4 proven ways to identify your ideal customer
An ideal customer is someone who can benefit from the product or service that your business offers.
Every business has a concept of who their ideal customer is, no matter the industry. Many of these ideal customers will have some similarities, particularly across similar brands, however it’s highly likely that they also have clear differences. That may seem obvious – but just because you have a similar offering to your competitor, it doesn’t mean to say that your ideal customer is going to be exactly the same as theirs.
In reality, no two customers are the same, and in today’s society, that is what makes analysing and understanding the consumer journey so complex.
Who is your ideal customer?
You likely already have an idea of who you think your ideal customer is, maybe they fall into certain demographics, behaviours or they have a specific need. But your ideal customer goes way beyond these few traits.
If you think about your current customers or clients, are they an accurate representation of who you believe your ideal customer to be?
From experience, it’s possible that your current customers are not who you might explicitly define as your ideal customer. That doesn’t mean to say that they’re not good customers to have. If you’re in the B2B space, it could simply be that they are of a smaller size than the companies you’d like to work with. If you’re an e-commerce business and you want customer retention, it could be that they have not returned to purchase from you again.
With that in mind, perhaps it’s time to reassess who your ideal customer is, especially if you have realised that this doesn’t quite match your current clientele. Before we delve into some more specific examples to identify your ideal customer, ask yourself these three questions:
- What is their specific need?
- What is your perceived ideal customer based on?
- Has this changed over time?
- Do you have more than one ideal customer?
1. What is their specific need?
Why is your product or offering the right solution for them? Does it solve all of their problems, or just partially? In order to answer these questions, it might be an idea to almost go back to basics, and uncover why you created this offering in the first place. If that’s something you might need help with, we’d love to understand more about your business.
2. What is your perceived ideal customer based on?
Have you looked at past customers and created a reflection of those, or is it an assumption of who you thought would be, that turned out to be inaccurate? It’s important that your ideal customer is realistic. The more realistic your ideal customer is, and the more attuned you are to acknowledge that, the more likely you are going to be able to reach them.
3. Has this changed over time?
This question can be applied to both questions one and two – the specific need of your ideal customer, and who your ideal customer is. Both of these may have changed over time; as you’ve developed your business model, product or offering, as you’ve scaled up or down, or even adapted to the market.
You should review the idea of your ‘perfect’ customer every so often, perhaps at the same time that you reassess your business goals, to ensure that these are aligned.
4. Do you have more than one ideal customer?
In many instances, there is more than just one ideal customer and this can be down to many reasons. In the retail space, someone could be purchasing something from you as a gift – therefore they may not fit into your typical ‘target audience’ but they could still be considered an ideal customer.
For B2B companies, it may be that there are employees who feed into the decision maker. While the decision maker is ultimately who you want to reach, it’s important to think about other employees that could have an influence on the decision.
How to identify your ideal customer
There could be so many different factors when it comes to truly understanding who your ideal customer is, far more questions to ask than the below. It’s possible that some of these questions aren’t relevant to your business model, but they should help prompt you to identify, or at least begin to identify, who your ideal customer is.
- What age are they?
- Are they male or female?
- Do they have children?
- Are they married?
- Where do they live?
- Do they own their own home?
- Are they pet owners?
- What’s their level of education?
- What are they searching for?
- Do they visit specific websites frequently?
- Are they active on social media? Which channels?
- What devices do they use?
- What times of day are they online?
- Where are they searching from – at home, in the office, commuting?
- Are they employed?
- Do they work for a large company?
- What industry do they work in?
- What is their job function or role?
- What’s their income?
- Are they getting married?
- Are they having a baby?
- Are they buying a new house?
- Are they looking for a career change?
- Are they retiring?
- What are their needs?
- What are their values?
- What keeps them up at night?
- Why do they buy into certain products or solutions?
- Are they in charge of the decision making process?
Once you’ve reviewed these as a starting point, you’ll be in a much better place when it comes to identifying who you consider to be the most suitable customer or client for your business. It may lead to deeper questions, it could lead to you reconsidering your offering. But by regularly reviewing who you are trying to reach, you’re far more likely to see success with a long term strategy.
Learn more about our process and how we can help you uncover your why.