Identifying and Working with your Ideal Customer


Everyone knows the old saying, “Put yourself in their shoes.” When it comes to business, putting yourself in the shoes of your customers, understanding and trying to meet their needs and demands, is one of the most important things you can do. But in reality, like shoes, not all customers are equal and what you need to do, to put yourself in best position to succeed, is look for the perfect, ideal fit.

Identifying and connecting with your ideal customer doesn’t just help you in the short term, but gives you insight into how you can scale for the future, ensuring you’re efficiently allocating money, resources, and time where it makes the most sense and where you’ll profit the most.

With all of that said, identifying your ideal customer can be a challenge, but is well worth it in the end. To assist, we’ve put together a structured path that will end with you having compiled valuable data, a profile for your “ideal” customer, and an idea of how to move forward.

Phase 1: Assessment

In this phase, you’re trying to get a better grasp on what the state of your business is and where you want it to go. You want to better understand your customers and start compiling information that will help you identify which type of customer you want to focus on moving forward.

Depending on your business, you may want to reflect on the following:

  • Which customers have been the most profitable? Loyal? Reliable?
  • Which clients have been the best to work with?
  • Which customers have been the most forthcoming with feedback?
  • Which product is the most profitable?
  • Which service or product is coming out soon?
  • In which direction is the industry moving?
  • How do we want to position ourselves?

In the end, you should walk away with a sizable list of criteria you wish to measure, whether that’s customers you want to analyze further, products you want to focus on, or a list of amazing clients that you love working with.

Phase 2: Gather and Measure Data

From your assessment, you should have determined the factors that will influence the classification of your ideal customer. Again, these will vary based on your business and/or overall goals and will most probably connect or overlap with each other.

For instance, you may be looking to push a new product and would want to look at engaged, high-CLV customers that you believe will show or have already shown an interest in that product. Or maybe your long-term goal is to get away from the perception of being a low-cost service provider and will look at clients who have paid you the level you want and you’ve had success working with.

In the end, you’re going to be looking at breaking those customers down into respective classifications that make sense to your goals. A good means of doing this, if you don’t have the information readily available, is to send surveys to those clients or customers and have them answer relevant questions and give you empirical data you can use for targeting (e.g. demographics, industry, size and structure, location, etc.).

Some questions you can ask:

  • What are your challenges? Frustrations? Goals?
  • What is the size of your business? Which industry?
  • How did you find out about our business?
  • When do you usually purchase from us?
  • What prompted you to reach out to us? To continue to do so?
  • What benefits do you see from our products/service versus the competition?
  • What are you delivery requirements?

Phase 3: Analyze

Armed with data, you can now start compiling it all and looking for trends within. This could take the form of a spreadsheet, with fields for all of the relevant customer data.

List all of your results and as you go over the data, the characteristics or demographics that define your ideal customer will start to emerge and you'll be able to identify the type of customer, or customers, that most benefits the needs, demands, and goals of your business.

Phase 4: Create Customer Profile

Now that you’ve done the homework, it’s time to finally create your ideal customer profile. It may end up looking something like one of these:

Congratulations, you now have your ideal customer! Now it's time to get to work.

Phase 5: Get to work

Now that you have your ideal customer, the time has come to find, sell to, and retain them. The best thing about this process is that it now becomes easier to target and speak to your ideal customers because you’ve done the work of breaking all of that down.

Moving forward:

  • Targeted Messaging: Create custom communications that truly speak to your ideal customers. Keep in mind their needs. how they shop, when they shop, and anything else you’ve determined.
  • Developing New Products and Services: Planning for the future is made that much easier now that you know what they’ll want. Best of all, you probably now have a handpicked group of customers you can always connect with and market to.
  • Trends: Understanding the interests, habits, preferences, and many other characteristics about your perfect customer makes it that much easier to stay on top of the trends they're interested in.
  • New Leads: Now that you know who your ideal customer is, you now also know who your most valuable leads are. Consider using a CRM, or Customer-Relationship Management tool, to help you with this process.
  • AI-powered Marketing: Automation tools will take your customer segmentation and automatically connect with them at the most valuable touch points, adjusting campaigns in real time, and providing relevant, timely offers.

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