When I ask any of the small businesses that I speak to who their ideal customer is, the majority still say ‘everyone’. My second question is then along the lines of “When you create marketing content – who are you aiming to engage with then?”
Before you even start to write that blog, LinkedIn post or Facebook advert – the very first step in your marketing should be to define your ideal customer.
Because today’s marketing has got to be relevant and timely for the recipient, so marketing to everyone pretty much means engaging with no-one!
It’s not easy to do
Many small businesses say defining their ideal customer is one of the things that they really struggle with. I cannot emphasise enough that you should not do any marketing without first knowing who it is you want to market too.
Even when small businesses do focus on certain customer types, they are still not defining them closely enough so they end up attracting customers that, if truth be told, they don’t really want to work with. Here’s an example:
I had lunch with some small business owners one of whom is a Hypnotherapist. Although they specialise in some particular areas, they still thought that potentially ‘anyone’ was their potential customer. They then mentioned how many smokers they get enquiries from and that most of them are attempting to give up because someone else wants them too – such as partner, kids, family. While explaining this, the whole attitude of this individual became quite negative as it was obvious that they got zero satisfaction out of working with these people. So, I raised the point that working with those types of customer was not their ideal as they do not get any enjoyment and or success in working with them. The penny started to drop then as while they wanted to target those who wanted to stop smoking, the marketing messages needed to change to engage with those who were truly interested in giving up for themselves, not anyone else.
Focus on what you are passionate about in your business
So that’s another element often overlooked when defining your ideal customer. You not only want to focus on attracting customers who need your particular service or product but you should also be attracting the ones where you get to do the type of work you truly enjoy and are passionate about!
Small businesses don’t necessarily intend to be all things to all people; it often just happens from a lack of focus and a prospect on the phone asking for some help in an area that’s not their real specialism or the work they enjoy the most. The driver is they need to pay the bills and need to get some more work through the door to do that.
While it may seem great to take these customers on board, if that customer isn’t a good fit, it can actually stunt any real growth. In some cases, trying to work with customers who are not ideal can lead to such a bad experience for both you and the customer that you actually create vocal critics for your business – it’s all too easy to give bad feedback via social media or Google reviews. While I’ve not had any bad reviews, I’ve been guilty of working with customers who are not a good fit for my business – it’s a very easy trap to fall into when you’ve got bills to pay but in the mid to long term it just creates a lot of frustration and no job satisfaction either.
Get really niche!
Most small businesses are best suited to serve a narrowly defined market – a sweet spot. This doesn’t mean the sweet spot won’t grow, evolve and change altogether as the business develops, but at any given time there is an ideal customer (and maybe 2-3 variations of that ideal) for the majority of small businesses.
The trick is to discover who they are in the most specific way possible, and then build your entire marketing strategy around attracting them.
How to define your ideal customer
You will need to begin by profiling them, this will help you develop your marketing content as you will understand how your service or product can help them to achieve their specific goals.
- Pick no more than 1-3 variations of your ideal customer – be specific and realistic – they should have many common traits
- Think about the ones you have loved working with and why
- Think about any where its not been a great experience
- Focus on how your service/product can help them
- Be as targeted as you can be – age, where they live, lifestyle, finance – even give them a name
If you don’t have your ideal customer defined as something much more specific than ‘everyone’ then we need to talk! I offer 1-2-1 sessions to help you do this so please get in touch so your can discover who your ideal customer is and make 2020 the year you engage with them and start to see those leads increase!