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4 Steps to Identify Your Ideal Customer - plus the trick to making them feel real

This blog post has audio! Click play below to listen.

If you're anything like me, you would rather work smarter than harder. Time is precious when you're a business owner, and one amazing way to streamline all your efforts is to identify exactly who your ideal customer is and speak directly to them with everything you do.

Your business is not a one-size-fits-all solution. There will be many people who absolutely love what you do, but on the flip side there will also be many people who don't quite see the point or the value in what you offer. That's ok. Just like in your personal life, you can't please everyone. It's not healthy to try and you shouldn't feel like you need to.

What is an ideal customer?

Your ideal customer is someone who benefits the most from the product or service you offer. You fulfil their exact need, or solve the exact problem they have.

It should also be the person that brings you the most value too. Maybe they give you an amazing review or testimonial, or they're a repeat customer, or they refer their friends to you, or all of the above. They LOVE your business.

They should be someone you enjoy working with, or the person you have in mind when creating or designing your products.

Although there should be a group of people that are your ideal customers, you do need to think of them as being one person. This will help you when crafting copy and making business decisions. Don't think about a group of people, talk and act like you're doing everything for one person.

If you have a business that could sell to more than one type of person you might want to have more than one customer profile, but you should always be conscious of which customer you're speaking to when, for example, you're writing a social media caption. Usually there will be some similar factors between your different customer profiles.

Having your ideal customer in mind with everything you do is important because people are more likely to buy from you if they feel a connection to you/your business. When someone feels like you understand them, you can solve their exact problem, and everything you do resonates with them, they'll be hooked. They'll choose you over someone else who provides a similar product or service.

How to identify your ideal customer

Step One

Develop an understanding of your business from the customer's perspective.

Be aware of the problem you solve or the need you fulfil; even a non-practical need like the need for 'a home full of beautiful objects' is valid here.

Think outside the box, what are the reasons someone would buy your product, what are the intangible things you're selling (for example as a brand designer I make your business look more professional so you can banish that imposter syndrome!).

You may well be able to think of more than one thing here and that's great, but be aware of the most valuable reason.

It's not enough to know who you want to benefit most, but who is already finding value in the thing that you offer? Can you send a survey out to previous and current customers? Ask the question on social media or send a DM asking what they found most valuable about working with you.

Review and analyse any past emails, testimonials, or reviews from previous customers. What can you learn from what people have already told you?

What things went brilliantly and what really didn't go so well? Were the things that didn't go well due to a misunderstanding or not seeing eye to eye with the way you work? If so you'll likely need to fine tune your messaging to make sure your process is understood and you're only attracting those that are on-board with your ethos.

Step Two

Check in with your goals.

The next step is to be selfish and think about yourself; what do you want to achieve? For example if you're happy with where you're currently at with your business then retention of your current customers and attracting more of the same is what you'll want to do.

However, if you're reading this I'm guessing you want your business to grow (make more money) and/or you want to do more of the work that you love.

If you would like to work the same amount of hours but make more money from offering your service, maybe you need to increase your pricing and target a customer than can better afford that price point. Making your branding look more high-end and professional will help massively with this particular goal.

If you would like to simply do more of the work you love, define what that work is and determine who would want it.

For service based businesses, what past projects were enjoyable and what type of person was that client. Has there been more than one client that you loved working with? If you have not yet worked with a dream client, just imagine what your dream project would look like. This person would trust in your skills, you would feel a sense of connection to them, it would feel relatively easy and enjoyable to work with them.

For product bases businesses, can you identity previous customers that bought a larger volume of items, or that have bought more than once? Attracting more of these same people will help you grow.

Step Three

Connect the dots

What do those customers you have already enjoyed working with, or that are already fans of your business have in common?

What are they like demographically (age, income, marital status, etc) and in terms of their lifestyles and personality (values, beliefs, hobbies, etc)? Take all of those commonalities into consideration to create the profile of ONE INDIVIDUAL who represents your ideal customer.

Again, if you haven't yet had many clients/customers you will need to use your imagination. Businesses that work one on one with clients think about who you will enjoy working with and make up their demographics and lifestyle details. Product based businesses, think about what type of person will love your product and make up their demographics and lifestyle details.

Step Four

Write your ideal customer's story

Now it's time to go one step further and bring this person to life.

When you write a back story for your ideal customer they become more real and tangible, you will feel like you know them! When you're trying to make decisions for your business, you can think "What would my ideal customer think of this" and it really should make things easier for you.

Give them a name and think about what they look like. Write a few paragraphs with as much detail as you can about them in full sentences. Is there something that happened to them during their life that makes them more likely to buy from you? How can you weave your brand story in with your customers story. Really use your imagination.

Think about how they dress and where else they shop. Jump on Pinterest or look in magazines and find a picture of them to keep with your profile and story. Of course this person isn't actually real, but by building a story around them and thinking about how their story weaves into your own you will find that there are many people that resonate and identify with it.

The point is that your customer profile should be a north star to guide you, you will be able to think of your customer with everything you do.

Every blog post you write, every social media caption, and every website page. Every time you do anything related to your business think about the customer you have defined and brought to life and identify how they would feel about what you're doing.

I hope this blog post has helped you to build out a clear profile and story for your ideal customer. Make sure you keep your notes and pictures to hand whenever you're writing content for your business. Imagine you are talking to this person when you write and your words will feel much more genuine as though you're talking to a friend.

If you're struggling with any part of this leave me a comment below or send me an email at meg@lemonandbirch.com, I would love to try and help you more.

If you're looking to brand or rebrand your business I'd love to hear from you! Please get in touch here.

If you're not quite ready to dive into a professional brand design you can download my FREE branding guide 'The Blossoming brand Blueprint' here.

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Photography by Sophie Carefull 

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