It seems old and boring to talk about “target market” or finding our “audience”. Most of us roll our eyes and don’t want to hear about knowing your customer one more time. Sometimes we can hear an idea or subject matter so often that we don’t even listen anymore. We brush it off and think, yea, yea…I got it. But in reality, maybe we don’t and we might be missing something really important.
At the very least, it’s good to regularly revisit something so crucial to our business.
In my experience, I find that 90% of small and micro businesses think they know who their ideal customer is, but when I ask them to tell me who they are, I hear things like “men”, “women”, “Millenials”. Or, even more common, I hear, “Everyone is my customer”. This reveals that many of us are not clear on who our Ideal Representative Customer is. (And, no, everyone is not your customer.)
THE MOST IMPORTANT QUESTION
My first corporate job out of college was with a large greeting card company. (Seriously, the best job ever!). I had a position in the marketing department working with the artists, writers, and other creatives to plan and design a greeting card for every situation you could possibly imagine. As a result, I received incredible experience learning how critical it was to be able to answer the question: who are you talking to?
When it was time to create a new card, I had a dedicated room that displayed every card we had for the particular line of cards I was working on at the time. After removing low-sellers I would study to see where there were gaps in communication. Once I determined what cards I would need, the real work began.
Let’s say I needed a birthday card for a son. I can’t send a request to the art department or the writers asking for a card for a son. They wouldn’t know who to talk to. So, to give them a clear idea of who the reader of that card would be, I’d write a specific bio for each card.
- I gave the sender and receiver a name
- Identified their age
- Listed habits and hobbies
- Created a family status, job, income level
- And most importantly, clarified what the relationship was like between the sender and receiver.
This gave the team a CLEAR image of who the card was from AND who it was for.
AIM FOR THE BULLSEYE
The process of determining what type of cards we needed was a lot like playing the game of CLUE®. Narrowing down scenarios until I could declare: Mrs. Peacock, in the study, with the rope!
We must narrow down who we’re talking to as much as possible. As a result, our message develops clarity and impact.
KEY POINT: As we created specific profiles for each greeting card, it was similar to aiming at a bullseye on a target. We knew there would be plenty of other people outside of our core niche that would still relate to the card, but our direction had a purpose and though it was designed for one person in mind, the message we created automatically drew in other people outside of our ideal target audience.
This relates to all businesses. From big corporations to microbusiness, it is critical to create a core customer. I call it an IDEAL REPRESENTATIVE CUSTOMER (IRC) because it identifies that dream client we all have, yet the message they need to hear still relates to a larger group of people.
When you imagine a dream customer or client, you’ll want to give them a name and create a detailed profile. Draw a picture or find a stock image of what that person might look like if you have to and have fun imagining what kind of life this person has! Then write a short paragraph about your new IRC.
EXAMPLE PROFILE OF AN IDEAL REPRESENTATIVE CUSTOMER:
Karrie is a 28-year-old social media manager in a large city. She’s single, loves to travel, blog, kayak, and explore all the latest coffee shops and local cafes in her town. Karrie’s hobby is pottery. She’s in a professional environment but wants to express her creative, outgoing personality in how she dresses at work while keeping it professional. She is brand loyal and willing to spend extra money to find just the right outfit. She follows many trendy brands on social media but also loves to shop local boutiques. Since she is active socially, her clothes are very important and prefers higher-end brands to look her best. She’s well-educated and spends her money on traveling, clothes, and going out with friends. Her home is small and she drives a used car. Her family does not live nearby so her work associates and friends are like a second-family. Since she travels extensively, she only has one cat, but really loves dogs and often dog-sits for friends and volunteers at the local shelter…. (You get the idea. Obviously, you will want to tailor the profile to fit within your industry).
This person you create is your bullseye to aim for in everything you do within your business. Direct everything you say, create, and even how you build the culture in your business around your Ideal Representative Customer (IRC).
Do you want to attract other people as well? Sure! But if you stay focused on the target, the others will follow.
INCLUDE YOUR CORE CUSTOMER IN YOUR DECISION-MAKING
Talk about (and to!) your Ideal Representative Customer by name when you are making business decisions. Would Karrie enjoy this? Does this product/service meet her needs? Hey, Karrie, what do you think about this? (it’s a good excuse to talk to ourselves!) Attributing that type of a personal touch/discussion to your direction and decision making will make each step easier for you.
As you grow and mature in your microbusiness, your core customer might change. That’s OK! But keep them well-defined and only change who they are if it is really necessary. Too many changes result in confusion in the business identity. Remember, the core customer IS the identity of the business.
So…who are YOU talking to?