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Every business depends on their customers to stay afloat. The problem that many business owners find is that, although they know they have built a product or provide a service that people want, they aren’t too sure what those customers look like. When it comes to target markets, there’s little room for assumptions and crossed fingers. Defining your ideal client helps you stay on track and eliminates the risk many entrepreneurs face in their industries.
Why Define Your Ideal Client?
There are many reasons to define your ideal client. For starters, your marketing efforts are based solely on who you think your customer is. The more you know about your ideal client, the more effective your marketing plan will be. Once you know your target market, you can focus all your advertising and marketing milestones on reaching those people. Otherwise, you waste a lot of money on reaching individuals who don’t care about your brand or what you have to offer.
Additionally, the more you know about your ideal client, the more money you can save. Every bit of effort you put into reaching your customers adds to your overall cost of acquisition. But when you have a thorough understanding of who and where your clients are, those costs can drop dramatically.
Lastly, you can increase your competitive edge by defining your ideal client. Aggressive market competitiveness can give you the upper hand in any situation. For example, as a real estate agent, maybe you notice that many of your clients have graduated from a nearby university within the last five years. Knowing this, you’d be able to make highly-targeted marketing decisions about how to reach the people that will likely become your customers further down the line. You might decide to hold a seminar about understanding mortgages, or offer internships to those university students.
Defining Your Ideal Client
Now that you understand the importance of defining your ideal client, it’s time to put some plans into motion. Write down a list of questions and answer them. Keep in mind that this is preliminary brainstorming, and that you should be backing up your answers with as much verified research as possible (which will come later). Here are some questions to consider:
- What does your product or service do for your ideal customer?
- How does your product or service improve your ideal client’s life?
- What problems does your ideal product or service solve?
- What is your ideal client’s income?
- How old is your ideal client?
- What type of interests does your ideal client have?
- Where is your ideal client located?
Keep a list of all the answers you come up with. To make your list of answers more well-rounded, have other team-members answer it, too. If you’re currently running a one-man ship, try asking a colleague who understands your industry. Having various levels of insight will flesh out the picture of your ideal client.
At this point, what you’re doing is creating a buyer persona. You can even create mood board that embodies your buyer persona, including images of your idea customer for inspiration. Take a look at Hubspot’s detailed report on how to create comprehensive buyer personas, and download free templates.
Using Research To Verify Your Buyer Personas
Now that you’ve created a list and full picture of your ideal client, you can use research to trim around the edges. If you’re already in business and have had a few clients, you’re in a great position. One of the best starting points for defining your ideal client is by taking a look at your current customer base. This will help you determine some trends. Begin by making a list of your favorite clients and taking note of the qualities that make them ideal.
- Do they all have the same revenue level?
- Why did they decide to hire you and what was the key selling feature for them?
- Do they typically have the same common problems?
- What are their personality traits?
- What position do they hold?
These are all things you want to keep in mind. For example, perhaps you might notice that your clients tend to be startups that have already raised funding, highly value company culture, and care a lot about design aesthetics. Less desirable clients might be new small businesses with very strict budgets, or even bigger businesses that have layers of red tape and regulations in place before they can sign the dotted line.
You should also consider surveying your current and previous customers about their habits and interests: this will give you even more insight. Increase your response rate by incentivizing people to fill out your questionnaire.
Even if you don’t a client history, you can still use research to help steer you in the right direction. Fortunately, there are plenty of tools to help you pin down the stats. Start by using Facebook Ads Manager to determine your audience size and other demographic information. This is a very easy way to get accurate numbers. For example, as a real estate agent in Echo Park, LA, you might see what your audience size is for people interested in real estate in Echo Park. You can try different combinations of searches that relate to your industry, too.
You’ll also want to know more about your ideal client’s online behavior, and can find more information about them by taking a look at the many studies published by the Pew Research Center. For example, by taking a look at where today’s users are spending their time online, you can see that the majority of people using the Pinterest platform earn between $50,000 and $75,000. If this is the ideal income bracket you want to attract, you would know that Pinterest is a place where your customers are going, and this might not be something you knew before.
You can also use tools like iSpionage and Spyfu to see where your competitors’ customers are coming from, and where they’re going. Use these analytics both on your own website, and others in your industry.