How to Create an Ideal Customer Profile (the Ultimate Guide)
Learn how to identify and qualify prospects to find higher paying customers.
For most small businesses, finding qualified customers remains one of their biggest obstacles. Given that good customers are so difficult to find, we sometimes wonder if the ideal customer is a myth.
In this article, you will discover:
- The truth about ideal customers and where to find them
- How to avoid wasting time and money on the wrong prospects
- What most small businesses get wrong about targeting ideal customers
- How to create an ideal customer profile, whether you are a B2C or B2B business
Let’s get started.
Defining the Ideal Customer
Before we develop your ideal customer profile, let’s address the elephant in the room.
Do ideal customers even exist?
The answer is yes. And no.
Whether ideal customers exist depends on how we define them. Many times, when we think of “ideal” customers, we imagine perfect customers.
As we know, perfect customers don’t exist. But the best customers do.
This isn’t a play on words. How we define our ideal customer is critical to the success of our brand marketing. It will also tell us how and where to look for them.
Your ideal customer should be someone who:
- needs and wants your product or service,
- is the best candidate for the benefits your product or service offers, and
- appreciates your value and will pay for it.
This definition of an ideal customer is much more practical. It also makes it easier to find people who fit this description.
An Ideal Customer Profile Saves Time and Money
Many small businesses look for anyone who will buy. But going after the wrong prospects leads to an inefficient use of resources. Much of this wasted time and money is the result of a poor (or non-existent) qualifying process.
For example, ads cost money. If your audience doesn’t value your offer, the ad’s response will fall flat. If nothing else, the leads you get will be harder to close.
The more unqualified a prospect is, the more effort it will take to convert them into a customer. Often, these prospects won’t buy at all. By having an ideal customer profile, the leads and prospects you get will be better from the start.
An ideal customer profile keeps you focused on finding the best prospects possible. It also reduces the number of touchpoints needed to make a sale, shortening the sales cycle.
Most prospects will not be upfront with you about everything in the first meeting. In their defense, they are assessing you and evaluating their options. They want to be sure they can trust you before revealing more.
The sales cycle should include touchpoints for prospects in each phase of this journey. With these in place, it takes fewer touchpoints to generate a sale.
Creating Your Ideal Customer Profile
The first step in developing your ideal customer begins with your business objectives. The reason for this is simple. There must be enough demand for your product or service to support your growth goals.
This is one area of targeting that many small businesses get wrong or skip altogether. Instead of working through this step, they jump to customer-centric data like demographics. But it’s important to get clear on a few other points first.
The more your target customers value what you do, the more likely they are to buy it. If you’re struggling to make sales, it could be because you are targeting the wrong audience.
Take a moment to check your growth and revenue goals. Then, analyze and answer these questions:
How Many Sales Do You Need to Make?
This is a simple calculation to determine what it will take to hit each revenue goal.
Who Needs Your Offer the Most?
This helps you identify the people who would benefit most from your product or service. The demand for your offer will be higher among this group.
Does the Person You Identified Above Want Your Help?
It’s likely that many people will qualify as prospects. But many of them don’t know they need your help. Trying to convince people to buy who are unaware that they need you is a tough road to travel.
Instead, focus on people who know they have the problem you can help them solve. These folks are already looking for a solution and will be much more receptive to your offer.
Keep these discoveries in mind as we move through the next steps.
Ideal Customer Profiles for B2C vs. B2B Businesses
Many of you may target businesses instead of individual consumers. The process is similar for both. The framework I am giving you in this article can apply to consumers or companies you want to target.
There are a few exceptions for B2B businesses. When targeting companies, your ideal customer profile will be of the business itself. Here are some characteristics of those companies you will need to define:
- Industry (Vertical)
- Company size (number of employees)
- Department descriptions (i.e. IT, Research & Development, etc.)
- Annual revenue
- Customer types
- Preferred media (website, advertising, social media, etc.)
Use this data to supplement the information you will gather in the sections that follow.
Ideal Customer Demographics
Demographics are the most common component of an ideal customer profile. Here are some questions to help you develop demographic data:
- Marital status
- Number of children
- Property owner or renter
Don’t worry about getting too specific yet. We’ll narrow these down in a section that follows.
Ideal Customer Psychographics
Once you have demographic data, it’s time to explore our ideal customer’s mind. These psychographics are intangible and not always obvious at first glance.
