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DEFINING YOUR IDEAL TARGET CUSTOMER
One of the most important things that you’ll do in your business and in your marketing strategy is to define your target customer. Everything else in your business is based on it and flows from it, so it’s very important that you do this first and that you get it right.
If you get this right at the very beginning, it’s going to make things easier in your business. You’re going to know the problems that you need to solve for your customers. You’re going to know the products and services to offer — what are the right products and services. You’re going to know how best to communicate those things to your audience. You’re going to know where to find them. And you’re also going to know, competitively, how you need to position yourself.
You probably keep a lot of this stuff in your head already. You may think, “I kind of know this. I have a sense of it. I’m doing it today. I know who my audience is.”
But, if it’s in your head, I’m going to encourage you right now to get it out of your head and get it down on paper. If it’s not written down, it’s very easy to get off track, sometimes without even knowing it. You want to have it written down so you can hold everything you do up against it.
How to Define Your Target Customer
The first thing you can do is imagine the perfect customer. Imagine a specific person—someone that’s ideal for your business. You can also look at themes over the last 6-12 months in your business — the people you’ve worked with, the people who have purchased from you, the people who have used your services over the last 6-12 months. Think about the ones that were your best and most ideal customers. What are some of the patterns and themes you notice among those customers?
If someone walked through your door, visited your website, or if you met somebody tomorrow, how would you know that they’re an ideal fit for your business? What are the things that you would notice? Write those things down.
You probably know what those things are. You know how to tell if someone’s ideal. So actually just list them out: How would you know?
Tips to Consider When Defining Your Target Customer
You want to think about things like demographics and geographics (where they’re located). In B2B (Business-to-Business), you’re going to think about things like industry. Those are all important, but you’ll want to go beyond that.
Think about their defining attitudes and beliefs. What are the things they value? What are the things that they think? Those are actually going to be, in many cases, more important than demographics.
Goals and Challenges
Other things you want to think about are goals and challenges. What are this person’s goals? What are they trying to achieve? What are they trying to get? What’s motivating them? What are the things that stand in their way? What are the challenges? What are the issues that they face?
You can apply this to both their life context (goals they have in life, things they’re trying to achieve for themselves, and the things that get in the way), and also a category context (the category that your business operates in). So, if you’re operating a service or product business, they might have goals or challenges related to that category.
Where You Can Find Them
The other thing you can ask is: Where are they? Where do they go?
It could be physically. It could be virtually, online. Where are the places that they tend to hang out and get information. You’ll want to list all of those things out as well.
Create a One-Page Profile
Once you think through all of the things that we’ve just talked about, the best thing to do is create a one-page profile. Make it easy on yourself—it’s a single page. Take all the answers to these questions and write them down on a single page. Capture them for your business, for yourself, for anyone else that you work with so that you have it in place.
Defining your target customer using these tips will help guide you and make sure you stick to your strategy. That way your messaging doesn’t get off track and you do things according to the strategic goals that you want to achieve as a business.
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Kevin Namaky is CEO at the Gurulocity Brand Management Institute, a marketing education company that trains and consults for notable brand teams including Kimberly-Clark, Scotts Miracle-Gro, Bolthouse Farms and Gorilla Brands. Kevin is a featured instructor for the American Marketing Association, lectures at the IU Kelley School of business, and has been featured in Ad Age, Forbes, Fast Company and the CMO Council. Previously Kevin worked for 20 years in the corporate and agency world growing notable brands. Follow/connect with Kevin on LinkedIn, TikTok and Twitter.