A friend recently shared with me about a commercial they didn’t like. They said, “I don’t relate to this commercial at all. I don’t understand it, and it makes me not want to use this service.” 

My response? “Well… I don’t think you’re the target market for this service.”

I find it funny when people talk about commercials they hate because it highlights how people are waiting to be “served.” It seems like my friend really wanted to relate to this commercial. I’m not sure why they felt upset about not relating to it, but again—no commercial is meant to appeal to every person.

Now, this commercial was made by a global brand that probably has the budget to market to many different types of people. They may even have a different commercial that would have appealed to my friend a bit more. However, small businesses don’t always have the luxury of multiple budgets or multiple teams to help implement five different commercials. So, how do you use the resources you do have and within your capacity? By understanding your ideal customer!

What is an Ideal Customer, Anyway?

Whenever I ask someone who their target audience or ideal customer is, I often get the same answer. The common response is, “Well, anyone who wants my service.” Some small business owners may fear niching their audience because it could mean they are alienating others.

However, that is not what we are doing when we are better understanding what an “ideal client” is. Just because you have an ideal client doesn’t mean you are shutting out working with other people. You can create brand messaging for each of these audiences.

You may be thinking that this approach sounds like a lot of work. And yes, it truly is. However, the work is worth it, and that’s why we recommend taking it one step at a time. Different audiences will have different strategies, so consider starting with one audience so you can use your energy wisely! Market to them well before you start thinking about other audiences.

This is why understanding what is an ideal customer matters. Knowing your audience means you can be more intentional and utilize your resources like your time, budget, and energy wisely to market to the right people.

A Few Ways to Think About Your Ideal Customer

Marketing is all about relationships. It’s hard to have a relationship when you don’t know what you’re looking for or what you have to offer. To build a relationship with your ideal customer, it helps to uncover the common personalities and traits of your current customers. This is what you’re looking for. You can then group what you discover into a single “persona”. This persona will give you a better idea of how to position your brand and speak in your marketing.

You may realize you have more than one persona, which is great! Think about it this way: it is possible to have multiple ideal customers in the same way it’s possible to have multiple friends. However, maybe you’re not there yet and still need to identify one persona. Here are some ways to start thinking about your ideal customer.

Think about your favorite (and least favorite) clients

What customers or clients stand out most? It may seem obvious, but reflecting on who your favorite clients have been will show who you like working with. What made working with them such a pleasant experience? What did you look forward to regarding the project and client? Did they take the lead with problem-solving and strategizing, or did they look to you to guide the way? Was there consistency with meetings, reviews, and feedback or did connecting as needed suit you better?

The reverse is true as well. The people you do not like working with will reveal what you do not like. Reflect on what made interactions or work with this client difficult. Did you struggle to build rapport? Did you have to put more effort into selling than you would have liked? Is there a theme with the type of industry or business size? Were these clients more risk-averse or risk-takers?

Identifying patterns and themes can help you put the pieces of your ideal client puzzle together. Don’t be afraid to get the input of your co-workers as well. You may even end up with bonus insight into what is going well and where your team or processes may need more support.

Understand the pain and frustrations people are going through

Understanding your ideal customer is possible even if you haven’t worked with anyone before. Consider the pain points you’re hoping your products or services address. What kind of issues or problems would lead someone to your business or organization? What do these potential customers value? What solutions do your products or services provide?

When you better understand how people are feeling, you better understand how you can change their lives. Think about the type of people whose lives you can help transform and make a big impact on. When you’ve worked with more people, you can start honing in and use client feedback to grow your understanding even further.

Start people-watching (aka, do your research!)

Part of building an effective marketing strategy is having good data. A great way to collect data is through observation. Think about it like people watching. What environments are you noticing potential customers in? Can you observe what they say and do on social media, in Facebook groups, or at networking events?

Also, consider going to businesses similar or adjacent to yours and see what people are saying about them. What do people like and dislike about their services in reviews and comments? This connects back to the previous point and punctuates how important it is to know what problems your ideal audience is experiencing that you can solve. Building awareness may lead you to some interesting insight into what people actually want and need.

Final Thoughts

As you go on the adventure of identifying and understanding your ideal audience, keep in mind that it may evolve. Put in the time, energy, and effort to identify your ideal audience but hold it loosely. As your business grows, make a habit of reviewing the type of people you serve. At least once a year, reflect on who you’ve worked with, get feedback, refine your personas, and adapt.

You may recognize this process of refining and adapting to better understand your ideal customers is important. However, maybe you’re not sure what to do with this information and how to better cater your marketing efforts to your ideal audience. Book a call today so we can get to know more about you, your business, and your goals and how we can help you reach your ideal customers.