target-market-credit-jscreationzs1-300x219Every business serves a customer. That customer realizes and appreciates the value of what your business offers. Customers demonstrate this by buying your goods and services. Identifying and describing that customer is one of the most important elements of your marketing strategy.

In dealing with small business owners who are interested in growing their revenue one of the initial, and most interesting, conversations  is the identification of their ideal customer. When small business owners are asked the question, far too many have one of two responses; “it’s anyone who needs my product or service” or “anyone who ______(fill in the blank)”, which may be something as generic as “has a car” or “lives in a house”. Closely following this ambiguous statement of inclusion, the business owner usually states that they recognize this description isn’t very specific. The business owner acknowledges that their description of ideal customer isn’t really descriptive at all and does not help anyone understand how to refer prospective customers to them.  So why do they continue to repeat these generic descriptions? Maybe they have tried to be more specific but were not able to break through the barrier of the obvious.

Identifying and describing your ideal customer is one of the most important elements of your marketing strategy.

Follow these 5 steps and you will have a much clearer picture about your ideal customer.

  1. Identify your most profitable customers.
  2. From the above group, identify those that refer you to others.
  3. Next, find common demographic characteristics of that group.
  4. Identify the behav­iors that make them ideal.
  5. Give the ideal customer a name and draw a full biographical sketch to use as a marketing guide.

Steps 1 and 2 are fairly obvious. You probably know and like these customers a lot. Who wouldn’t like profitable customers that refer you to others?  Step 3, demographic characteristics, may be a bit harder but most business owners can describe a list of demographics that begins to build a picture.  When business owners get to step 4 they realize this requires a bit of thinking.

Here’s an example of how that usually plays out; While speaking with a real estate professional recently about their ideal customer we were at steps 3 and 4. When asked to give a couple of descriptive terms that would help someone better understand their ideal customer’s behavior, they had to really think. After a couple of minutes they had thought of a few attributes including; first-time buyer, qualified to buy, have an idea of what they want. As we were compiling the list we discussed the fact that other realtors were going to be able to include these on their list and identifying 3 or 4 attributes just wasn’t enough. We talked further and begin to look beyond the demographic and obvious statements into something more meaningful. We discovered that the real unique attributes started coming in around 8, 9, and 10 on the list. We were getting to the very specific behaviors that their ideal customer would demonstrate. For example; numerous years in the same job (stability), how they view neighborhoods (status versus convenience), and the phase of life that they may be coming into or out of (divorce, empty nesters, etc.). Once we had this long list of behaviors, attributes, and descriptive ideas it was easier for us to look at the list and pull out just those that would describe his ideal customer and represent a unique sector of the marketplace.

Try this yourself. Get pencil and paper and just start listing the attributes of the customers that you would like to attract to your business. Get your creative juices flowing by listing those obvious demographic attributes but see if you can go past those by adding 10, 12, or 15 additional. Once you have your list, see which ones stand out, which ones are unique, and which ones align to the value that you bring to your existing customers.

The exercise to identify these attributes allows small business owners to see past the initial demographic and generic descriptions that they routinely describe as their ideal customers and target market. Marketing to a defined ideal customer profile will be far less expensive, more productive, and have a greater impact on your business than trying to market to “anyone who has a _______(fill in the blank)”.

Want to learn more on how you can improve the results of your marketing that will increase your business growth? Take the Valens Point Marketing Audit. It’s free and requires no obligation of further services.

image credit: jscreationzs

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