If you’ve been reading my last few posts, you’re hopefully getting clear on why you’re starting your online business and what you want to do.
You’ve started thinking about a profitable niche market that is aligned with your passion and you’ve checked to see if people are already spending money in that niche.
The next step is to figure out exactly who you are trying to reach. In other words – you need to define your ideal customer profile.
Before you roll your eyes and dismiss this as marketing mumbo-jumbo, let me explain why understanding your target audience is essential for your business.
Defining your idea customer profile forms part of the WHO equation but we need to go deeper still.
To help you understand the importance of knowing who your target customer is, I’m going to use an example of a great British brand – Boden.
Boden’s Ideal Customer Profile
In case you don’t know, Boden is an upmarket clothing retailer.
The company was founded by ex-stockbroker Johnnie Boden in 1992 when he wanted to launch an upscale catalogue to sell the kind of quirky menswear he loved.
The company struggled in the early days and nearly went bust. But then Boden had a masterstroke.
He introduced a small women’s range that was an instant success. Within a few years they started offering other lines such as teens, children, toddlers, infants and maternity. Today Boden is worth over £200million ($350million) and has expanded to the USA and across Europe.
Although there are many reasons behind this phenomenal success, a brief look at the Boden website and catalogue will tell you why knowing your target customer is so important. Boden have totally mastered this aspect of their marketing and enjoy tremendous customer loyalty as a result.
Despite only having 1 physical shop, they successfully communicate their brand values through their website and catalogues. This has made developing new product ranges and international expansion far easier and more seamless.
There are many lessons you can learn from studying the Boden brand regardless if you are just thinking about your business idea, you’re starting out or growing your business.
Find Your Target Audience
If you look at the Boden website you will see that all the images and messaging are targeted towards a specific demographic that portrays a modern version of the middle-class English dream.
He is a professional in his late thirties, she is a bit younger, say mid-thirties and works part-time, more than likely from home so she can look after their 2 perfect children.
They are sophisticated, proudly British, informal with a preference for value and quality and live in a “nice” part of the country or in posh outer London boroughs such as Richmond.
The secret to Boden’s appeal is that the brand taps into its customer’s psychology and aspirations. They know exactly what their target audience wants, what their problems are and how to present that lifestyle or solution to them.
This means that whenever that ideal customer stumbles across their website or catalogue, they will instantly feel they “belong” because the brand reflects their desires, needs and aspirations. They can “see” themselves in the picture.
This same strategy will work for you.
If you can create a clear ideal customer profile for yourself and build your content, social media marketing and products around that you will draw more of your ideal customers to you.
Over time, this will improve your conversions and make selling your products and services far easier.
Sounds simple, but how do you this?
More Than A Demographic
Defining your ideal customer involves getting extremely clear about who you’re targeting. It’s much more than defining a demographic or segment of the population.
This imaginary person is your ideal customer profile but is also called your brand avatar, customer avatar or target customer.
This avatar is who you will refer to when you’re designing your website, planning and writing your blog posts and developing any marketing materials and products.
The ideal customer profile is more detailed than a demographic because a demographic usually describes broad groups of people eg a childless couple in Boston, senior managers in the recruitment industry, female entrepreneurs aged 30-45.
While demographics are a good starting point, they rarely go deep enough to help you understand that group’s needs, wants and motivations.
There are also so many possible variations.
If we take the childless couple in Boston, they could be
– childless through choice
– undergoing IVF for their first baby
– looking to adopt a child from overseas
– a gay or lesbian couple
– exploring natural fertility methods
Demographics that only consider age, sex, marital status, income level and occupation just don’t cut it.
You need to have more details and be able to add some context to this group of people. For instance, if you’re a complementary therapist specializing in natural fertility treatments, not all of these people will be relevant to you. You need to be able to find more people in the last category.
Create An Ideal Customer Profile
Until you know who you’re focusing on, you’re just targeting anyone. And as I’ve said before, if you’re trying to sell a product or service to “anyone” or “everyone”, you will sell to no-one.
You will also waste a lot of time and money.
That’s why it’s incredibly important to have an ideal customer profile in mind before you start developing your website and content marketing strategy.
Even though you are creating an avatar or imaginary version of your ideal customer it still represents a real person who thinks, feels and believes certain things about the world around them.
To get your ideal customer to connect with you and eventually buy the products and services you’re offering you have to make them feel as though you’re reading their mind, that you understand them.
Because being understood is what we all crave as human beings.
When you let people know that you understand them, you form a connection with them. You reinforce who they are and who they want to be.
And you build trust.
The process of mapping out a comprehensive picture of your ideal customer profile is called Psychographics. Let’s take a look at how it can help you in your business.
How To Use Psychographics
Grab a notebook and pen, or create a new Word document to jot down your ideas.
Start with some simple information first. To bring your customer avatar to life, I recommend you grab an image from Google images or clip a picture from a magazine to represent that person:
Think about the following for your ideal customer:
– Their gender
– Their age
– Their name
– Their hair color/hairstyle
– Their skin color
– Their eye color
– Their height:
– Where do they live?
