It never ceases to amaze me the number of entrepreneurs and business owners who do not have a clue as to who their ideal customer is and what pain points their product or service solves. Even though I founded an agency called MassMedia, it does not mean I advise my clients to advertise to the masses — quite the opposite.

My industry is known for casting a wide net with a goal of promoting a message to as many people as possible. However, I subscribe to and highly recommend a different approach. A more strategic, smart approach that calls for only targeting the people or companies who are inclined to become a customer or client.

Before any campaign is deployed or any prospect pursued, you must define your target audience. This first step is extremely crucial because it informs most other campaign elements — from the channels selected to reach your audience to the messaging and creative crafted to appeal to your audience.
When defining your target market, it is not enough to just identify your ideal customer. You must also thoroughly understand this person. Beyond just determining their demographic (gender, age, household income, etc.), it’s important to have a deeper understanding of their psychographics such as knowing their hobbies, routines, media consumption, thoughts, beliefs, motivations, and most importantly their pain points that your company can solve.

Having this level of insight will pay off in the long run as it allows you to effectively reach and engage your ideal customer, who is essentially your most profitable customer. This will save you time and money and provides a better return on your investment dollars, positioning your company for long-term growth and success.

If you’re reading this and realize you have no idea who your ideal customer is, don’t fret. You’re not alone. From my first-hand experience spearheading strategic marketing initiatives for more than 23 years, I know firms of all ages and sizes struggle with defining their target market. Maybe your company has been around for a while and you’re so busy servicing all customers, that you’ve never stopped to consider who your most ideal customer is. Or, if you are a start-up you might find it difficult to decide on or articulate the exact profile of your perfect customer. No matter the stage, for your company to grow the right way, you must require strategic marketing that proactively connects your company with loyal customers who will provide the most profit to your company.

So let’s get started in defining your target market. Here is what you need to do:

– Ask the important questions
– Do the research
– Develop the ideal customer prototype

Ask the Important Questions

To begin, identify your target audience by asking the following questions:

– Currently, who are your most profitable customers?
– Which customers are personally most rewarding for your company to serve?
– Who is most likely to be interested in the benefits your product or service offers?
– Which customers can afford your price point?
– Which customers place value on what you are selling?
– What trends are occurring that would help you identify an opportunity in a target market?

Once you have established your ideal target market, begin digging deeper to find out more about them.

– What’s some basic information you know about them? (e.g. gender, age, income, location, language, spending power, interests, etc.)
– What are their behaviors and buying patterns?
– Why do they buy from you?
– What are the biggest challenges they are facing?
– What needs does your product fulfill?
– What are the pain points that your product uniquely solves?

If you are selling B2B products or services, your questions will look a little different. You might want to collect information about your target audience’s industry or the size of the businesses in terms of revenue or employee count as well as information about the decision makers.

Asking the right questions is an essential first step to identifying and understanding your ideal target customer, as the answers will ultimately steer the marketing campaign.

Do the Research

After you have compiled the data and have a picture of who you should be marketing to, next you will want to validate your conclusions with objective data and market research. The data and market research can ultimately come from a variety of sources.

Market research is the process of gathering information about your business’s target audience. To conduct this research, you can send out surveys, hold focus groups or maybe even conduct 1:1 interviews to gather insights. You can also tap into industry and government reports or turn to a professional market research firm to help you gather the data.

Specifically, you will want to validate your data to make sure your identified ideal customers want and need your products and services. You want to make sure to understand what is influencing their decision to show interest and buy. This research should also help inform what’s trending in the industry and how big the opportunity is for your products or services.

Additionally, you will want to conduct competitive research to determine the key players in the market. This will help you identify gaps in opportunities that are currently not being capitalized. Use your competitive market research to understand your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses.

Develop the Ideal Customer Prototype

After asking the important questions and conducting market research, you will want to solidify and finalize your customer strategy by developing your ideal customer prototype. Some people call these buyer personas and some call them avatars. In my opinion, you can call them whatever you want but know this very important information should guide your team and the company’s marketing plan moving forward.

The customer prototype is the development of a fictional character of your ideal customer with a detailed description and valuable insight of his or her life. It humanizes your target audience from a nameless, faceless group by creating a vivid picture of them and their story so you can visualize their perspective. Understanding your ideal customer in this personal way will ensure better marketing results.

Here is an example of a customer prototype for a plastic surgery center that sells cosmetic surgery and aesthetics such as facials and permanent make-up.

Angelina

– Angelina is 39 years old
– She earns $100,000+ a year and is married with 2 children
– She lives in a gated community in Southern California in a home valued at more than $500,000She is a college graduate
– She drives to work in a leased BMWAngelina cares about her appearance; she dresses well and is always nicely put together
– She is very tech savvy
– After work she likes to go home and spend time with her husband and kids. On the weekends she goes to kids’ birthday parties and goes to dinner with friends.
– She spends a lot of her time online, reading beauty and gossip blogs as well as mommy blogs. She also reads industry newsletters and online biz blogs. Additionally, she watches streaming video on her connected TV and mobile devices. She listens to Pandora radio or a podcast on her way to work every morning.
– She loves to get facials as well as her hair and nails done and is considering plastic surgery.
– She loves spending money on her appearance as well as on her kids.
– Her busy work and home schedule make it hard and challenging to book beauty appointments. She has very limited time.
– She finds it difficult to save money on or find time for bigger cosmetic procedures.
– She is fearful of some of the new, invasive procedures.

One of the ways to leverage this customer prototype is to promote your benefits that address the pain points, such as:

– We provide easy online scheduling and night and weekend appointments
– We provide education on new ways to look youthful and ways to accentuate your best physical features through blogs and podcasts

Listen to Paula Y break down the 3 steps for you to follow to help you identify your company’s ideal customer to drive more revenue and profit. Click here to listen to the Podcast.