How To Define Your Ideal Customer
You probably had your ideal customer in mind even before you started your business.
Since then, you’ve tweaked your products or services continuously, creating promos and highlighting features specifically to attract those customers, deliberately using language that they understand.
This is a great way to go about it, and it’s likely to be the focus of everything you do. But it’s not uncommon for businesses to make assumptions about what their ideal customers want and how much they need it. Defining your perfect customer or target market involves doing research to make sure you don’t mislead yourself about who is going to spend money on your product.
Where to start
It’s good to define your target market before you launch your business. Whether you’re in retail, hospitality, or any other industry or market segment, the defining process will allow you to test a lot of assumptions before you spend too much money on ineffective strategies. It’s also a lot cheaper to change your marketing tactics this early on. But, even if you’re not a new business, it’s always helpful to keep defining your ideal customer.
If, for example, you run a B&B, is your ideal guest a tourist? A travelling sales rep? Or is it someone who works in your area Monday to Friday and goes home on the weekends? Similarly, if you own a coffee shop, do you cater primarily to busy commuters rushing to get to work? Or do your best customers prefer to sit for an hour or two enjoying coffee and cake with their friends?
Of course, there are many more examples depending on your market segment. But once you have defined who your ideal customer is, you can tailor your product, service and marketing efforts to better meet the needs of your target audience.
How it helps
Defining your ideal customer or client can give you valuable insights into important data:
1. Is there actually a market for your product or service?
Do the research and find out if there’s a high enough demand to sustain your business long-term. Are people or businesses buying what you have to offer? How large a share of the market can you reasonably expect to win?
2. Who are the customers in your market?
Once you’ve confirmed there are enough customers out there, it’s time to get more focused. Ask yourself who those people are. To which age group do they belong? Do they work in specific industries or sectors? Where do the majority live and work? Do they share the same interests and hobbies? How much do they earn on average? Is your ideal customer a man, woman, or are you targeting both?
3. How do your customers think?
Now that you’ve identified who your ideal customers are, you can begin to dig a little bit deeper. What do your customers care about? You can use this information to promote the benefits of your products and services that consumers are likely to find most relevant. How and where do they shop? Getting your products in front of your customer is half the battle, especially if they like to shop online. Where do they find product information? This is where you want to run your PR, ads and promos. Who do they turn to for advice? See if you can enlist key opinion leaders to give your brand a stronger profile.
The internet is a great resource for demographic data. You can browse statistics on your target customers, and you’ll have access to credible research carried out by trade and industry groups, marketing institutions and even companies you’re competing against.
Where to go from there
Now that you have enough information, you’re ready to start a conversation with your customers. There’s nothing better than hearing their input one on one, via focus groups, questionnaires or surveys. If you already have a following on social media, be sure to visit the same forums as your customers, so you can learn what moves them, what concerns them most and what they love or hate. If you don’t yet have a following, try investing in some targeted content marketing to expand your online presence.
While it’s true that defining your target market is just the first step in finding your ideal customer, if your business is still in the start-up phase, then there’s no need to get carried away by the process. At this point, you’ll be aiming to confirm there is an actual market there, and you want to learn a little about who the people in that market are. Too much research now might well see you clogged down in data and could slow your other business efforts. But, as your business progresses, you’ll want to continue to learn more about your target customers.
Remember, the better you know your target customers, the better you can understand their wants and needs, and the smarter, and more cost-effective, your marketing will be.