What is an ideal customer?
Traveling along my professional journey, I have witnessed a startling number of organizations that waste efforts and miss opportunities by marketing and selling to the wrong groups of people. If I made a pedestrian level guess as to why, I would think that a major cause is fear, a fear that if they don’t scatter shot their efforts they will miss much-needed opportunities. I do believe a deeper reason exists, it is this: they never defined the ideal customer for their products or services.
To define the ideal customer we just need to start with a very simple statement:
an ideal customer is a very best customer for your goods or services.
Now that we have a place to start, how can determine who is your very best customer?
The Fit Test!
As my (fast approaching 100-year-old) mother likes to say
“If the shoe fits, wear it.”
Let’s take a look at this analogy. If your business were a shoe, would the people you are currently trying to attract and sell to, fit your shoe? What I mean by this is, does what they need, value and can afford to buy align with your business?
This one seems obvious, I would guess that most organizations would say they are only selling to people/organizations who need their product, but I bet there are more than a few who would just say, everyone needs our product.
Defining and ideal customer is first and foremost about matching or fitting a solution to a problem, then it is a matter of refining the profile where things like budget, willingness to buy and advocacy come in. Here are the top four questions you should ask yourself when you are trying to determine your ideal customer:
- Do they have a problem that your offerings can solve?
- Do they have the willingness to spend what you charge to solve that problem?
- Will they find satisfaction with your solution?
- Do they have cultural barriers to doing business with you?
- Will they likely advocate for your business when you solve their problem?
The order is important. If the first one isn’t yes, then none of the others should be asked. If the first one can be answered yes, then you progress further down the list. The last one is not easy to ascertain, so it is last, and you can continue to sell without every client being an advocate, but as your refine your ideal customer profile, you will start to see who would be so happy that they would spread the news and advocate for your brand. The more of these you get, the less you will spend in the future on marketing, sales, and advertising.
Look at your current customer base, look at how your spend your time with your customers. If you have customers who take up a lot of time but don’t appreciate your offerings and the price you charge, then you have to ask yourself are they a good customer. It has been said that business who do not know how to attract ideal customers likely suffer from a paradigm where a few customers are a pleasure to do business with and value your offerings and many do not, they just got caught up in the nets when you were trolling for customers.