Updated: May 5
Finding your ideal customer may seem like a daunting task for any business owner. I’m here to tell you the effort is more than worth it. By finding your ideal customer early on, you’re able to directly focus all of your marketing efforts where they matter most. In fact, most businesses that haven’t thought about their ideal customers are spending enormous amounts of money and effort towards marketing campaigns that are too broad to bring in high-quality leads or conversions.
Finding a customer that fits exactly what you’re looking for, then successfully selling them your product or service should be one of your main focuses as a business owner. In order to find this perfect customer, you’ll need to be introspective about your business -- both from the consumer and seller point of view. Here are a few main points you could use to find your business’ ideal customer.
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1. How does your target demographic behave?
This is a question that most business owners have considered. But here, I’m asking you to go deeper. Of course, the first things you should focus on are demographics: gender, age, salary, education level, marital status, employment, and area they live in (rural, suburbs, etc).
But have you ever thought about the hobbies or interests of your customer? How about the type of car that they drive? Maybe their preferred grocery store?
i.e. Jack is a 34-year-old male living in the suburbs of Dallas. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree and now works for a consulting firm making $90,000/yr for his family of 4. His wife and he both drive a Chevy Malibu and buy groceries at Whole Foods.
All of these are valid questions you should be asking yourself when thinking about your customer’s demographics. The answers will start to give you an insight into some of their priorities when it comes to purchasing. It’ll also give you a starting place to look for your next ideal customer. Finding your ideal customer doesn’t end here but it is a great starting place. The next point will help you look at your product or service holistically.
2. Think about your product or service from your customer’s point of view.
Diving into the next step of finding your ideal customer, you have to think about your product or service from the point of view of a prospective customer.
What problem does your business solve for them? How does your business stand apart from other competitors? What’s important for a customer when shopping around for this particular purchase? When would a customer be making this purchase in their life? These are all questions that a customer will be asking themselves about your business.
i.e. “I really need someone to redo the stone around my house. I want to make sure that it’s done correctly, so I definitely don’t want to skimp out on my budget. Since the stone will affect the appearance of my house permanently, I want to know that the company I use knows what they’re doing. I’d love to see pictures of their projects so I can make sure they have the expertise I’m looking for.”
The answer to this question will help you not only see where your business is potentially slacking and could improve, but also identify highly-sought after traits you can market.
From the example above, I want a company that has pictures about their past projects so I can ensure they have enough experience with stone detailing for a home. If your company has an entire gallery of before and after pictures, you have a competitive advantage compared to other companies that may not. In this stone detailing example, your ideal customer would be someone who values experience and isn’t price-sensitive. However, for a new burger joint downtown, that may not be the case. Here instead, the ideal customer may value the taste or atmosphere of the place.
3. Where does your customer spend time online?
This is one of the most important questions because it’ll likely help guide your marketing strategy. You have to take the customer profile you’ve built up until this point and think about where your customers spend their time online.
Do they frequent any particular niche facebook groups or subreddits? Are they active in any online forums? Based on their interests, where can you expect an online presence? Do they have a preferred content format (text, video, blogs, etc.)? Where are they engaging on a regular basis (YouTube channels, Twitter account, influencers)?
i.e They’re a part of a home improvement group on Facebook in which its members share their home improvement projects. They look for advice on a subreddit called r/HomeImprovement and they particularly prefer short 60-second videos highlighting easy tips for projects. On Youtube, they’re subscribed to Third Coast Craftsmen, a channel dedicated to showing crafts from cleaning a home deck to making an outdoor movie screen.
These answers will determine the type of content you’d like to put out for your customers, such as videos or text how-to guides. The goal here is also to determine the best communication channels to stay in touch with existing customers and attain new ones. By asking yourself these questions, you’ll be able to find out who they’re interacting with socially and how you can begin creating content they can consistently look out for, making them a recurring customer.
4. What are your customer’s purchasing habits?
Now that you’re beginning to understand your ideal customer, it’s important to realize that knowing who they are isn’t enough. You have to dive deeper; it is essential to understand how they handle their purchases, small or large. This question can be especially useful when your product is a high-value and low purchase frequency (like a car). Overall, understanding how your customers interact with and manage their money is important.
Some questions you should ask to figure these purchasing habits out: Does your consumer buy things impulsively? Do they research meticulously? How long in advance do they need to think about a purchase before buying? How has your customer bought similar services in the past? Does the price of a product influence the amount of time needed to purchase?
i.e Samantha is not an impulsive buyer. When purchasing things that cost more than $100, she takes her time before buying. Her purchasing strategy is extensive. She likes to look at all of her different options and their reviews before buying. However, for things below $100, she’s likely to go with what looks good and passes the eye test. In her case, the price of the product definitely influences the amount of time she needs before making a decision.
This is one of the final keys you should think about when determining your ideal customer. If your product or service is of high-value, you may want to allow for more time in your sales process for customers that need it. This can be anywhere from periodic follow ups via phone calls or automated emails curated to their needs. Things like price sensitivity, social proof, and purchasing options are all essential steps you must evaluate and implement within your sales funnel.
5. Survey your existing or past customers
The final step is like the icing on the cake. By surveying your customers, you’re able to get insights about why they decided to do business with you. This is one of the most essential parts about being a small business owner; being able to review your past sales and optimize your processes using information from your customers. Now there are definitely many ways you can use this, from collecting emails as you fulfill your product/service, to offering a type of incentive for receiving their email. Regardless of your desired method of collecting these emails, once you have them you can send out a simple survey using platforms such as SurveyMonkey or Qualtrics.
Here are some examples of the things you’d like to find out with the survey:
How did they find your product or service?
What competitors did they look at before settling with yours?
If they decided not to come back and purchase from you again, why?
Conversely, if they’re a repeat customer, what keeps driving them back?
What is your company’s strong suit, customer service or the quality of your product/service?
With enough responses from your customers, you’ll be able to formulate exactly what people like or what they think you can do better at. You’ll be able to see what’s currently working well for your marketing strategy, and inversely, where your weak points are. You may also get some valuable insights on something many business owners seem to forget: your competitors. Evaluating what your competitors are doing well at will continually help your business grow and stay ahead of the curve.
Now that you have a picture of your ideal customer, it’s time to curate your marketing strategy to reach them. You understand what content they’re more receptive to, you know where they spend their time online, and you know what their purchasing habits are.
By introducing these intentional steps and processes within your marketing efforts, you’ll be on your way to finding your ideal customer and providing your best service.