In business books and educational resources, you have probably heard about the need to find and target your ideal customer. In this post, we explore in-depth what an ideal customer is and how you can identify and market to yours, regardless of the size or stage of your business.
What is an Ideal Customer?
There are many ways to define the concept of the ideal customer or ideal client. Any way you slice it, it all really boils down to satisfaction. What kind of work and relationships will bring you the most satisfaction as a business owner? What type of customer can you most predictably create a satisfactory solution and experience for? At the intersection of these two questions lies your business’ ideal client.
Why is it Important to Pinpoint Your Ideal Customer?
There are three main motivating factors that should drive your effort to find the ideal customer.
The first may seem selfish, but as a business owner, it’s probably at the forefront of your mind: your own happiness and job satisfaction. When you are serving customers you like in a niche you feel passionate about, you are likely to be happier with your role and with your life in general. This satisfaction is vital, not only for your quality of life but also for the quality of your work and business. Research from Oxford University shows that happy workers are 13% more productive, and Recruiter explains that people who are happy with their work are more creative and collaborative.
The second reason to find your ideal customer is to improve customer satisfaction (and thus also increase customer retention/return rates and word-of-mouth. When you are serving the clientele that your product or service is designed for, customers will feel understood and satisfied. To build on that, when you are working with customers that you like and you find easy to work with, you’re more likely to exude good vibes and do solid work. This mutual feeling creates a rapport between you and your client and ultimately results in an optimal customer service experience. When this happens, your customers are going to come back time and time again and recommend you to their friends or industry partners.
Finally, having a laser focus on your ideal customer makes marketing so much easier. If you’re trying to do everything for everyone, your message will get muddled. The truth is that virtually no products or services are universally useful. Once you narrow down your niche and your target audience, creating meaningful marketing materials is a breeze. You know what you’re saying and who you’re trying to reach, so all that’s left is logistics.
Steps to Identify Your Ideal Customer
If you’re struggling to find and target your ideal client, you’re not alone. These are the steps we recommend to find out exactly who you should be targeting.
Make a list of your existing clients and determine which of them are ideal customers
If your business has been operating for a while, odds are you already have at least a handful of ideal clients. Take a look at your current client list and think about who you get excited about – whose name do you see on an order, email, or support ticket that you look forward to handling? Sometimes, it can also help to single out your problem customers and figure out if they have any characteristics in common.
2. Consider your product or service from the customer’s perspective
If you had to give a one-sentence pitch of what your business offers, what would that sound like? It can be really hard to narrow this down, but it’s important that you do. If you need help with this, check out our previous post about unique value propositions. With a UVP in hand, you should be able to determine the problem or pain point you are best able to solve.
3. Think about the demographics of your ideal audience
Based on the previous two questions, consider whether there are any demographic factors that can help you determine who your ideal customer is. Are they urban, suburban, rural? Are they young professionals or retired adults? Do they work long hours in an office, or are they stay at home parents? Are they trendy or practical? Are they big spenders or thrifty? Based on the problem your business solves and the characteristics of the clients you currently like, you might be able to develop a persona of an ideal customer that matches who you should be targeting in the long term.
How to Target Your Ideal Customer
Many professional salespeople will tell you that the key to sales is listening. In the era of big digital marketing, this is definitely true. Regardless of whether you’re using social media, email or text marketing, or more traditional formats like newspaper or radio ads, you will find that your job becomes much easier with a UVP and an ideal customer. The most important thing is to let your target audience know that you are familiar with their pain point and you have a solution. Find a way to connect with them, either by talking about your own experience with that problem, by posting testimonials from clients who had similar problems, or by doing a deep-dive blog post or webinar on that pain point. Once you target one particular audience and their problems, you will find customers flocking to you because they feel heard and understood.
Good luck finding and targeting your ideal customer!