19 Feb How do I find out who my ideal customers are?
The most important thing you can do in the branding process and a great place to start, is to define exactly WHO your ideal customer is. Following that, discovering WHERE you going to find them is something that we’re all interested in getting guidance with and I’ll cover this off in a future post.
I’d like to talk you through some of the ways that you as an established entrepreneur can leverage the information you have about the customers you already have and in order to find more of your ideal customers. If you’re new to all this and haven’t had your first customer yet, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered too! Read on…
If you’ve been through the process of creating an ideal customer avatar (profile) before then you’ll understand that this requires quite a bit of research and a decent amount of work. It’s well worth the effort though as it means you’ll hone your messaging with more clarity and be able to speak to the hearts of your ideal customers – the ability to do this is priceless! It’s a skill that you as an entrepreneur ought to keep practicing and honing because it’s crucial to your bottom line.
Keeping your ideal customer avatar/s in mind when creating any content, messaging or marketing about your product/s or service/s is vital to capturing their attention and making them feel like you’re speaking directly to them and about them.
As the CEO of your biz, you wear a lot of hats and you interact with your customer though all the stages of engagement. You’re the salesperson, the person delivering the great service or product, the customer service rep, the branding manager, the online marketing rep, the content creator, the billing department, the networker… the list goes on. Wearing all these hats gives you the perfect advantage to perform this exercise because you already understand your customers from all these different perspectives, so you already have a lot of the answers within you.
In saying that though, it is all too easy to skip this important process and assume that you know your customer inside out when really, you don’t. Or perhaps you think you know them but you haven’t dug deep enough, you’ve put them in a box but you haven’t got to the heart of them. When you deep dive into an exercise like this you come back with little nuggets of absolute GOLD that can make all the difference. So yes, it may feel a bit hard or time-consuming but nothing truly amazing ever fell out of the sky and landed in your lap – you need to put in the effort and focus to reap the benefits.
So, where do you start? It depends where you’re at. Are you an established entrepreneur or a super-keen start-up?
Either way, this 3 step process will get you to a place where you have a crystal clear vision of your ideal client with two slightly different approaches.
1. Make a List
If you have been in business for a while, you’ve worked out what products and/or services you love doing/making/selling and which ones you don’t. Perhaps you’d like to use this exercise to nail down a customer avatar or profile for your favourite products/services so that you can attract more of your ideal clients.
Here’s a great exercise to go through to get you started:
- Pick a product, or set of products, or line of service that you offer which you know makes you profit. (Immediately scrap anything that isn’t financially viable for you)
- Make a list of customers who have bought that product or service from you.
- Go through the list and note which customers generated the most profit. Are there any types of clients that produced unprofitable sales? If so scratch them off your list! (e.g: If you took 100 hours to service a customer who paid $1000 that’s not a great profit generating offering or client).
- Sort your list from most profitable and most enjoyable customers that you’ve had, down to the least.
- Of the top customers, which ones are likely to refer you to their contacts or have already referred you? Remember that happy customers refer! These customers probably found you because there was something about you or your offering that was a perfect fit for them.
This list of a narrow group of happy customers who are likely to refer you their friends, hold valuable information for you that is going to help you nail down your ideal customer avatar or profile.
If you’re just starting out then I’ll assume that you don’t yet have experience of your customer and finding and serving them will be critical to starting on the right foot. Or perhaps you’re launching a new product or service so your existing client base isn’t the right fit.
I can assure you that this is an important exercise to go through if you want to understand your niche and not waste countless hours trying to be everything to all people and not being seen or heard over all the marketing noise from your more experienced and established competitors. Going through a process of discovery is part of your preparation for your big launch, then try these exercises to get you started.
1. Think small (as in your niche!)
When you’re starting out you need to be seen and heard and in a huge market full of noise and big established competitors – you’re fighting a losing battle. You need to find a small group of people who will find what you have to offer really special. make sure you have an amazing solution and that it’s a perfect fit for their needs. Look at what you’re offering and see how you can make it different in a way that will appeal to them more than what the competition are offering. This isn’t always the actual product or service itself but they way you create or deliver it.
2. Create a Value Proposition
Now look at what it is that differentiates you or your offer that appeals to them and describe it in your value proposition.
A value proposition is a statement that outlines to your ideal customer:
- how your product or service solves their problem or improves something for them (proving it’s relevant to them)
- describes specific benefits (proving it’s quantifiable to them)
- tells them why they should choose you over your competition (proving why you’re different)
3. Interview Prospects
As a start-up, you’re missing out on the invaluable experience of relating to your customers in everyday interactions that established entrepreneurs and businesses have. So you need to cultivate an environment where you can gain clarity about what they think, how they feel, what works for them, what doesn’t and what they’re missing right now that you could provide.
The best way to do this is to arrange a one on one meeting with them ideally so you can really get to know them and make a real connection. Failing that, an interview via Skype or Zoom etc could achieve the same result, especially if your market isn’t necessarily local. Another way could be surveying them and capturing their responses to key questions.
In any case, you may need to provide extra incentive as people’s time is precious and there needs to be something in it for them.
If you’re already developing something you could get them to be beta testers for free in exchange for valuable feedback and testimonials.
Get creative, but get the information! You cannot guess or assume this stuff.
2. Capture the key information about your Ideal Client
Whether you’re an established Entrepreneur or a Super-Keen Start-Up, this step in the process will be invaluable to get to know your ideal customer (real or prospective) really well and get into their heads.
You may choose to research into the various questions and areas that will form the basis of the customer avatar or profile and you can choose how few or many you want to have.
Look at all the areas of their life that may impact their buying decisions and select the right questions to ask in order to understand their pain points, what keeps them up at night, their hopes, dreams and desires.
I’ve collated a great bunch of questions and criteria which I’ve compiled into this free template for you to download
This exercise which will save you a whole lot of time and get you off to a great start!
Personally I tend to prefer to capture more rather than less information as it is all valuable even if it doesn’t specifically make it into your profile. There is a lot to be learned from every conversation. However you can pick and choose with questions you ask. I would suggest that you don’t miss out any of the more emotional questions as these are really powerful.
If you’re thinking of sending out a survey rather than interviewing people directly then I’d suggest you stick to no more than 10 questions or you’ll put people off partaking. Their time is precious! Respect it.
3. Write your Avatar
OK so now you’ve got a whole bunch of pure gold nuggets of insight into what make your ideal customer tick. Now is the fun part – you get to create your Ideal Customer Avatar.
You want it to paint a picture of who they are through words and images that are so descriptive and rich than anyone reading it could easily see this person in their mind’s eye.
Take note of all the pertinent circumstantial factors of their life situation and try to be creative when describing them.
For example, instead of saying: ‘Jane runs her own Interior Design business and works 55 hours a week’, you may want to say ‘Jane’s been running her own Interior Design business for 3 years but she works more than she did in a 9-5 job, about 55 hours a week. She works odd hours to fit in around her toddler, during nap times and late into the evenings. When she’s working she’s completely tied to her laptop because communicating with her customers is of utmost importance to her but it’s hard for her to focus in consistent stretches.’
Aim to fit your avatar on one page and give it a name and an image that fits the description. Pin it up somewhere where you’ll see it often and be reminded to keep your ideal customer at the forefront of your mind when creating anything new.
You may want to follow this exercise for multiple product set or service lines then each time you’re creating content or marketing material, look at the avatar and ask yourself, what would Jane think of this? Would this appeal to Jane?
Have fun with this! I’d love to hear about your client avatars at the end of this process and find out what worked particularly well for you and what didn’t.