– Are they married, single, in a couple, divorced or widowed?
– What’s their occupation?
– Do they have children? If so, what is their age (s)?
Now Let’s Go Much Deeper
Think about your ideal person and describe in detail:
– Their typical work day. What do they do and why?
– How do they feel about their work?
– Do they run their own business or work for someone else?
– How do they spend their time off? What do they do and why?
The reason this level of detail is important is that it tells you a lot about their behavior and how they spend their time, both at work and at play.
When you know how someone spends their time you can gain an insight into how they see the world, their worldview.
For example, there is a difference between someone who likes to walk their dog in the woods with their spouse and someone who goes to the gym every day.
Here are some more things to think about:
- Do they watch TV? What kind of shows – drama, comedy or documentaries?
- Do they like going to the movies or the theater?
- Do they work out at the gym, at home to a DVD or attend yoga classes?
- Do they sleep in or are they an early bird?
- Do they volunteer?
- Are they training for a marathon?
- What kind of music do they like?
- How do they spend time with their kids?
- Do they enjoy reading?
- Do they like cooking, surfing or rock climbing?
- Do they like pampering themselves with the latest beauty treatments?
- Are Sundays spent going to brunch with friends or to church with family?
Be as specific as you can about the WHY aspect as it relates to your ideal customer. Imagine their reasons for spending time on these activities.
For example, are they going to yoga to get healthy or to lose weight? Is it for the social aspect because their friends go to the same class?
Do they want to relieve stress from work before they go home to their partner?
Maybe this is a single mom who’s bringing her kids with her to the class or an older woman who wants to improve her flexibility by doing simple yoga poses each day.
Tell Your Customer’s Story
Building up a picture of your ideal customer’s story is very revealing and tells you much more than cold hard facts and statistics about their life ever can. It allows you to walk in their shoes and truly understand their dreams and desires as well as their pain points.
Do the same exercise above for their work day.
What a person does during their workday is equally insightful. It can help you start to see what they might be dealing with every day, and their hopes and frustrations with their life.
Here are some ideas to get you thinking about their typical workday;
- Do they start their day with a green smoothie and a short run in the park?
- Or do they grab a latte and croissant from Starbucks on the run?
- Do they cycle to work or drive their car in heavy traffic?
- Do they take a cab or squeeze up against other commuters on the train?
- Do they power dress in a suit and tie or wear jeans and boots?
- Are they working from home or traveling away a lot?
- Do they serve the public or work in a large open-plan office?
- Are they teaching or creating something with their hands?
- Are they unemployed, retired or looking for a new job?
Don’t forget to think about their why! I’ve listed some pointers below.
- Are they doing that work because they absolutely love it and are completely happy and fulfilled?
- Or are they discovering that what started off as their dream career no longer satisfies them?
- Is it purely for survival and for their family?
- At work, are they struggling with their workload or disillusioned by the lack of opportunities?
- Are they worried in case they lose their job or are they holding down more than one job to make ends meet?
By getting very clear about what this persona does each day, whether or not they want to do it, you can start to see behind the curtain of how their mind might work. This gives you a very revealing glimpse into the hopes, fears and frustrations every human being deals with on a daily basis.
Pinpoint Their Hopes And Fears
By creating an ideal customer profile you are trying to understand the emotions of your ideal customer. What does it feel like to be them?
Take your time with this exercise. The more detailed you are, the more effective you’ll find it and the more it will serve you later. Your content strategy and product development should spin off from this exercise, so make sure you do it.
You can also call on your own personal experience. The chances are that this imaginary person is very similar or even exactly like you.
Consider all of the things you think and worry about. The deeply private and sometimes embarrassing things that you rarely share with anyone.
What are the thoughts that keep you up at night and what makes you happy? What’s really important to you in life that reinforces the person you are and want to be?
Your brand avatar is probably also thinking and feeling those same things.
It All Comes Back To Your WHY
I hope this exercise explains why starting with your own WHY is so powerful.
Not only will it help you understand the deeper motivations of your niche market and how you can help them by offering a range of tailored products and services.
But if you can help people who are going through what you have personally experienced then you have a very unique business advantage.
You are original. You are the sum total of all your life’s experiences. You already possess an expertise that the world needs. All you need to do is get clear and then package that up via a website or blog and add the right products and services.
This is what Johnnie Boden has done very successfully. The lifestyle represented by the Boden brand, that quintessential Britishness, is the very one he and his wife Sophie live with their children. Like it or loathe it, it is also what millions of people aspire to.
When you come from this place of authenticity, nobody can copy you. You will also be able to craft your Unique Selling Proposition (more on USPs later!) far more easily.
Instead of being bland and boring, you will understand what your ideal customer is truly worried about eg never finding love, security or happiness and you’ll know how to connect directly to their heart.
What About You?
Have you defined your ideal customer profile yet? Do you know the audience that you’re targeting? Please comment and share below.
** Places are filling up fast on my upcoming webinar “How To make 2014 Your Best Year Ever”. Don’t delay, please register now if you want to take your life and your business to the next level.