Remember that the basic definition of business is to serve others, and ultimately, your business should satisfy an unmet need for that group of people. You may have the best idea, with nobody else doing something similar, yet it still falls flat if it doesn’t resonate with a group of people who will actually buy it.
Having a clear understanding of who you are serving ensures that you have a successful and sustainable business. Knowing who they are, where they are and what their ‘pain points’ are ( in other words, how can you help them) will help you determine what exactly to offer, how to describe it, and how to price your goods or services. Knowing your customer also helps manage your expectations on volume of business and income. It also empowers you to tell someone who is not your ideal customer no.
For example, the ideal vendor member for the Texoma Bride Guide is a wedding and events professional who is based out of the Texoma area. They are passionate about going above and beyond for their clients, generous and open to all types of people, and represent their business in a professional way.
But we also serve the couples in the area. Our secondary ideal client is a couple who recently got engaged and is overwhelmed by the wedding planning process. They are planning to get married in the Texoma area, but they don’t have a whole lot of money or other resources. They don’t know the first thing about wedding planning, and they don’t know where to begin.
By knowing who our ideal client, we are able to tell vendors who apply from the Dallas or Waco area that we love their work, but they’re outside of our service area. We’ve done this several times to help maintain the integrity of our group. This understanding of who we serve also helps guide the decisions we make when it comes to serving our wedding planning couples. We don’t have the time or resources to put together styled shoots, but that’s ok because our focus is on education, not inspiration.
Having a clear understanding of where your customers are, not only physical locations but also online spaces will help you tremendously when it comes to determining how you want to spend your advertising dollars and your marketing efforts. For example, we know that our couples don’t read the newspaper. Therefore, we don’t spend our marketing dollars on newspaper ads. We’ve been on the news, and we’ve done radio ads, but we have seen the biggest return on our investment in Facebook ads. So that is where we spend our marketing dollars. This is where our ideal customer hangs out.
So how do you get started identifying your ideal customer? The easiest way to start is with some high-level demographic details: age, gender, income, education, etc.
While it’s important to know if the majority of the clientele you serve are women of a certain age and income bracket, those stats can only take you so far. If you really want to connect with your customers, then you have to know them intimately.
- What is a typical day like for them?
- What are some of their common struggles?
- How can your product alleviate one of those struggles?
- What words and phrasing do they use in conversation?
- What do they value most?
These more in-depth questions about values and interests are called psychographics. And I encourage you to spend your time diving deeper than those surface-level demographic questions and try to answer some of these.
And now I’m sure you’re thinking, “Kate, how the heck do I do all of this?”
One of the easiest ways is to go straight to the source!
Look through your list of current or past clients, develop a survey and send it their way. Create an incentive that encourages them to participate. If you’re a product-based business, maybe you can do a blanket discount across the board for anyone who completes it? If you’re a service-based business, maybe you can have everyone who completes the survey entered to win a free service from you?
Here is what we have learned from surveying Texoma Wedding Expo attendees:
- Our couples are engaged for about a year and a half before they get married
- Their budgets are less than $10k
- They don’t always book their venue first
Narrowing your focus and working with your ideal client on something you excell at doesn’t have to limit your business; in fact, you may find yourself super busy with clients because you are good at a particular thing that they are looking for. So feature that thing, whatever it is. By finding your niche and adjusting your focus to those clients, your targeted marketing efforts will help them find you, and you find them.
Your ideal client is everything, and knowing/defining your audience can help you make better, more informed choices about the direction you want your business to grow, and where to find those clients.