Attract the Ideal Customer

I presented the “7 Steps to Successful Small Business Marketing” at a class full of entrepreneurs at Clackamas Community College last week. It was a fun group and we had a great time. I had intended speaking for an hour or so plus questions but we eventually wrapped up after 2 and a half hours. It was great to have such strong engagement with the attendees. I love groups where there is loads of discussion.

At the end of the class I distributed an evaluation form with one of the questions being “Tell me something you learned”. The most common answer was that attendees wanted to do a better job of identifying their ideal customer.

The ideal customer is a critical concept to successful small business marketing. The big idea is that we want to primarily attract only those customers that we love. For example, these might be customers who appreciate what we do, are easy to work with, refer us frequently and pay on time. Lets face it, all of us have had customers that have dragged us down. Perhaps they were unpleasant or took up way too much time. So how do we identify these ideal customers and attract more of them?

Step one is to take your list of clients and divide them into two groups — what I call my naughty and nice list. Most small business owners can do this pretty easily. At least the extremes will be pretty easy. The ones in the middle might be more difficult.

Step two is to look for areas of similarity. What do the top “nice” people have in common? How would you know one if they came up and kissed you? Or more practically how would you describe them to someone else? We may be looking here for insight into: their specific needs, demographics, geographics, sociographics, etc.

Step three is to interview a sampling of the ones we want to attract more of. We want to be like the flower attracting the honey bee. We don’t want the flies and the wasps so what attracted the honey bees to us in the first place? We talk to our ideal customer and find out why they picked us, why they didn’t pick out competitor and why they keep coming back to us. What is important to them and what problems do we solve for them.

With this information we can create our messaging to appeal to the ideal customer. We will use this messaging on our website and in our promotional materials. If we do it right our marketing tools will be more effective and bring us better and more profitable customers.


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