Targeting the Ideal Customer

A woman interacting with her smart phone

They’re out there. People who can’t wait to buy what you’re selling and turn your small business into a thriving enterprise. The only problem is, they’re not wearing name tags or identifying themselves as yours in any particular way.

That’s why you have to find your ideal customer on your own. And while it’s a little like finding a needle in a haystack, the following tips will help you pinpoint your target – and make hay in the process:

  1. Identify What Customers Really Need

Customers will only buy something that addresses a need they have. If your product or service doesn’t do this, no amount of searching or selling will turn them into ideal targets. For example, if you open a tattoo parlor near a senior community, chances are you won’t be inking a lot of YOLO tats or others, for that matter. In general, most people 55 and up simply don’t feel the need to express themselves with body art as much as 20-somethings.

On the other hand, they may find value in tattoo removal services, having outgrown something they may have committed to skin years earlier. The point here is that you need to think like an ideal customer to target an ideal customer. Determine what they need, then satisfy it.

  2. Be Flexible

You’ve dreamed of owning an authentic pizzeria for years, and finally your dream has come true. But now you can’t understand why customers are asking for gluten-free and vegan options when your pizzas are based on traditional recipes that have been handed down for generations.

Perhaps the answer is that your ideal customer is someone different than you imagined. Too often business owners get tunnel vision and focus on what they want to sell, when in reality the market is telling them loud and clear what it wants. If you’re an astute business owner, you’ll listen to what the market is saying. And you’ll also make the necessary adjustments that will turn customers into ideal consumers.

  3. Narrow Down Your Core Customer

Once you’ve identified the need your product or service addresses and have incorporated market feedback to ensure you’re on target, you can begin narrowing down your ideal customer type.

For many small business owners with limited budgets, email and social media are effective ways to go about this. Test different product offerings in email campaigns using inexpensive platforms, like Mailchimp and Sendible. These let you track responses and quantify exactly who’s responding.

Marketing to this group will help you identify ideal customers, but don’t stop here. Use this group to acquire more ideal customers by offering referral specials and other incentives to bring in business. As these efforts increase, your ideal core audience will grow.

Encourage these customers to like your business on Facebook or give you positive reviews on Yelp! Grow your network of ideal customers slowly and steadily and remember, this is a marathon, not a sprint.

Once you’ve built an expanding core of ideal customers, you’ll find it easier to identify the needs and wants of this group, and how to satisfy them. For many small business owners, this involves trial, error and perseverance. But in the end, it can pay off tremendously.

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