7 Steps To Identify Your Ideal Customer or Client

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Let me ask you a question: who is your ideal customer or client?

If your answer is, “Everyone!”, you NEED to read this!

Failing to define you WHO you serve is a common and costly mistake made by many entrepreneurs so don't think you are alone in this one!

While it’s tempting to think that everyone needs your product or service, in reality, working off this assumption will inevitably lead you down what I call the “make no money” path.

In your attempt to serve everyone, you will end up doing a serious misservice to the people who need you most. The products, services and content you create won’t hit their mark with your audience, and you’ll continually find you’re attracting the wrong people.

In other words, in your efforts to serve everyone, you’ll end up serving no one!

If you are trying to serve everyone, you’ll end up serving no one!Click To Tweet

This article will help you pinpoint exactly how to find out who you serve. This way you can make sure you create, sell and promote the right products, services and content that will attract your ideal customer.

7 steps to identify your ideal customer or client

Use the following seven strategies to figure out who you serve – or who you should be serving!

1. Use some good old-fashioned brainstorming

As you’ll see below, there are many great strategies and tools for defining your target audience. However, none of them can replace this essential first step.

If your product or service is going to be successful, it’s going to have to solve a key problem your audience is facing. So, before you go any further, ask yourself this very important question:

What specific problem am I trying to solve?

For instance, let’s say you’re a business coach. More specifically, you love to help small business owners learn effective sales strategies and techniques.

In this situation, the main problems your potential clients are experiencing may be the inability to find or attract customers, the knowledge or skills to do online marketing, or perhaps the budget to outsource certain key tasks.

Brainstorming the problem(s) your ideal customer has is the first step in defining who you serve.Click To Tweet

Once you’ve defined the main problem your services solve, dig down and think about the key demographics of the people you’re trying to help, including their:

  • Gender
  • Age
  • Interests and hobbies
  • Occupation
  • Location
  • Relevant behaviors (e.g., How and where they shop, how much they are willing to pay, etc.)
  • Average income
  • Level of education

While brainstorming isn’t an exact science (by any stretch of the imagination), it will give you a good foundation as you work through the remaining six steps below.

2. Survey your existing customers or clients

A survey can be a great way to get information from those who have bought from you in the past. You can then use this data to pinpoint exactly who is most likely to buy your products or services, or to interact with your content in future.

When creating your survey, start by asking questions about basic demographics as noted above. Depending on which survey software you use, you can even use demographic survey templates like those offered by Survey Monkey and Typeform.

Besides demographic info, be sure to ask probing questions about key issues and problems they face so you can better define your value proposition.

I’d also recommend asking HOW and WHERE your existing customers found out about you, so you know what you need to do and where you need to be go in order to attract more like-minded customers or clients.

Asking how and/or where an existing customer found you is the perfect way to find more of 'em!Click To Tweet

3. Dig into your Google analytics

Your website analytics can provide a wealth of valuable info for helping you pinpoint your target audience. In fact, this is probably the #1 way you can figure out EXACTLY who you serve, and who you should serve in the future.

There are a few key sections I would focus on, depending on your goals:

To find out who has bought from you in the past: Depending on how you currently track sales or conversions, you’ll look in Behavior ⇒ Events, Conversions ⇒ Goals, or Conversions ⇒ E-commerce.

Find out what topics or content-types your target audience likes best: Go to Behavior ⇒ Site Content, and sort by Page Views.

How to find out how most of your target audience found out about your site: Go to Acquisition ⇒ Overview, and dig down into each channel to find specific info.

If you want some basic demographic info about your audience: Go to Audience ⇒ Overview to find info like country, city, language and even operating system used.

4. Social listening

The strategies above are great, but they’ll mainly give you info about the customers or website visitors who have already found you.

If you want to find out a little more about the people who are currently looking for your products, services or content, eavesdropping on social media conversations is the way to go!

Using tools like Mention, AgoraPulse or even Google Alerts, you can keep tabs on common questions or problems that come up related to your industry. It will also give you a good idea of WHERE your target audience hangs out online.

Joining industry groups on Facebook and LinkedIn to see WHO is asking questions and what kinds of questions they’re asking is a great way to ‘listen' to your ideal customer.” quote=”Joining industry groups on Facebook and LinkedIn to see WHO is asking questions and what kinds of questions they’re asking is a great way to ‘listen' to your ideal customer.

Joining industry groups on Facebook and LinkedIn to see WHO is asking questions and what kinds of questions they’re asking is a great way to 'listen' to your ideal customer.Click To Tweet

Some other places to keep tabs on:  Subreddits related to your niche, and Q&A sites like Quora and Answers.com.

5. Social media analytics

Most of the major social networking sites provide a way to analyze your existing audience using built-in analytics tools: Facebook page Insights, Facebook group Insights (new!), Twitter Analytics, Instagram Insights  (for business accounts), Pinterest Analytics, etc.

To find out who you’re currently serving and how to attract like-minded people in future, pay special attention to:

  • Your audience demographics
  • Content formats that get the most reach and engagement (i.e., text, images, videos or links)
  • Most popular topics
  • Most popular social networking sites for your audience

Understanding these key features about your audience – like WHO they are, WHAT they like and WHERE they hang out – will not only help you discover more about those you serve, but will help you choose the perfect audience for your social media ads!

