Do you know who your ideal customer is?
The answer to this question isn’t as obvious as it seems. For example, if you developed a new navigation device for automobiles, your ideal customer is not “everyone who owns a car,” even though you likely envisioned that when developing your product. Your ideal customer could be described as “car owners that want to have the shortest and most relaxing commuting experience.” While those audiences may seem similar, they are not.
The ideal customers, you want to attract with your marketing efforts are those who (a) make the greatest financial impact on your business in terms of both revenue and margins, and (b) have great marketing value, due to their marque name or because they refer others just like them.
Your marketing makeover includes a concentration on your ideal customer.
Download this tool: Profitable Customer Worksheet
Apply This Common Sense Rule To Your Business
Have you heard of the Pareto Principle? It’s also known as the 80/20 rule, and was developed in 1906 by an Italian economist named Vilfredo Pareto. His findings were specifically about land distribution in Italy, namely that 20 percent of the people owned 80 percent of the land. However, experts have applied the 80/20 rule to a number of areas, including marketing.
In business, the 80/20 rule refers to the opinion that 80 percent of your best business comes from 20 percent of your customers. These are your ideal customers, and they’re the people you want to attract more of with your marketing plan.
How to Identify Your Ideal Customers
You already know that your ideal customers have a greater impact on your revenue, but it doesn’t end there.
These customers are a pleasure to work with, because they appreciate the value of your business, pay their bills on time and without a hassle, and aren’t always looking for you to make exceptions for them.
Ideal customers also refer others to your business, by telling their friends and family about you and sharing their love of your business on social media.
A vital part of your marketing makeover is developing a better understanding of these customers.
Start by actually talking to a few of your best customers. You can do this in any number of ways, from one-on-one interactions to surveys to email.
Ask these basic questions:
1. Why did they choose your business?
2. Why do they remain with your business?
3. What could we/our products/services do for you that we don’t?
4. Do you refer us? If yes, why? If no, why?
5. What do you do that other businesses don’t?
On the last question, you want to go beyond the surface. To that end, ask the customer to explain his or her answer. You want a lot more than “great customer service.” You want to know why this is important to the customer, how it impacts them, and how it makes them feel.
Download this tool: Customer Insight Survey
Defining Your Ideal Customer
In the past, basic demographics like Age, Education, Gender, Income, Marital Status, Number of Children, and Job Title was the place that everyone started when building their ideal customer profiles. While that may seem like the natural place to start, but it’s not going to help you.
To get the most clarity, you need to look at psychographics. These include:
• Problems: what problems are they trying to solve? What has held them back when attempting to solve the problem?
• Attitudes: How do they feel about a set of issues?
• Behavior and Lifestyle: Where do they hang out? How do they spend their money?
• Hobbies and Interests: What do they watch and read? How do they spend their free time?
• Personality: What is their sense of humor?
• Values: Are they socially conscious? Do they go to church? Are they politically involved?
• Influencers: Who do they look to for advice and expertise?
• Media consumption: Where do they go to get information. How do they want to consume information?
• Decision-making: What information do they need to make decisions related to the problems they solve?
Your customers’ psychographics and behaviors tell you what they believe, what motivates and influences their behavior, and how they consume content. One of the ways to discover the psychographics of your audience is to study the habits of your ideal customer.
You may be wondering, how are these things important to my marketing strategy?
Developing an understanding of your audience is a powerful component in creating your marketing content. Think of the differences between children’s books, young adult novels, and adult novels. If you were writing a story about Dracula, you would tell the same basic story in dramatically different ways, depending on your audience.
Psychographics, in particular, play a large role in crafting and delivering your content. It helps guide the use of humor and cultural references, as well as where you place your message.
Download this tool: Customer Persona Worksheet
It’s Time to Fire Your Bad Customers
For many, firing a customer goes against everything they believe about running a business. But there is such a thing as too many customers, especially if they’re the wrong customers.
Your bad customers aren’t necessarily bad people; they just aren’t a good fit for your business. Unlike your ideal customers, they don’t pay promptly, they often push boundaries trying to get something for nothing, and they consistently ask you to make exceptions for them.
Let’s face it, when working with less than ideal customers they may not be getting the best from you or your company. This is probably not intentional, but because they are not a good fit for your business. They are not in the optimal areas of your service delivery or your wheelhouse for support. Because they aren’t getting your best, they aren’t likely to refer others to you – which is the natural outcome of a good marketing system.
Your marketing makeover should include a good customer cleanse.
You have three options for firing your bad customers. The first option is to move them from the bad list to the good list. Determine if investing the time and effort to teach and transition them from a bad customer to a good customer is possible and worth it. What would make them pay on time? Make fewer demands? Refer you to others?
The second is the “rip off the Band-Aid” method: tell them plainly and simply that you will no longer serve or supply them. Like removing a Band-Aid, a quick and single motion separation takes less time but may be painful.
The third, somewhat less drastic option, is referring them to another company, one better equipped to handle their needs. This requires you to find the replacement company, plan their exit, and orchestrate a smooth handoff or transition.
The third option won’t always work, but you may want to try it after you have determined they cannot become good customers.
This is particularly true in this age of online reviews and social media. A bad break-up sometimes comes with repercussions – and your bad customers may not be as understanding and kind as you would like for them to be.
Your motivations for firing your bad customers are many. Removing bad customers helps free up time to service your ideal customers (and getting their referrals), improves the morale of your staff, may positively impact your bottom line and allows you to tightly focus your marketing.
Know where to Take Your Message
Once you identify and concentrate on who your ideal customers are, you also narrow the focus of where you go to reach them. Understanding your ideal customer lets you know where to they hang out, offline and online.
Generally speaking, if your audience is 20-year-old college students, you wouldn’t run ads on television; this is the streaming generation and they aren’t watching traditional television. Likewise, if your core customers are over 65, you probably won’t find many of them on Instagram or Snapchat.
A concept to keep in mind is called narrowcasting, in contrast to broadcasting. Even though it runs contrary to what you may have always believed about marketing, talking to a smaller audience comes with a number of benefits.
First, of course, is the ability to talk directly to those ideal customers you are working to grow. In addition, measuring the effectiveness of your campaigns is much easier, just as managing those campaigns are simpler.
To understand where to take your core message, refer back to the information collected in your ideal customer interviews and the psychographic information you have assembled. You’ll want to pay attention to what content they consume, how they consume it, and who influences them.
Download this tool:Marketing Channels Worksheet
As a general rule, you’ll want at least these channels in your marketing portfolio:
• A business building website,
• Social media profiles that reflects your ideal customer preferences,
• Email that nurtures and encourages progression through the buying journey,
• A well-defined referral program.
In addition, you may have one or more additional channels. This might be print advertisement, broadcast, direct mail, PPC, tradeshows and networking, partners, or others. As long as the decision to use the channel is based on the information you have on your ideal customer, you’ll likely be successful. Keep the list of channels as small as possible.
As you monitor results, this narrow focus allows you to quickly discover what’s working and what isn’t, making it easy for you to double down on what works and abandon what doesn’t.
Now that you know your core message and your ideal customer, you’ll need to set up systems to ensure you are consistently reaching them. Your marketing makeover includes systemization, the topic of the next step of the marketing makeover.