Do you know who your ideal customer is? Who you would most like to have as customers for your business, and is your business set up to attract and retain them?
Businesses often evolve from selling to an initial small base of customers to trying to serve a wider and wider audience, but is this the optimal way? It’s arguable that the broader the audience, the more difficult it is to have a unique selling proposition (USP) and so the stronger the likelihood that price will become a major decision factor. It also leads to fragmentation in the business as you try to appeal to this wide audience.
This is not good for the bottom line – margins reduce and costs rise.
By clearly defining your ideal customer, you can target your USP and diminish the importance of price in the buying decision, so boosting transaction profitability while focusing on a narrower audience that is more likely to buy.
Look at the motor industry as an example – you could argue that a high-end German sedan is essentially the same as a mid-market Japanese one or even a lower-end Chinese one: they have 4 wheels, 4 doors, comfortable seating for 4 or 5 people, a boot and an engine that will let you cruise comfortably at the speed limit.
So why would somebody be happy to pay 5 times more for a 1.3 litre German hatchback than a Chinese one having the same engine and body size?
Simply because each brand has clearly identified its target customers and appeals to the things that matter to them. What’s more, brands with a wide model range have identified their ideal customers for each model type and are able to target their marketing and sales activities clearly at those customers.
Have you done the same for your products and services? Do you know who your ideal customer is for each, and have you built your marketing and sales messaging around this?
The best way to think about this is to define a profile of your ideal customer – often referred to as an Ideal Customer Avatar, or ICA. The principle here is to draw a picture of this ideal customer and so be able to attract those customers with similar values and needs through your messaging. It will be far more profitable than trying “to be all things to all men” as the saying goes.
To help, you might find it useful to work with a template. There are many available through a search, such as this one.
Start with the ‘big eight’ demographics to get an early outline: gender, age, family, geography / location, occupation, job title, income and education.
This gives a broad outline, which you can then refine further by thinking about (and researching from your own customer base as necessary) questions around their goals & pain points, current situation and problem area(s) and values, along with how and where they get their information (magazines, blogs, etc.).
You should now be able to draw a fairly good picture of your ICA and to then see how well your product(s) and service(s) fit; how they will properly address the problems your ICA is facing, providing a valuable solution. Now think about your ICA and the likely objections they will raise to what you’re offering, and what your counterpoints would be to these objections.
You can also take the profile further, if you want to be even more specific on your targeting, with a deeper set of psychographic questions to think about. These include their financial position, career / work and personality, to which you can then add such issues as life (personal and professional goals, wants, challenges), and even build up a backstory for this hypothetical person. The more detailed your ICA profile, the more focused your messaging can be.
Of course, it’s likely that you will have more than one ICA – especially where you have different products and services – the importance being to understand each of these and target your messaging at each.
A well-defined ICA enables you to show the true value of your products and services to your customers, reduces the issue of price in the buying decision, enables your messaging to overcome objections before they’re raised and boots your bottom line. It’s an exercise well worth undertaking.
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Other related posts which you might find of interest:
- “It’s not the employer who pays the wages. Employers only handle the money. It’s the customer who pays the wages.” – Henry Ford
- “Just get rid of the crappy stuff and focus on the good stuff.” – Steve Jobs
- “Excellence is Not a Skill. It is an Attitude.” – Ralph Marston
- “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
- Top Line or Bottom Line?
- Back to Basics – Focus on Product Excellence First
- Measuring the TRUE Value of Your Customers