are the coach above and find through ongoing profiling that your divorced ladies need help to get back into the work place too, you can provide this extra service (adding to your existing service portfolio).
It is worth sharing that you are not restricted to one customer type. Having an ideal customer profile enables you to build more effective marketing, it does not mean you can only work with that type of person.
The profile enables more targeted messaging. It does not restrict you from attracting other customer types.
You will find over time that your ideal customer profile changes so it is important to have it as an ongoing action to refine (maybe over few months or a minimum of once a year).
And Finally Building Your Own Profile
You do not have to build your customer profile on your own.
There are times when accessing a marketing specialist for an important task like this is worthwhile.
It takes time to develop an ideal customer profile but you can reduce this significantly by working with someone who understands the process.
I appreciate there is a cost to do this, however, consider the cost of your time if you want to complete on your own (the opportunity cost may be higher than you might think).
And by someone, I would be referring to myself, Lisa as I am the Little Artisan Marketeer.
I can help you save time in completing the task as I could either walk you through the process or complete it for you (once I have understood about your small business).
No need to feel overwhelmed at the prospect of defining your ideal customer as I can support you in doing that.
And I would love to help you.
You can contact me through this website or via my social media