As business owners, we can often find ourselves spending a lot of time focusing on our marketing efforts, and even if you hire a professional to handle everything for you, it’s always a great idea to keep a close eye on exactly who your ideal customer is. It can feel overwhelming at first, but doing your market research and knowing who exactly you’re talking to can put you in a great position when it comes to your marketing efforts.
This can be easy if you have a specific niche or a very individual product to share. For example, a business selling lights for a cyclist to use in the dark will have a specific customer base, this person might spend time looking at new bikes online, will be interested in health, and may follow, and visit, cycling events such as the Tour De France. But if you are just starting out, or your ideal customer isn’t as obvious to you at first, there are a few things you can do to work out who you’re hoping to send the right message too.
Why do we need to know?
You can send out an advertising campaign with all the information your customers need to purchase or sign up for your product, but if you aren’t aiming this message at the right people then your efforts are likely to fall short. This is obviously a waste of time and money, and as business owners taking care of our marketing budget is one of the best ways to ensure success. So it just makes sense to know who to target and when. Even though we don’t always know who these people are as individuals, we can understand their behaviour and where to ‘catch’ their eye.
In more recent times we are able to gain a greater understanding, and ability to pay for, digital ads online, but we mustn’t forget other options, such as in-store promotions, or networking. Knowing who your ideal customer is will make your business decisions much easier in the long run, will bring you clarity and will ultimately put your product in front of the right person more often than not.
Where do we start?
The first thing we need to do is to make sure we are asking the right questions, asking the right questions of ourselves and asking the right questions of the market you are aiming at. Sometimes these questions are easily answered from statistics found in previous research, and sometimes you need to start from the beginning and conduct your own surveys. If your business has been around a while you can look at existing customers to build a picture of your ideal customer, sometimes called an avatar, alternatively, you can use surveys to gather this information.
Your survey respondents can give you more information than you hoped at times and it can be a fantastic way of finding out what you need to know, and if you find yourself with fewer respondents than you need try reading up on how to get more survey respondents. Business owners have, in the past, discovered issues they didn’t even know they had, and have also come up with completely new ideas from comments made in these surveys. So it is clearly very important to ask questions, but more importantly the right questions, at the right time.
What are the right questions?
Finding out about our ideal customer means asking the correct questions, and many marketers believe that in addition to the age, location, and salary of the person you are talking to, there are a few key points that you should be looking for, these questions start with “Where does your customer get their information”, and that is a very useful question to ask because if this person is only using Twitter for information on where to make their purchases, you will be missing a trick advertising only on LinkedIn or Facebook. It’s quite common for people to find their information in various different places in 2020, and sometimes it’s hard to see the wood for the trees, so being very specific about this question is essential. It can also mean being creative with your questioning to get the right answer. The main thing to remember though is to keep it relevant, if you’re asking questions that are interesting, to the point and make sense to you then everybody wins.
What do we do with the answers?
So once we have our data and all our survey respondents have filled in their questionnaires, we need to act on it. You can use this as part of your research for your marketing plan, and this is incredibly useful information, to build a picture of who you are aiming your product at. Starting with the ideal customer’s age and which generation they are part of, means you will know what their general spending habits are and where their focus lies generally. You will find yourself coming back to the picture you have built of your ideal customer often, to provide you with some insight.
The next step would be to work out where the gaps in your business lie, nobody is perfect but there are very specific ways of getting your message heard, and knowing who is receptive to it. It’s also important to remember that the conversation with your ideal customer is just starting, continuing that conversation right through to purchase/ signup, and even afterwards, will keep your customers engaged and investing in your business regularly. Knowing your ideal customer and their habits will help you understand what after-sales customer service to provide as well, which can help you stand out from competitors.
Whichever way you look at it, you can’t have a marketing plan without knowing who you want to reach, and if you do you may find yourself very frustrated at the results, so it’s always recommended that you do your research before taking any action, your ideal customer will appreciate you for it and so will your profits!
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