Who is your ideal customer, the one who will not haggle the price, who loves the product you sell, and proselytises for you? Knowing that person in great detail would be marketing and commercial gold.
Like all gold, it is hard to find, subject to all sorts of distractions and false starts, but immensely valuable when discovered, and discovery is usually incremental, rather than a ‘eureka’ moment. This means it is also a demanding challenge.
What is often also forgotten in the effort to define that ideal customer, is that every customer also has an ideal supplier, one who meets all their needs, delivering value in excess of the cost to them. It is a two way street, and a relationship only prospers where there is value being delivered to both parties.
It is always worth remembering that customers will buy when they are ready to buy, and that is not necessarily when you are ready to sell. The name of the game is to be around when they are ready, with the credibility and value proposition that is compelling to them, which means that the better you understand them, the more effective your revenue generation efforts will be.
How do you define your ideal customers?
I have used the ‘Who, What, Where, When, Why & How’ model extensively to define the ideal customer with my clients. It is an iterative process, deceptively demanding, as it requires decisions about who is not an ideal customer, and therefore excluded from primary consideration. Choices like this are challenging, but necessary, particularly for small and medium businesses which do not have the luxury of a big pot of marketing money, you have to get it right or waste limited resources.
Following is a quick explanation that will enable you to at least start the process
Who: Is the demographics they may exhibit. Where they live, age, sex, education, job, and all the other quantitative characteristics that are available. These parameters are pretty much all that was easily available in any detail until digital tools came along.
What: are their behaviours. Do they go to the opera or rock concerts, perhaps both, do they travel overseas for holidays, what sort of causes, if any, do they support, are they likely to demonstrate their beliefs publicly, or are they just internal. All the sorts of things that offer a picture of how they think, feel, and behave in all sorts of situations.
Where: will you find them digitally, as well as in the analogue (perhaps real) world, and what means can you use to make a connection. Are they likely to be avid users of Facebook, Linkedin or other social platforms, are they comfortable buying on line, do they ‘showroom’ digitally then visit the physical retailer, do they get their news from Facebook and Reddit, or more focused news sites, or even, surprise, surprise, newspapers and magazines.
When: will they be ready to buy? In some markets this is not a big issue, but in many, it is a huge one. For example, if you want to sell to government, the best time to be on the doorstep with an offer is towards the end of the financial year when departments have unspent money left in their budgets. Normally there is a Strong ‘use it or lose it’ mindset in government departments, and they are loathe to lose it, as that will reduce their bargaining power at the next budget round. In private enterprise, the two items that require watching are the budget cycles, getting a major purchase into the budget is often a part of the game, and being aware of changes in the customer and markets that often acts as a catalyst is the second. Takeovers, personnel movements, large contracts being let, are all situations where change is occurring, and the enterprise is normally more receptive to new ideas, and new suppliers.
Why: should they respond to your entreaties, to do whatever it is you are asking of them. What is your value proposition to them? What promise of a new and better tomorrow can you deliver? What can you deliver that is different and more valuable to them than any alternative? If you cannot answer these questions, it will come down to price, and winning a price war is a great way to go broke.
How: will you service the transaction, and the subsequent relationship that may emerge. This is usually down to questions about your business model and the ‘fit’ that has with the customer.
An essential adjunct to the creation of a persona is to create a customer journey map. This is the process that your ideal customer will go through from the initial itch, to awareness, consideration, preference, then to the transaction. This will enable you to use the persona to inject yourself into the decision making and buying process a customer is going through to optimise your chances of success.
I would be delighted to assist you to work through the process, it will deliver significant rewards when done well and implemented effectively.