When you’re running a small business, time, energy and money are your most valuable resources. Those resources are usually in scarce supply so you have to pay even greater attention when trying to attract your ideal client.
What is an ideal client?
Put simply, an ideal client is a specific group of people who share the same common traits and problems that your offering (product or service) can help them resolve. They buy what you are selling and provide your company the best word-of-mouth recommendation to their friends and networks.
I’ve encountered countless lifestyle entrepreneurs and small business owners who are passionate about a product or service they’ve developed, without ever really thinking WIIFT – What’s In It For Them – and by “them” I mean their customer. If you don’t do this, it just leads to frustration for people landing on your website (or store) who can’t find what they’re looking for, and for you, because you wonder why no one is buying what you are offering.
In finding your ideal client, you need to know with clarity:
- Who They Are
- What You Are Really Good At
- What They Are Willing to Pay
It’s where the three intersect that you will find your ideal client. If you feel you aren’t attracting your ideal client, or enough of them, you need to go back and consider:
You don’t know them well enough
I know this sounds really simple but in my experience of working with work-at-home entrepreneurs all the way to high-growth businesses generating hundreds of millions in revenue, the question “who is your customer” can be a stumper. Just like when you start dating someone, you have to ask lots of questions in order to get to know them. How else will you both know if you’d like to jump into a long-term relationship?
In describing your ideal customer, you want to take into account both demographic and psychographic information.
Demographic data tells you more about the person and includes things like:
- Where they live
- Job title and salary
- Marital status
Psychographic information tells you why they buy your offering and helps tailor your marketing messages:
- Who influences their buying decision?
- What are their spending habits like?
- What type of information are they looking for and where do they look?
- What is their relationship with your company?
What you’re really good at isn’t really what they’re looking for
You’re not charging the right price
- How many units you need to sell, or how many clients you need to service?
- Is that number achievable?
- Is there an entry-level offering your client is looking for?
- Is there a high-end offering your client is looking for?
Are they a mother who does most of the grocery shopping? Is he a husband renovating the house but checks with his wife on all the finishing? Do they ask friends for word-of-mouth referrals or use social media?
Do they buy high-priced items and like known brands? Or are they more conservative and looking for value?
Do they want customer reviews and testimonials, customer support, or detailed product information? Do they search online and what keywords are they using in search engines?
Have they bought before and what was their experience? Did they buy at full price or when things were on sale? Have they also bought competitor offerings and if so, why? What are some obstacles they have to overcome to buy your product?
As an example, the company Girl Two Doors Down mostly sold their “bling flip flops” through retail channels in its eight years in business. Last year they finally launched an online store and a social media presence. Previous to that, because so many celebrities were wearing their flip flops, the company believed that customers who bought their shoes at stores were “celebrity shoe” obsessed females, based on the West coast, in the 25-35 age range.
From Facebook data and email surveys, the last year has shown that customers are mostly coming from the East coast, with a high percentage coming from New York and New Jersey, and their shoes have a much wider age appeal of 18-65. The company also noticed a loyal customer base: repeat customers have a much higher overall purchase – sometimes up to 500% more than a new customer. This information opened the company’s eyes to different marketing ideas and will help improve efficiency for their editorial calendar, targeted Facebook ads and ways to eliminate stumbling blocks for the first-time buyer.
When I started this blog a few years ago, I was writing for a micro entrepreneur with an early stage business who was “time-strapped and cash-crunched.” My goal was to teach do-it-yourself PR techniques to those who couldn’t afford to hire my agency.
While I had a lot of success stories, I also attracted entrepreneurs so time-strapped that they didn’t have time to focus on consistent PR outreach. Yes, PR can be free, but it can take time, which unfortunately they didn’t have.
For a micro entrepreneur, there was also the fear of pitching reporters (while tweeting with strangers or interacting on fan pages doesn’t carry that same fear). Micro entrepreneurs want immediate sales, and PR is higher up in the funnel, generating awareness and building credibility for a new company for example.
Blogging consistently has helped evolve my audience naturally. I now know that my ideal client for this blog is someone that can be in the early stages of their small business, but they likely have someone else to help with their marketing efforts even if it’s a virtual assistant or part-time employee.
Many of my readers are marketers for a small business. That’s because the owner of the business is busy growing the business and working on it, not in it.
Pricing is always a challenge and there are pros and cons to either end of the spectrum – high or low. What’s important to remember is that the only way a business is going to survive is if it’s profitable. So if you love serving a certain clientele but they are not buying – perhaps consider that a passion project and don’t close the door on other types of clients that are willing and able to pay for your offering.
Six-figure launches or seven-figure yearly revenues don’t matter if your costs are high.
When pricing your products or services do you know:
Going back to the shoe company as an example, after realizing that once customers buy their high-end flip flops, they become repeat customers who buy several pairs on their next order, the company offered an entry-level shoe that is on average 25% less than other designs.
In the service or knowledge business, entry-level products might include ebooks or webinars. High-end offerings for Internet marketers include live events for their clients, and business coaches have intensive mastermind programs, for example. I offer exclusive VIP days several times a year – the chance for small business owners to work with me one-on-one for a full day on their business.
What about you? What is one lesson you have learned about finding and serving your ideal client? I’d love it if you posted your challenge or success in the comments below, and please tweet, pin and share this story!
I am blogging on behalf of Visa Business and received compensation for my time from Visa for sharing my views in this post, but the views expressed here are solely mine, not Visa’s. Visit http://facebook.com/visasmallbiz to take a look at the reinvented Facebook Page: Well Sourced by Visa Business. The Page serves as a space where small business owners can access educational resources, read success stories from other business owners, engage with peers, and find tips to help businesses run more efficiently. Every month, the Page will introduce a new theme that will focus on a topic important to a small business owner’s success. For additional tips and advice, and information about Visa’s small business solutions, follow @VisaSmallBiz and visit http://visa.com/business
Elena is founder of a technology PR agency that works with startups to billion-dollar companies. She is passionate about helping marketers and small business owners with practical publicity strategies.
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