4 Principles for Identifying Your Ideal Customer
Perhaps the most common mistake in marketing is thinking that the objective is to describe your product. But that’s wrong. The objective is to describe the solution to the problem your ideal customer is having. And how do you know what the solution is? By understanding the problem. And how do you understand the problem? By understanding your customer, really getting to know your ideal customer, who they are, what their hopes and dreams are, and what makes their lives easy and what makes them more difficult.
So how do you identify your ideal customer? What goes into defining who will want to buy your product or services and how do you determine not only who will want to buy them but which types of customers are the best suited to buying your offerings? These four principles below will help you identify your ideal customer.
1. Provide real-time support
Have you ever thought about how your customers feel about spending time waiting on hold in a phone queue?
Does it really have any worth to say, “Your call is important to us”? An American Express survey found that the maximum amount of time customers are willing to wait is 13 minutes. Your customer expectations align with reality when your business adopts new technology to provide real-time support to your customers. That puts customer experience on pace to exceed price and product as the number-one differentiator for companies.
Great customer experience can be achieved by using live-chat software and engagement tools that boost customer satisfaction rates. Live chat has been found to be preferred over other communication channels, such as phone and email — the real-time support it delivers to customers makes it popular. Ecoconsultancy reports that 79% of customers prefer live chat because of the immediacy it offers compared to other channels. Consumers just want answers as quickly as possible and are often too busy, or even too lazy, to navigate your website.
Live chat connects you with your customers instantly and lets you address their issues in real time. It triggers proactive chat messages to guide customers in their buying journey and improve their experience with your business.
2. Analyze customer feedback
“A satisfied customer is the best business strategy of all.”
Customer feedback is the core of any business and one of the main factors in growth. It is the one thing that gives a business a clearer view of how it is doing. Collecting feedback requires asking customers to share their opinions about the product, service or overall experience with your business. The right moment to ask for feedback is right after a customer service conversation. You are already in a conversation with the customer, so it feels natural to ask for feedback.
CHD operates in the foodservice industry. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the landscape of this industry totally changed, and so too did customer interests and demands. It was necessary to conduct a survey asking about the inconveniences brought about by the disruption of the pandemic. Surprised by the results, we had to change our direction. What really counted was that our customers appreciated that we took their pain and hardship into consideration.
You think you know your customer because you speak with them and their colleagues regularly, but do you truly understand their needs? During these turbulent times, CHD made an effort to understand the main problems our customers were experiencing — without trying to sell them our products. That resonated with them.
To do this, we called or emailed our five top accounts and asked, “What will be the main pain your company will see after the COVID?” We did this without linking it to a company offer. Based on the feedback, we created a survey that incorporated their responses to gauge the impact on the rest of our customers. As a result, we discovered we had to go back to our foundations. Instead of selling an advanced lead-scoring model, we had to return to the basics: just data.
3. Personalize your communications
Today’s customers expect business interactions to be customized to their needs and preferences. Because they get frustrated when they receive information that doesn’t resonate, especially when it comes from trusted advisors.
With the right technology to collect customer data and turn it into actionable insights, you can personalize each customer interaction. And provide unique messaging for each of your clients regardless of their preference in channels.
Start with the basics: Make a list of your top 10 customers and your prospects to create dedicated emails to send to those groups. That way, you avoid sending products or services to customers who are already buying your products or services.
If you know that 20% of your top customers drive 80% of your revenue, it’s good business to send them something special. At Unibake, we took the time to do the little things that can set a company apart in a crowded industry; efforts such as sending customers “hygge” socks during the holidays (a tradition in Belgium) or a thank you postcard can achieve miracles. It shows customers they are genuinely appreciated. An old-fashioned gesture of gratitude never goes out of style.
4. Solve one problem for one customer
People don’t buy products; they buy solutions to problems. Startups can’t hope to solve all the problems for a whole market — and they shouldn’t want to. For a startup, the opportunity to narrowly focus on one specific problem and build the perfect solution to that problem is an advantage that must be exploited.
Startups have the ability to zero in on one problem for a very specific, small, and defined audience. Don’t try to “boil the ocean” right out of the gate with a mass-market product (unless, of course, you think competing with massive companies on a level playing field is a good strategy).
- Facebook started by focusing on one dorm at Harvard.
- Mailchimp was created to design emails for the clients of one design consultancy.
- Shopify started as a shopping cart solution for a snowboarding website.
- Groupon was created for one office building in Chicago.
If you’re aiming small, your laser-focused launch is only going to require one rocket — but that rocket has to showcase one awesome attribute. Trying for more than one product or service will drain important resources and will distract from the necessary process of perfecting your number-one offering. Such a lack of focus is also a tell-tale warning sign for investors.
Perfecting your one killer rocket means ensuring it has something that lifts it far above your competition, so you’d be smart to focus on giving one product something special. In the beginning, you are better off doing one thing really well and focusing on that one thing; later, you’ll be able to use customer feedback to add new features and broaden your market reach.
Case in point: Most people think that consumers want choice. The reality is consumers don’t want choice; they want freedom from choice. If you can solve one problem proficiently for a customer with one simple feature, those consumers telling all their friends is the only marketing you’ll need.
One thing I learned over the years is that you not only have to sell one thing at the same time; you have to sell a solution rather than a product. CHD, the global foodservice database provider, doesn’t sell data. We sell the solution that companies can increase their market share. In addition, by accessing the database, they have access to millions of new leads they can start targeting, so their market share will increase as well.
Using these four principles above, you will be well on your way to identifying your ideal customer. The concepts of being responsive to your customers’ inquiries, analyzing the feedback they give you, customizing your interactions to make them feel appreciated, and solving the customer’s real problem will bring you a long way towards a successful, scalable marketing plan.
Once you’ve identified your ideal customer, your next step is to build a marketing funnel that orbits around your needs as a business (i.e., a prospect fills out a form on your website, your marketing team immediately schedules a demo, and the prospect becomes a customer), study your buyer’s behavior. Would your demos be more effective if you had a discovery call first? Is a 90-day sales cycle more realistic for your buyer than 30 days? Consider these things as you’re building your funnel.
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