Psychographics relate to your customers’ interests, values, and lifestyles.
Here are some examples:
Think of the problem they have that you can help them solve. How does this problem make them feel daily? What effect does it have on their life?
These answers will provide valuable insight into potential buying triggers. Knowing their pain points will help you communicate with empathy. This is a powerful way to connect with your ideal customer and will give you a competitive advantage.
We never want to manipulate people or play on their emotions to make a sale. But having empathy shows them you understand the problems they have. Once they realize you do, they will trust that can help them. This puts you in prime position to earn their business.
Interests and Hobbies
These provides insight into other products and services your ideal customer buys. It also helps you uncover more opportunities to find them.
As an example, if your ideal customer likes to golf, you could place ads in a golf magazine or hold an event at a golf club.
Buying triggers, mentioned above, are emotions or circumstances that prompt a sale. For example, if someone has a facial scar, it may make them feel inadequate in public settings. So, a plastic surgeon could advertise corrective surgery as a solution.
There are many buying triggers. The most powerful ones stem from emotion.
Other Ideal Customer Profile Insights
As you complete you ideal customer profile, consider these other qualities and traits:
- How much research do they do before they buy? What resources do they use to conduct research?
- What are their buying habits? Do they prefer high-end products and services or cheaper alternatives?
- If your product didn’t exist, what could they replace it with?
- Are there cultural or other social considerations?
This information will help you develop a more complete ideal customer profile. Once we have assimilated data using our template, we are ready to bring our ideal customer to life.
Not everyone in your target market will be identical. After all, your audience consists of human beings. Each individual human will have their own set of problems, values, and goals.
Creating buyer personas helps us visualize a real person that we want to target. This brings our audience to life and makes our communication more effective.
In this step, you can get more specific on the details, such as age, gender, values, and interests. I’ll create one to give you an example.
Our initial target audience may be women between the ages of 35-45 with a college education. These are professional women with busy lives who make $100,000 per year or more.
Now, let’s get more detailed by creating a buyer persona.
Meet Jill, a single, 37-year old white female from Oregon. She works as a program director for a local television station and just received a promotion. Her new position pays $125,000 and is the most money she has ever made.
She has never been married and doesn’t have children, though she hopes to change that soon. Jill made a conscious choice to focus on her career and takes great pride in her accomplishments. When she isn’t working, Jill spends a lot of time on the phone and on video conferences with friends.
Jill is excited about her new role, but she isn’t sure how her co-workers feel. Before the promotion, she was one of “the gang”. Now, she is their boss.
Her new position has given her a boost of motivation and inspiration. Now, she plans to reward herself. Currently, she is trying to decide on new furniture or the living room or the bedroom. To research her options, Jill plans to check the local stores and compare it to what she can find online.
That is enough for now. Notice how in-depth this description of “Jill” is. Though she is an imaginary person, the detail provided here makes her more real. As a result, it becomes much easier to market our product or service to this ideal customer profile.
From this description, “Jill” falls into these demographic categories:
- Single female
- Between the ages of 35-45
- Has a college degree
- Income of $100,000 or more
- Corporate professional/management
- Not married
- Does not have children
Looking closer, we can also draw these conclusions about her using psychographics:
- Is a high achiever
- Takes pride in her accomplishments
- Intentional about her career choices
- Wants to find a life partner
- Wants children
- Is a social person
- Cares about her relationships with co-workers
- Rewards herself for significant achievements
- Values the way her home looks
- Will do some research to find the right solution
- Is receptive to making big purchases online
As you can see, creating a buyer persona for Jill tells us a great deal about the way she thinks. This information is much more valuable than the demographic profile.
Not every detail in Jill’s bio will apply to all females in your target audience. But we are describing our ideal customer. It’s up to us to define who that person is.
Create a buyer persona for every ideal customer in your target market. Then, you will have an arsenal of information that you can use to create powerful marketing. This will generate interested prospects who are better qualified to buy.
Creating an ideal customer profile will help you focus on finding better prospects. These people will be more interested in your offers and easier to close. They will also appreciate your value and be more willing to pay your price.
Buyer personas provide a detailed description of individuals in your ideal target audience. These help you visualize the person you want to do business with. This process will help you connect with your audience much faster.
If you need help developing your ideal customer profile or buyer personas, email me at [email protected].
Until next time,
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