Finding Your Ideal Customer

One of the first steps in business planning is to determine your target market and their preferences. How do they like to purchase? What are their spending habits? It may sound simple, but really digging into who you want to target and understanding their needs will not only differentiate your product or service but also produce greater business results.

Clearly define what your business offers.
Why did you start your business? At your company’s core, what makes your service or product unique? In your market, what exclusive services does your firm provide? Every business has a value proposition, a unique way of offering a service or product – what is yours? Think about the entire experience your business provides. Your brand value is critical because it’s about the entire package, not just a singular product or service.

Revisit your purpose and your mission.
Your mission and purpose should describe why you started your business. It is the one thing that your employees remember and your customers see in everything you do. Bill Carmody’s article,“True North: Your Mission, Your Purpose and Why It Matters,” says it well – if your mission and purpose is predicated on the “what,” then you struggle to make the hard decisions and realize your businesses goals. As Simon Sinek said in his Ted Talk, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”

Take a look at your competitors.
There is nothing more eye-opening than knowing what your competition offers. It’s rare to be first to market, and even if your product is first, the advantage may not last long. I always advise small business owners to make keeping tabs on the competition part of their routine – looking at the competition should be a habit, not something you force yourself to do as part of a business planning session.

Target your ideal customer.
Small business owners sometimes think that targeting a specific type of customer will eliminate getting their message out. Targeting will produce greater results and bring you more qualified leads. If your business provides interior design services to construction companies and builders, then you would want to further target your services to target construction companies that build medical facilities and focus on that channel. Take a look at “How to Define Your Target Market,”these are excellent tips on how to truly target your customer.

Tailor your marketing message.
Once you know your ideal customer, you’ll need to tailor the message to fit their needs and preferences. Understanding the demographics, behaviors and interests of your customer will help you customize your message to attract that customer. You’ll also make more informed decisions when it comes to determining where to advertise and what types of media to choose.

This exercise does take time and may seem daunting. It’s not only critical, but will also eliminate the guess work as you determine how to market your business. Every business owner wants to get a return on their marketing investment, so why not put time into defining your target and researching to find and truly understand your ideal customer?