One of the keys to successfully scaling a business is being able to find and identify your ideal customer. You might already have some insight into who this customer is through your business plan. A traditional business plan will outline its target audience through a market analysis. Using Census data, a small business can learn more about its audience demographics. The business may then start putting together a strategic plan that outlines how it will attract, capture and retain this audience. This strategy tends to be used to initially grow a business and its customer base. And when you’ve reached the point in which your business is successfully scaling, it’s time to revisit your ideal customer.
How can you identify prospective customers for your business and continue finding more ideal customers?
Know your product and/or offerings
One of the simplest ways to identify your ideal customer is staring you in the face: it’s your products, services or offerings. In your business plan, you likely detailed your product or service, detailing a basic description, concept and strategy. Your advantage as the business owner is that you know what the product or offering does, how it works and what makes it unique and distinctive.
Now, it’s time to shift gears into the customer perspective. Look at your products, services and/or offerings from the perspective of a prospective customer.
Answer the following questions to better figure out who makes up your ideal customer base:
- Can your product and/or offering help solve a problem the customer faces?
- How does your product and/or offering enhance a customer’s life or make it more satisfactory?
- What are the immediate benefits a customer receives from purchasing your product or offering? These benefits should be communicated clearly. For example, a shampoo that promises shiny hair after use may be advertised and packaged using adjectives like “nourish” and “rejuvenate.” This strategy helps entice customers, especially ideal customers seeking shiny hair, into purchasing your product over a competitor’s offering.
Create an ideal customer persona
An ideal customer persona (ICP) is also sometimes referred to as a customer persona. This is a fictitious description of your ideal customer. Because this persona is fictitious, you can create a highly detailed ICP. The more details you include, the better chance your business has for its products and services to help solve real customer problems.
These details break down by demographics, geographical information, psychographics and socio-economic classification.
Some of the details that may go into your ideal customer persona include the following:
- Household income
- Marital status
- Parental status
- Location (including city, state and country)
- Home environment
- Spending habits
- Values and/or beliefs
- Pain points
Please note that you do not need just one ideal customer persona! Your business may create several personas to identify its (many) ideal customers.
Identify buyer personas
The ideal customer persona is sometimes considered to be the same concept as a buyer persona. But is an ICP the same as a buyer persona? This is not quite the case.
A buyer persona is less fictitious. This persona explores market research and data behind ideal customer spending habits. A buyer persona digs into what the customer buys, how they buy it (whether through shopping online, in store or using another purchasing method) and why they buy it.
Since it is less fictitious, the best place to start gathering information for a buyer persona is to tap into relevant data surrounding your existing customers. For example, if your customers have signed up for your company newsletter, consider sending them a survey. You can ask questions about what they like about your products and/or services and changes they’d like to see in the future to better accommodate their pain points.
Let’s use the shampoo example again. Some customers may identify the price as a pain point, stating that it is too expensive. Take note of common themes or issues customers bring up. Beyond email surveys, you may conduct polls on social media platforms and hold small focus groups to collect customer feedback.
Use data to attract more ideal customers
You understand what your products and/or services can do to help better a customer’s life, as seen from the viewpoint of a customer. You have created an ICP to better identify your ideal customer, and you have started reaching out to existing customers to create a buyer persona.
These actions can help you determine your ideal customer and sell to them. But what can you do to keep finding more ideal customers?
Creating ideal customer personas and buyer personas allows you to gather relevant data about your ideal customer. You have a good idea of what interests them and where they spend their time, so use these platforms and mediums to reach them. Create content for social media platforms that will engage your customer base, and allow followers to share this content with their own personal networks. Advertise in spaces where you know your customers are, such as playing an ad in a podcast your audience listens to. Make sure you are reaching your ideal customer and prospective customers through content in the proper format. If you know your audience responds well to short videos or enjoys long-form blog posts, focus on doing more of what works and what reaches them.
Finally, remember to keep reviewing data over time and stay up to date with trends. Are there new social media platforms your audience loves? Your business might decide to create a presence on these sites. Do they respond well to strong copy in email newsletter subject headers — or are they more likely to click to open if there’s an emoji?
Keep up with your data and emerging trends to continue reaching out to and retaining your customer base.
Originally published July 26, 2021.