6. Get insights about your visitors using Quantcast Measure

If you want to take your website analytics up a notch (or two or three!), you’ll want to check out Quantcast Measure (note: Quantcast offers premium tools for businesses and publishers, however Measure is FREE!).

After placing a piece of code on your site, Quantcast will be able to give you key insights into your audience demographics including age, gender, household income, education level and ethnicity.

These insights alone are valuable for identifying those you serve. BUT, Quantcast offers much more than this!

Some other insights you can glean:

  • Shopping interests (e.g., type of car or electronics they typically buy)
  • Your audience broken up into “passers-by”, “regulars” or “fanatics”
  • Political interests
  • The ability to group your audience into segments to get super-detailed info about your visitors

7. Spy on your competitors to see who THEY’RE serving

Sometimes it’s helpful to supplement all the information you’ve gleaned above with info about your competitors’ customers or clients.

Obviously, you can’t access your competitors’ analytics, or send their customers surveys. So, how can you find out exactly who their target market is?

I would start by setting up alerts for mentions of their names on social media (see #4 above). This will give you a very general idea of who is talking about them online.

Next, I would look at their social media properties and website to see who THEY think their audience is. One of the best ways to do this is to look at their free lead magnets, and deduce who they’re trying to attract (e.g., a free cookbook for “busy moms” will give you a pretty good idea of their target audience!).

Finally, if you want to be REALLY sneaky, use an inexpensive tool like Owletter to track and manage all of your competitors’ email newsletters. This tool lets you sign up and receive their emails, without them even knowing you’re subscribed! Owletter will also store all those newsletters in one place, and give you access to competitor analytics.

This is great…but what do I DO with this information?

This may be the question you’re asking right now. You’ve managed to get all this amazing information about who you’re serving and why you’re serving them.

But unless you use this info in strategic ways, you’ll never actually attract this target audience to your website, products or services.

Here are a few ways to use what you’ve learned to attract customers and visitors who actually need what you’re offering.

1. Create buyer personas

A buyer persona is simply a fictitious profile of your ideal customer or client. Using all the information you’ve gleaned above, you can create this profile and use it to inform all your marketing activities.

Some of the info you’ll use to create your personas includes basic demographics (age, gender, marital status, etc.), motivations, interests and hobbies, shopping habits, values and goals.

Also be sure to answer the question: “What is the main problem he or she is trying to solve?”. This will be the foundation of every product or piece of content you create.

2. Create content that helps solve their biggest problems

You’ve already identified the key issues your target audience is struggling with. One of the most valuable ways you can use this info is to create content that addresses those issues.

For instance, if you know that your ideal customer is a 30-something mom of two kids with a college degree who loves to look for bargains online, you can tailor your products, services or content to what she likely wants to read or buy (e.g., a free guide to the best places to find Black Friday deals).

Not only will this ensure you’re actually serving your current audience, it will mean your content is far more likely to attract the right audience in the future as well.

3. Create and design products and services your ideal customer will love

Use what you’ve learned to create new products, tweak existing ones, or to add new services to your portfolio.

For example, if you’re a fitness coach and have found through your research that your ideal customer struggles with meal planning, you can tailor your offerings to this need.

Some ideas for how to do this: a customized meal planning service, an eBook with healthy recipes, a downloadable guide to planning and cooking en entire month of meals in one afternoon, etc.

4. Market your stuff using what you’ve learned

Your research should have revealed where your target audience hangs out online, and what types of marketing content they prefer. This will help you streamline your marketing efforts, giving you the best chance of reaching your target market.

For instance, if you know your ideal customer is mainly on Facebook, you can focus more of your efforts there.

Or, if you’ve discovered their preference is for video over text or image, you can create video ads rather than wasting all your time on text ads.

Final thoughts

When you try to serve everyone, you end up serving no one.

Don’t let this happen to you!

There is a unique group of people out there who desperately need what YOU have to offer. Make sure you know where they are, what they need, and what you can do to attract and help them.

There is a unique group of people out there who desperately need what YOU have to offer. Make sure you know where they are, what they need, and what you can do to attract and help them.Click To Tweet

THIS is the key to creating a sustainable and profitable business you can feel good about!

I would love to hear your thoughts: Have you defined your target audience? Do you know how to reach them? Share in the comments below!



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Kim Garst
6 years ago

Zoho sounds interesting! I’ll have to check that one out! Thanks for adding to the conversation, Stacy!

Kim Garst
6 years ago

Even though you think you are attracting people randomly, you are actually attracting them by the content you are sharing. This is why understanding your ideal customer is sooo important. If you are attracting a community that is loving what you are sharing, you will need to do more of that obviously 😉

Anna Sylvester
Anna Sylvester
Reply to  Kim Garst
5 years ago

Thank you so much.

5 years ago

thanks for this post.i liked it

Pro Will
Pro Will
3 years ago

Thanks for sharing these 7 ways.

3 years ago

great post! very helpful!

Mechanical Design
Mechanical Design
3 years ago

Nice, easy-to-follow guide, thanks.

Kim's Team
Kim's Team
Reply to  Mechanical Design
3 years ago

You’re welcome!

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