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Finding the Ideal Customer for Your Business

Posted by PCC Small Business Development Center on May 27, 2015

finding-the-ideal-customerYour business is unique, and so are your clients. Instead of setting out a wide-reaching net, forget the idea that your product or service can be everything to everyone. Those successful with customer outreach and retention have a focused strategy to understand, track, and please a targeted consumer. By creating an ideal customer profile, your business can begin to build a community of clients that will bring you the most important thing: loyalty.

How to Identify Your Ideal Customer

1. Use Real Data—Not Guesswork

Figuring out who your ideal customer is isn’t a matter of identifying a group you hope to target. Instead, it’s essential to look for real data points to drive your analysis. Sales Hacker suggests studying your current customer base’s historical data to see which customers are your most profitable and successful users of your product or services. By focusing in on these two metrics, you can get an idea of what makes these people or businesses ready, able, and willing buyers. This model will also help you figure out which customers have the ability and desire to pay a premium price for your product—and which ones have the potential to become repeat clients.

2. Understand Why Your Customers Choose You

Once you’ve identified your highest-potential customers by using data-driven analysis, it is time to look at your company’s products and/or services. What makes your business unique? Why is it better to choose your company over your competitors? What problem do you solve for your customers? In other words, you must identify what it is about your business that makes your clients want to purchase from you—particularly for repeat buyers.

One way to do this is by convening a focus group or survey. Take a small group of the ideal customers identified in Step 1 and come up with a list of questions or conversation topics that can help you recognize what about your company they like or to what they are attracted. Be sure to be involved in this process in a hands-on way: determine the questions yourself, and, if possible to do without biasing the subjects, ask them directly to your customers.

3. Make Customers Real People

When using data-driven results to create an ideal customer profile, many businesses often make the mistake of focusing on overall results—for example, “70% of our customers prefer us because of our price point.” However, simply looking at strings of numbers is not going to help you identify who specifically is your ideal customer. Instead, work to build a fuller portrait of this customer by creating an “ideal customer” profile to help display the type of real person that is attracted to your company.

This can involve collecting demographic data such as age, income level, race/ethnicity, location, and nearly any other category that you can think of. Add a name to drive home the “realness” of the customer. Here is a great example of an ideal customer profile for a high-end wine retailer:

Gerald is 43 years old, earns around $75,000 per year, and is married with one child. He owns a house in the suburbs and prefers wine to beer and spirits.

Again, use whatever data points are applicable to your particular product or service to build the profile.

Keep Your Ideal Customer Profile Flexible

While finding the ideal customer is a great step, it is important to remember that, just as your business is always evolving, so too should your ideal customer. The wine retailer mentioned above, for example, might decide to expand into beer, or it might move from a suburban location to an urban one. When such changes in your business structure occur, your ideal customer will also inevitably change. So long as you remain flexible and reevaluate your ideal customer profile when circumstances become different, you will be able to stay on top of ideal customer identification.

Figuring out who makes up your ideal client base does not have to be an intimidating prospect. By focusing on real data, learning more about why your customers choose you, and using both sets of data to create a profile of your ideal customer, you can be well on your way to readying your small business for its greatest successes yet. Just don’t forget to remain flexible as circumstances change—they hopefully will as your business succeeds and thrives.

50_marketing_ideas Like what you've read? Subscribe to stay updated.  The Oregon Small Business Development Center Portland Community College has  helped thousands of businesses over the past 40 years. We combine one-on-one  advising with programs taught by business experts, giving our clients the  resources they need to grow their businesses. We’ve celebrated many successes  with our clients. We'd love to celebrate your success. 

Topics: Professional Development, Small Business, Growing a Business, Sales & Marketing

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