Whether your business has been in operation for years or your startup is in its infancy, it's essential to familiarize yourself with your ideal customer. Knowing who your ideal customer is will take your company to the next level.

It's easy to believe that you're already aware of your ideal customer since you know your product or service. However, the problem most businesses run into is that they assume that their customer is everyone. This line of thinking hinders business progress and doesn't allow your marketing team to target those most likely to purchase from you.

But you have been in business since before sliced bread; why would you want to change it up now? While a good question, sliced bread has been around since 1928, and customer profiles have vastly changed in that time. The basics marketing principles remain the same, so reinventing the wheel isn't necessary. Just reimagine your customer and get to know their buyer persona.

Why You Need To Identify Your Ideal Customer

Just like you spent a significant amount of time deciding the benefits of your product, it is equally important to discover your consumer's Ideal Customer Profile (ICP). Without an ICP, you are shooting yourself in the foot and cannot perform several crucial marketing tasks.

You limit your ability to speak to your customer without first knowing who your ideal customer is. When connecting with your customer, you'll communicate differently when it's B2C than you would B2B. If it's B2C, you will use different jargon with a 17-year-old female into cosmetics than you would a 38-year-old male looking to invest in an IRA.

Developing an ICP will also give you a clear idea of the customer's desires. How can you communicate the benefits of your product without first knowing what your customer wants? Knowing what your customer wants will allow you to niche down and provide them with targeted information of the product's benefits. 

Another crucial element that comes from identifying who your ideal client is for your business or startup is knowing where to reach them. It's impractical to target a male audience, ages 13-17, looking for hair products with door hangers the same way you would seniors aged 65+ with information on their social security. Knowing where the customer is will help you better reach them.

Having an ICP will also directly affect your bottom line. Your company is already spending money on ads, and if you don't know where to direct your resources, you might as well be throwing away money. So it's in your companies interest to hone in on where money should be spent by honing in on your ideal customer.

Lastly, identifying your ideal customer will allow the entire conversation surrounding your marketing strategy to change. When it is B2C, you'll focus on age, gender, race/ethnicity, location, and B2B will focus on the client's revenue, the number of employees, and industry location. If you treat B2B and B2C the same, you can't utilize your marketing team to their fullest potential.

How to identify your ideal customer

So now that you're convinced that it's in your company or startup's best interest to figure out who your ideal customer is and develop an ICP, how do you go about identifying them? You know you've found your ideal customer when they fit these five parameters. They happily pay for what you offer, appreciate what you do for them, are easy to communicate with, keep coming back, and they recommend you to others.

A smart warm-up to discovering who your ideal customer is would be to sit down and create an ad looking for your ideal customer. You essentially make the customer the product you're looking for and are forced to view your company from their shoes. By buying the customer instead of selling your product, you develop your first sense of who will buy from you.

After this warm-up, take a close look at your product. You know what it does, how it does it, how long it can do whatever it does, and its intended purpose, but are you aware of the value it adds to a customer's life? 

An engineer has made his fortune creating useless products. His goal is to find something that doesn't need any additions and add something to it. One of his inventions was a handle holder to hold the handle of a coffee cup. This product is designed to keep the consumer from having to hold the handle of the coffee cup. Its intended use was apparent, but the product added zero value to the customer's life.

Looking at your product from a value standpoint will help you enter your customer's shoes and understand their needs. With this information, you'll be able to identify your ideal customer and target them more effectively.

While looking at your company from your customer's eyes, you can also begin to reimagine your company or startup's goal. Of course, ultimately, your goal is to make money, but if you take the time to understand your customer's perspective, your goals may change.

This doesn't mean you don't want to make money—quite the contrary. Your companies profits begin to increase when your goals align with the wants and needs of the customer. Understanding the value the customer seeks to add to their life from your product will generate more value for your business in the long run.

When your goals are clearly defined, you start to understand why your customer chooses you over your competitors. Your customer has multiple businesses to choose from, and you want to know why they would choose you. You know your product is excellent but so are your competitors. What value do you offer?

This question is not always easy to answer. Location, prices, quality, customer service, and many other reasons dictate a customer's choice. Obtaining a firm grasp on what sets your company apart for the customer gives your company or startup a step up compared to your competitors.

It is easier to identify your ideal customer if you are an established business because you will already have data on who currently buys from you. By taking that data and finding connections between the customers and eliminating outliers, you will clearly see who your customers already are.

Knowing this information will give you all the data points to help you reach your customers in a more targeted capacity. Increasing your marketing strategy to more effectively reach your customer will save money and draw in more customers that you know will be interested in the product or service you offer.

Similar to understanding the value that your product adds to your customer's life, looking at your product from the customer's perspective will give you a greater understanding of the purpose of the product. Identifying the customer's desire for the product will help you understand your customer's wants.

If you're selling a cell phone, its base purpose is communication. The additional elements offered lead the customer to purchase from you and continue to return for the newest model. When it comes to the iPhone or Samsung, the customer has vastly different desires. The iPhone user is looking for a great camera, ease of use, and clout, while the Samsung user desires versatility, customization, and a more robust device. Knowing what the user wants allows you to target them more effectively.

Another part of an ICP is knowing where your customer is located. For example, customers in the Midwest will have a vastly different ICP than customers in the metropolitan area of Los Angeles. Knowing their location will give you a greater understanding of their desires.

This concept is not limited to geographical location. It is expanded to where they spend their time. For example, are your customers frequently at the mall, grocery store, park, or dining in restaurants? Knowing this information helps you better learn where to deliver ads for your company.

Thinking outside the box, or rather inside the internet, you will also find that many of your customers reside primarily online. The average person now spends over 2 hours and 32 minutes every single day on social media. Knowing this information will help you reach your customers where they are instead of relying on them coming to you. Additionally, with over 50% of teens having their only friends online, there is a greater chance that social media advertising will start to take greater precedence over other forms of advertising.

The Bottom Line

With the bottom line being the bottom line, knowing who your ideal customer is will take your business or startup to the next level.

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