Marketing insights question: Who is your ideal customer?

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Do you really know your ideal customer?

Over the next few weeks, as we head towards 2012, I want to get you thinking about your business in a new/fresh way.  I’m going to ask a single question in each post — but I’m warning you, these aren’t slam dunk questions.

I’m hopeful that as you ponder my question — it will give you some ideas for making 2012 a break out year for your organization.  If nothing else — this exercise should fine tune some of your marketing efforts.

Who is your ideal customer? One of the biggest mistakes most businesses make is that they cast too wide a net, when it comes to prospecting.  Not all money on the table is good money.   We’ve all had a bad customer.  But if we’re really honest, we’ll admit that they weren’t a bad customer.  They were just bad for us.

Assuming you have a finite marketing budget or that you still haven’t figured out how to extend the day past 24 hours — you have to make some choices.  So why not target the very best possible customers?

Your intentional marketing efforts should be laser focused on those people/companies who are ideally suited to benefit the most from your offerings AND bring you the best benefit (profits, repeat business, referrals, longevity etc.) back to your organization.

Are you running around like Chicken Little, trying to make sure that everyone and anyone knows about your business?  Do you spend marketing dollars on long shots and Hail Mary passes?  If you are — stop it.  Now.

Instead, invest that energy into discovering who your best customer is.  Describe them.  Be able to tell me what matters to them and how they get their kicks.  Know what they drive and why they chose it.  When they go to a restaurant, do they pay attention to the fat content of the offerings, the prices or if there’s a 16 z steak on the menu?

Once you really know who they are — you’ll know how you can help them.  Talk to them about it.  Help them a little so they get to know you before you ask them to buy.  Tell them stories of how you’ve helped other people.  In other words — market to your best customers in a way that creates trust and familiarity.  have you noticed how your best customers end up being your friends?

That should tell you something, shouldn’t it?

Unless you have an unlimited marketing budget and time on your hands – you can’t afford to waste one minute or one dollar on anyone who isn’t ideal.  So figure out who that is…. and stay focused on the people/companies you can help the most.


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7 comments on “Marketing insights question: Who is your ideal customer?

  1. Lesa says:

    I’ve been amazed at home many of my clients resist the idea of “ideal clients”. I think it comes from a combination of wanting to help everyone and not wanting to miss out on a sale. What they don’t realize is that ALL of your clients will have faster, more meaningful successes with you when you focus on working only with those most suited to you and how you run your business. The less time/effort/annoyance you encounter while running your business, the more energy you have for them. It’s really a win/win. Thanks for the reminder.

    1. Lesa,

      We see it as well. A fear that they’re leaving money on the table — as opposed to recognizing how many more conversations/sales could be had if they weren’t zigging and zagging around. Staying the course and being able to focus on a more narrow niche always benefits both the business AND the customers.

      What do you do to help your clients see this truth?


  2. Karl Sakas says:

    Focusing might limit your market, but it makes it much easier to market and sell your services.

    For example, my employer specializes in building websites for non-profits. We have a lot of experience in user testing, which helps us navigate the committee-based decision process.

    It’s easier for me to share that than, “We do all kinds of marketing for anyone and everyone.”

  3. Karl,

    Your example is a perfect one. Because you guys only develop websites for non profits — you can dig much deeper and deliver more value.

    It’s pretty tough to go both deep AND wide. Going deep means you can add more value. Which means more repeat business, referrals and recognition as an expert.


  4. A number of my clients are people who don’t have a lot of budget. That’s why it’s so important for us to go through identification of target customers. Yes, we can be very specific until we discover there are only quite a few of them in the market. However, it also makes us confident with them my clients’ money doesn’t go to waste. After all, they are the ones who display a very high level of interest in my clients’ niches.

    1. Mae,

      Knowing who you are talking to is always a critical step in marketing. But it’s even more important when the budget is snug. I don’t know any company, big or small, who wants to waste dollars. But for the small company — talking to the wrong audience can literally be the end of the game for them.


  5. This valuable editorial was very useful to read, I savored it completely. I’m about now to email it to my collegues to permit them examine this too.

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