Businesses need customers and clients. Huge corporations, five-and-dimes, cutting-edge behemoths, boutique outfits: if no one’s buying, the business ceases to exist.
That said, not all customers or clients are created equal. The marketplace rotates on the needs of customers, yes, but a business needs to locate ones particularly amenable to what it sells and, once found, appeal to them directly. No matter how great your idea, your business won’t be everything to everyone.
It can, however, be something to someone.
Locate your Ideal Customer, or go out of business: that’s pretty much it.
This next part we can’t stress enough: locate this person BEFORE YOU DO ANYTHING ELSE! You’ve got your Great Idea, and it’s guaranteed to make you millions, but the only prayer it has of actually succeeding is in it finding your Ideal Customer. Before any marketing is done; before any pricing is worked out; before designing a website, branding, promotional materials, or even some aspects of the product or service itself: before anything else happens, you must know your Ideal Customer.
It’s important to note, as well, that we mean your actual Ideal Customer, not what you hope or think it might be. The difference is subtle, but it’s everything, and too many well-meaning small business owners get it wrong. You might conceive of your business as something that a certain person would enjoy and want and need, but do the research and you very well may find that this person you see as ideal is not the one to which your business caters. That’s why this step must come first, prior to major investment or any generated momentum. Waste not, want not, and save yourself an embarrassing later pivot by making sure you get things right the first time.
So then, who is your Ideal Customer?
If you don’t know immediately, off the top of your head, you’ve got work to do. We’re not advising some vague theoretical imagining, either. We want specifics:
- Is it a man?
- Is it a woman?
- Is it both?
- Is he younger?
- Is she older?
- What’s her background?
- What are his hobbies?
- What else might she be into?
- What are his goals?
- What are her aspirations?
- Does she live in a city?
- Does he work with his hands?
- Does she have an active social life? Or want one?
Take it from there, and get as deep into the psyche of your Ideal Customer as you can. Once you know this person inside and out, you can make yourself aware of demographic trends, work social media to your advantage, research, and engage in broader targeting. Some advisors have recommended drawing up a picture or writing a sketch of an actual person with these attributes to make them more concrete in your mind.
And always remember: by Ideal, we mean Perfect.
If you can’t figure out to whom your services or products are most perfectly geared, and you don’t see consistent messaging in your content and materials that targets this person, it might be time to start over. Which is totally okay, so long as whatever comes afterward is geared towards landing your Ideal Customer. Bring in a professional content marketing firm to help with the finer details, and get moving, now, before it’s too late.
Locate your Ideal Customer, and the sky’s the limit for you and your business.