Every now and again (hopefully more often than not) you work with a customer or a client and think “This person is the EXACT reason why I went into business!”. For some reason that person or business embodies everything that just seems to “fit”. They like you. You like them. They have a need or a problem. You solve their problem. You also think to yourself “If every customer were just like them I’d be in heaven!”.
Well, here’s the thing. Normally those customers just don’t find you at random (sometimes they do). You had to have done something that made that made them aware of you, attracted them to you, gave them the desire to purchase from you. You either consciously or unconsciously created the right environment that threw the two of you together. The key is to figure out how to do it again and again, right?
Here are a few thoughts to get you started.
One place to always begin is to develop the list of things that makes a great customer great. One way to successfully do this is to invest time in understanding these characteristics. This really goes back to the heart of what your business is at it’s foundation.
Begin by completing these two questions:
- We started this business to _________.
- The key problem we solve is _______ for _______.
Be as specific as possible. Write it down. This is a great brainstorming exercise to do together with your team.
If you’ve been in business awhile, think about those ideal customers that you've had along the way. (And I hope you've had at least a few.). Can you begin to identify the characteristics they have in common? Do some of those characteristics fit into the your responses to the above questions? I bet they fit pretty well.
This is kind of a demographic description. If it’s a company, think about some commonalities like type of business, size (revenue and employees), what their fundamental business problem is, how they found you (if you don’t know, ask them), what roles within the company you interact with, etc. Now, dig deeper. Sometimes the common characteristics do not lie in the easily identifiable ones, but in the less-obvious ones. Think about things like how they collect information and make purchase decisions. Think about their company’s culture is like. Get to know makes them competitive.
If you deal with consumers, begin visualizing demographics like age, gender, educational levels, income levels, needs, problems, etc. Here also it’s important to dig deeper. How do they make purchase decisions? How do they gather information? What do they read? What seminars/educational events do they attend? How did they find you (again, if you don’t know, ask them)?
What should start to take shape here is a really detailed understanding of what that ideal customer looks like. You should be able to picture them clearly.
The next step is to brainstorm ways to attract these specific types of customers. Knowing how they gather information. Knowing what problems they have. Knowing how you are well-positioned to solve those problems.
Using your ideal customer profile, you can craft a marketing strategy that not only “gets in front of them” but also attracts them and helps them understand your unique brand and how you can solve their problems.
attract and hold
Another aspect of this “dance” is to make yourself attractive to these ideal customers. Your culture needs to be focused around how to work with these specific types of customers. Business processes and policies should be crafted with them in mind. Your employees should know how to be on-the-lookout for customers that fit this mold – and know how to reach out to them in a positive, attractive way. Speak their language. Show empathy for their issues and challenges.
The key is to make it attractive and easy for these ideal customers to work with you. You want to create an atmosphere in which they want to work with you – and even recommend your business to others. This is what true customer loyalty is all about. You know and respect and build trust with and design your business around them – and they respond.
The goal here is to truly and deeply understand your ideal customer – and then look for a way to attract more just like them. Will other “less-perfect” customers find you also? Of course, all the time. But when your company and your marketing are designed around attracting those ideal customers, over time you should see the balance in your customer base begin to shift toward those that best fit the ideal customer profile - and away from those that don’t. And isn’t that a form of business nirvana?