Marketing isn't cheap, so it's understandable that business owners look for value for money and often that results in a strategy that targets a large audience. But that can be a mistake
Imagine you sell petrol lawnmowers. You might be tempted to target people with an interest in gardening. But some enthusiastic gardeners live in flats and their gardening takes place on an allotment. Others have paved over their lawns to create a parking space and their gardening is limited to raised beds and pots. Others have environmental concerns and prefer electric mowers.
Casting a wide net inevitably produces unwanted by-catch and it's not an efficient use of your marketing efforts. To turn a popular phrase on its head - you need to focus on the few, not the many. And that means identifying your ideal customer.
Identify your ideal customer
The answer to how you identify your ideal customer lies in the concept of the marketing avatar. This isn't a super-dull sequel to a James Cameron movie, it's the initial and most critical stage in a marketing process that will bring your business the right kind of leads. Key to this process is to get your head around the idea of targeting a person, not an audience.
And that person should have six qualities:
1. The customer sees benefit and relevance in your business
Your ideal customer is your biggest fan. Whatever problem your service or product solves, it's a problem your ideal customer has, and you are the best solution they can think of. If your customer loves you and what you do, everything that comes next is easier.
2. They are easy to reach out to
Your ideal customer is someone you can easily get in touch with. Ease of access is crucial.
3. They are receptive to marketing
Choosing someone who is responsive to your marketing is important. The best person might not be the boss of a company; they're spinning so many plates they've trained themselves not to be distracted. Instead you may want to get hold of the person responsible for new plate acquisition.
4. They have a relatively short sales cycle
This involves comparison rather than looking for an absolute value, and much will depend on the type of business you operate, but your ideal customer is the one where a lead becomes a sale in the shortest time.
5. They are repeat customers
Your ideal customer spends money with you over and over again (unless you're a wedding planner). Getting the most from a lead means a sale not being a one-time thing; remember, your marketing budget is an investment and you want as much return as possible.
6. They buy the right things at the right time
Although any customer spending with you regularly is a good customer, that does not necessarily mean they are your ideal customer. Your ideal customer buys your core products, not just your peripheral ones; and your ideal customer isn't one who only buys when you are running a sale or special offer.
Now that you have identified the qualities you need in your ideal customer, it's time to pin down exactly who that person is. Who represents the customers you really want to attract? Who is your marketing avatar?
Identifying your marketing avatar
Step 1: Extract a list of all your existing customers from your database. This list can include past as well as present customers, but everyone on the list must be easily contactable.
Step 2: From this list, choose the customers you liked the most. Avoid focusing on the number of sales you've made with these people or how much money they've spent with you, and instead pick out those that you genuinely enjoyed spending time with.
Step 3: Take your list of favourite customers, and rank them by comparing their real value to your business. Now is the time to be ruthless.
Step 4: Once you've decided on your top customer, get in touch and ask if you can conduct an interview with them. Go into this interview with an extensive list of questions that will give you an accurate picture of what they like, what they do, where they spend their time and so on. The aim is to build a detailed profile of them. That, in turn, becomes the profile of your marketing avatar.
Build your marketing strategy around this marketing avatar and by aiming to reach this ideal customer, your marketing efforts will find similar people, and provide you with the customers perfectly matched to your business.
Written by Shweta Jhajharia is principal London coach of ActionCOACHING.