Imagine your marketing is a car you are trying to navigate down the block. Could you make it with your eyes closed, or would the task be nearly impossible without keeping your eyes open and guiding the car to its destination? In the same way, a targeted approach to marketing helps avoid negative outcomes, regardless of whether your products or services appeal to a broad audience. The economics of real life dictate that only a small percentage of the population is actually ready to buy from you at any given time. With that in mind, there are questions to consider that can help make that “drive down the block” an efficient and safe excursion for your business.
You might be stopping to pause at this time, thinking, “I already know my target audience! Nearly all my customers have x and y in common.” We acknowledge that basic demographic patterns are useful, but that data alone does not reveal your business’ ideal customer. The difference is that an ideal customer is in need of your business’ offerings and is actively looking to address that need.
Defining an ideal customer can immediately provide focus and clarity to your marketing strategy, guiding how a message is crafted and the way it’s delivered.
Whether you’re a new business or have been around for years, these six questions can help be the “GPS” you need to define your ideal customer and set the course to creating marketing that is more efficient and successful:
What intangible problems are you solving?
We begin the search for your ideal customer by first looking inward. How do you, as a business, solve a customer’s problem? Do not merely consider the obvious answer here, because there is often some nuance involved when goods or services are purchased, beyond them fulfilling a tangible want or need. Can you identify intangible concerns or desires among those who frequent your shop? You can take some of the guesswork out of it by hosting focus groups with current and prospective customers, which can help you craft marketing content that speaks directly to their needs and resonates on a deeper, more emotional level.
What are your customers’ demographics?
The next step is gathering some data about what kind of person seems likely to throw their money at you. Start maintaining a profile that contains some basic details like age, gender, location, marital status, income, and education.
These demographics can be identified by reviewing website and social media analytics or by distributing surveys to current customers.
Maintaining a database of customer information and behavior will often indicate details and qualities shared by your most loyal customers. In a broad sense, what are they like? How often do they return to shop? Weekly? Monthly? Once a year? Even small similarities, once combined, can paint a vivid picture of how to define your ideal customer.
What are your customers’ psychographics?
It’s also important to gain some understanding of the mindset and personality of your ideal customers. This continues to develop the approach of attracting clientele far beyond a simple buy/sell relationship. Research should also focus on understanding customers’ interests, activities in which they participate, attitudes and opinions, and value systems. What are they passionate about? What entertains them? Attention-grabbing web content and ad copy must brush up against these deeply-held traits to be truly effective.
What kind of media has their attention? What’s the best way to reach them?
If you’re in the business of selling hearing aids, then making a large advertising purchase on TikTok or Snapchat probably isn’t prudent. Despite what you may have heard, traditional media isn’t entirely dead and may be worth the marketing investment if your ideal customer uses them. There’s also the ever-present world of digital and social media, but not every site or app should be weighed the same. Finding out what has your customers’ attention makes communicating with them a targeted and efficient undertaking.
How are you selling your products or services?
Do you primarily operate out of a brick-and-mortar store, or make the bulk of your sales from an ecommerce website? For many businesses, the answer is both, and each tends to draw different demographics. While an online-only business is likely to find its ideal customer in a younger age range, an in-store only shop must focus heavily on its local market, with less attention given to age.
Who are your competitors targeting?
After conducting the necessary customer research, you’re likely to have a better-formed idea about who makes an ideal customer for your business. But, you shouldn’t ignore who the competition is drawing in! Can you learn anything about their customer base and the similarities and differences it has to yours? Does their marketing signal a different target market? Is it hitting the mark, or are there opportunities to pick up some “hitchhikers” during your “drive down the block?”
A few final thoughts…
By communicating clearly and directly to your ideal customers—rather than blindly blasting a campaign to all corners of the internet—you’re far more likely to build and connect with a following that listens.
Reaching your marketing destination does not have to be a long and winding road! Answering the right questions about who’s buying from you can sharpen brand identity, increase cost efficiency and convert more shoppers into buyers.