How well do you understand your ideal customer? How much time do you invest in getting a clear portrait in your mind? And is that portrait giving you actionable insights? Does it show you clearly opportunities to turn that customer into your committed advocate?
Reality Is Not Always What You Think
Through what kind of lense are you looking at your customer? Of course, you know your market, but do you really see, hear and feel how to satisfy your ideal customer better than any competitor?
I remember the day after my first cataract operation, discovering that actual colours were nothing like I had thought they were the day before the op! My own lenses had got cloudy and I had missed a critical part of the picture! I learnt an important lesson that day, one that applies to business too: It is important to update the lense and refresh the view. When did you last reconsider the portrait of your ideal customer? When did you last really listen and observe what your ideal customers think and feel? Are you clear on the best fit between the market and your business?
Understand Your Ideal Customer Better Than Anyone
“The consumer is our boss”: That is the first of the 5 principles that every employee of the Mars Group learns and applies to everything. I was fortunate to discover and live it early in my career and to start my marketing and sales journey in market research. There is great value in learning first to draw insights into the customer behaviour, heart and mind rather than rush into push-selling.
Today’s new “marketing gurus” have rediscovered this vital principle: Success starts with understanding your customer,and building a better strategy than your competition does. Typically that means segmenting your target market into groups based on their wants and needs, their desires and pain points: in other words knowing what they cannot easily achieve without you, your product or service.
Not every customer is ideal for you. And you cannot be all things to all people, it is never a good base for customer loyalty! Your ideal customer is the one that has the best fit with your business purpose and capabilities. It is the customer you must fully satisfy. Focusing on your ideal customer means you spend less energy on getting better results.
The functional Portrait of You Ideal Customer
By “customer” here I mean the buyer/ decision maker who may or may not be the end user (think of buyer/user combinations like adult/child, owner/pet, business owner/managers/staff …).
Of course you need to know some “functional” facts about your ideal customer. Such things as socio-demographics, and for business-to-business markets, what kind of business they operate, what role they have, the context in which your product/service is going to be bought and used ….
Indeed for business-to-business markets, you need to have facts both on the person and on the organisation.
The Emotional Portrait of You Ideal Customer
Another part of the picture, often missed or misunderstood, is the emotional elements of the portrait. I’m talking about insights that allow you to attract, connect and engage with your customer. I choose to group these emotional dimensions in 2 categories: the emotional foundations of the customer and the emotional triggers “weighing” on the customer.
The emotional foundations include the person’s and organisation’s mission, vision and values. Both personal and organisation layers matter (hopefully they are coherent! The 2 perspectives have complementary implications.
The emotional triggers are the frustrations, the pain points that become unbearable and define a need for a solution. They are also all the influences (“trusted” people, social media, information….) that affect decisions.
A Insightful Customer Portrait That Guides Decisions
If you are like me, you love to go straight to the point and you love one-page maps and plans … I structure my customer portraits so I can easily visualise and memorise blocks of emotional and functional elements. The framework looks like this:
This kind of visualisation may also work for you. Try it! Is the December /January period a bit quieter for your business? Then it is a perfect time to “play” with this portrait and create a new or updated view of your ideal customer.
You’ll agree that can all be too close to the situation to see the big picture. It may feel a bit hard to take our own blinkers off. Members of The Network Of Consulting Professionals know how to help business owners through that process. So let’s understand your ideal customer together.