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ideal client, target market

Why Knowing Your Ideal Client is Important

Take a moment to sit back and think about the people who have been your clients or customers. There are some that left you feeling accomplished. And some who you have had a good laugh with or a great conversation, there was just a connection. The ones who come back time and again to do business with you. They leave a great review on Facebook, Google, Travelocity or wherever applies to your business. These folks, they are your Ideal Client.

Then, there are others. The ones who complain no matter what you do. Those who are never satisfied. The ones who leave bad reviews. Do you really want to deal with these people?

ideal client, target market

When you market to and attract your Ideal Client, you gain the following:

  • Improved clarity to make decisions in your business
  • Increased profits
  • More business through great reviews and word of mouth
  • A happier team having more fun
  • A deeper sense of satisfaction from your business

This does not mean you won’t sell to anyone else, just that all of your marketing efforts are going to be directed at this group of people.

Step 1: Identify the Problem You Solve or the Need You Fill

In a perfect world, every business owner would have identified a problem that needs solving first and figured out the solution, their product or service, next. But we do not live in a perfect world. The majority of small business owners start with what they think is a great business idea and then try to figure out who their market is.

If this sounds like you, then your first step is to describe the problem you solve or the need you fill.

As an example, if you sell eyewear, then the problem you are solving is better vision. If you sell home cleaning services, then your problem might be lack of time with the family. Perhaps you sell organizing services and the problem is clutter and overwhelm. The question is who suffers from the problem?

If you sell eyewear, is everyone who wears glasses an ideal client? If you own a home cleaning business, is everyone who owns a home an ideal client? What about an organing service? Is everyone who is disorganized an ideal client? The answer is no.

Using my own business as an example, the problem I solve is to simplify the process of starting and running a small business successfully by teaching people how to do so.

Step 2: Determine their Demographics

The best way to figure out the demographics of your ideal client is to a market survey. You want to learn what age group they fall into, if they are male or female, what their household income, marital status, family size and education level are. Now, a little common sense comes into play here. If it doesn’t matter what their education level is, for example, don’t worry about it.

If you are selling to other businesses, then you might define # of employees, how many locations they have, time in business, or annual sales.

For example, my service is to teach business owners who want to start or expand a business how they can be successful. Does this mean that every business owner is in my target market? The answer is no. Really big businesses have staff in place to do the many things that I teach my clients about. I define the demographics of my ideal client as business owners with less than 10 employees and less than 5 years in business.

Step 3: Determine their Lifestyle and Values

Now you start to take a closer look at what makes these folks tick. Do they have a busy family life with both parents working and kids in various evening and weekend activities? Are they health conscious? Do they have dietary concerns? How active are they? Are their activities indoors or outdoors? Are they environmentally conscious consumers? What are their hobbies and interests?

If you are selling to other businesses, what does are the company’s values? Is the owner willing to invest in themselves and their business? Are they open to change? Are they action-takers? What associations and networking groups do they belong to? How active is the owner or the business in the community?

Step 4: Determine Where They are Located

Whether your ideal client is a consumer or a business, defining the geographic market you will serve is important. Depending on the type of business you have you may serve a neighbourhood, a town or city, a region, a province, all of Canada or bigger. Online businesses, of course, have the option to go global.

Step 5: Determine Why They Buy

Every product and service has features and benefits; people buy the benefits.It can be challenging to think about what you offer in terms of features rather than benefits. Let’s take a look at some examples:

We’ll start with a house cleaning service. A clean home is a feature, more time is the benefit. Chemical free cleaning supplies is a feature, a healthier home is the benefit.

Perhaps your product is a battery-operated toy. Batteries included is a feature, the product is ready to use is the benefit.

Maybe you sell headphones. A feature is a noise-canceling functionality, the benefit is no interference from outside sounds.

Spend some time creating a list of features and benefits your product or service offers and you will quickly learn why people buy. More time, less stress, safety, the list is endless.

Step 6: Determine How Often They Will Buy

Unless you are selling something that is a one-time only purchase, you will want to figure out how often your ideal client will purchase. For example, a bookkeeper might say that he wants to work with small business owners in the community. Does his ideal client drop everything off at the end of the year to be entered for tax purposes, or do they have their books done monthly so everything is not only ready at the end of the year, but the owner knows how her business is doing financially?

Final Thoughts

The benefits of knowing who your ideal client is are endless when it comes to operating a successful, profitable small business. Once you have done the work outlined in this post, think about giving him or her a name, an image, and write out their story. This is called a Buyer Persona or Avatar. Now you are really in their head and can make business decisions that will help you attract them. My Ideal Client Worksheet provides a template for this process.

PS I am happy to share some of my Buyer Personas with you to give you an example of what I am talking about. You can see them here:

Disrupted Boomer-Gen X Avatar

Vocational Training Avatar

Professional Expansion Avatar

Family Start-up Avatar

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Congratulations! You may download your free Customer Persona Template here. Knowing your customer's story is the first step to creating great marketing.

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