“Understanding who isn’t your ideal customer sometimes helps you better clarify who is” – Amber Hurdle
One of the main components of an online marketing strategy is the introduction of an ideal customer avatar. By effectively understanding who makes your ideal customer you can to build your business model. This includes communication, product, services, sales and support that focus on attracting and serving this narrowly defined customer group.
When working with businesses that have an established customer base we can generally identify their ideal customer by finding the common characteristics found in their most profitable clients that also refer them to others.
Today, however, we wish to address the needs of the start-up or business with hardly any customer experience. Finding and serving an ideal customer is equally important for a business just getting started. As establishing a focus on discovering a narrowly defined ideal customer from the very beginning will save months of wandering in the dark trying to be all things to all people.
The 5 Steps to putting you on the road to discovering your ideal customer…
1) Focus on the Smallest Market Possible
This might feel counterintuitive to those that are just starting a company. Nevertheless, you have to discover a group of customers that think what you have to give is special. If you are just starting out you might have very little to provide. Perhaps access to hardly any resources with which to make sufficient noise in market for generic solutions.
Your key is to discover a very slim group, with very specific demographics or an extremely specific problem or need. Then create raving enthusiasts out of that group. You can always grow your reach once you gain traction. You can also become a huge player in this smaller market as you increase.
2) Create a Initial Value Hypothesis
In the step above we mentioned the idea of finding a narrow group that finds what you have to offer special. Of course, this implies that you do indeed have something to offer that is special.
You must produce a “why us” value proposition and use that as you hypothesis for why us. If this is beginning to sound similar to science that’s since it is. You need to always stay static in ensure that you refine mode to be able to move onward.
Many people get swept up in looking to perform their business plan when the actual fact of the problem is the marketplace doesn’t value your business plan. The thing that matters is exactly what you find and apply out there in the laboratory away from office.
3) Get Reality in Discovery with Test Sessions
Established, flourishing businesses be capable of learn a good deal every day from customer interaction. Since start-ups don’t have any customer interaction they have to create ways to test their theories initially and on the fly.
The main element to both making and affirming your first assumptions is to set-up what we call Discovery Test Sessions with prospects that may easily match your first smallest market group. They are essentially staged one-on-one meetings.
This can be a little tricky since you have no relationship with the said prospect. We often find that there are industry or trade groups that may contain your initial target market. So by joining these you may have an easier time gaining access to this group
Another possible option is to provide free trial products or beta test relationships to those inclined to offer you agreed upon feedback.
The crucial thing is to begin talking to potential customers about:
- What they Want
- What they Think
- What Works
- What Doesn’t
- What they don’t Have now.
This is one way you progress your business, your features as well as your assumptions predicated on portion a narrowly described target.
4) Draw a Ideal Customer Avatar
Once you’ve trotted out your hypothesis and tested it with your narrow group, you’ve got to go to work on discovering and defining everything you can about your ideal target market.
Some of this information will be commonly understood, such as demographics. However much of it will be discovered in your test sessions and though some additional research in more behavioral oriented places such as social media.
This is a great time to start your CRM thinking by building custom profiles. These profiles will include much richer information than most people capture.
5) Add Strategy Model Components
The final step is to apply this new ideal customer approach to other elements of your strategy.
When you discover your initial ideal customer it should impact the thinking about your basic business model and overall business strategy. All great business models are customer focused. Now that you have a picture of this customer it’s time to consider how this alters the other aspects of your business.
Consider now, how this Discovery might Impact:
- Your Product Offers,
- Your Income Streams
- Distribution Channels
- Even Pricing.
Consider how you can reach this market, who you can partner with and what resources you either have or need to have in order to make an impact in this market.
In our experience you’re never finished with this exercise. As your business evolves, as you learn and expand, this model will develop as well. However the continual procedure for discovery is as important as what you find.
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Nicky and Dave