So, you have a product or a service and now you want to sell it. You put your business management hats on and come up with elaborate sales and marketing strategies. You throw around phrases like social media, SEO, inbound and outbound marketing, and you feel like you are getting somewhere. Then someone says the golden word, viral, and suddenly it all falls into place!
Well, you can try all the strategies you want but if you don’t know what your target market is then you’re wasting your time, energy and money. Identifying and understanding your ideal customer allows you to target your marketing efforts at the people who are actually interested in your business, resulting in a higher return on your marketing investment.
Here are 3 steps to finding your ideal customer:
1. Create a ‘Why Us’ Value Proposition
Your value proposition is what sets you apart from your competitors. Why do you need a value proposition? Well, you do have competitors and yes, they already have customers. So you need to give your customers a compelling reason to choose your services over the others in the market.
Make your value proposition short and easy to understand so that when people read it they instantly get it. It should effectively communicate what services you provide, who these services are for, and why customers buy from you. For example, Stripe has a clean and simple value proposition, free of jargon. The moment you read it you know that it’s a payment system, it’s for developers, and it’s easy and online.
Another great value proposition is Path.com. On the landing page of their site you see the words - Private messaging and sharing with friends and family. Of course, Path is yet another social network but they have a unique value proposition that makes people use them over Facebook and Twitter, and that’s privacy. When you share something on Twitter anyone in the world can see it, and when you share on Facebook any of your thousand friends and acquaintances can see it, but if you want privacy use Path where only your closest friends can see it.
2. Thoroughly Define Your Demographics
No, you can’t target the whole world. Google is already doing that.
Now you need to define the type of people you are targeting. This will give you a better idea of who is going to buy from you. Your target group is a subset of a larger market and will allow you to focus your marketing strategies.
Again, Path.com has a clear demographic, young adults who want to keep in touch with close friends and family privately. The app is clearly not for older people, nor is it for children. It is for the age group between 18 and 34, young men and women who have gathered a close circle of friends and who want to constantly stay in touch with each other regardless of where they are in the world.
A great way to define your demographics is to analyze your competitors. Alexa.com and Quantcast.com provide in-depth traffic statistics and web analytics to any website. You can also look at online forums and competitor reviews to see exactly what customers are saying. Interviews and surveys allow you to collect psychographic information like personality type and preferences.
With all this data you can build a comprehensive customer profile. You should be able to tell what their likes and dislikes are, what sites they visit, how much time they spend on social networks and what their hobbies are. Try putting yourself in their shoes and understanding them.
3. Address Their Pain Points!
Once you start relating to your customers you can dig deeper and find out their needs and problems. You want your product or service to solve their pain points. This is why people buy from you and what makes you unique.
Maybe the service they currently use is getting too expensive for them, or the learning curve is too steep. You can then price your service so that it’s more affordable, or design it so that it’s easier to use.
Freshbooks, for example, conquered the invoicing market in creating ‘“Painless Billing” (With their recent slogan change to “Cloud Accounting”). “Most software companies try to launch with at least a bare-bones framework for accounts payable and receivable, payroll, etc. and then flesh out features internally,” says Kathy Yakal for PCMag. “FreshBooks started with invoicing and has been building itself out ever since.”
Now that you have your ideal customer. You know what they are like and what problems they face. You can direct your marketing strategies towards them. Target the social media sites that your customers follow and blog about the things they care about. You might even have something go viral because you know exactly what they like to share. Hint: it’s probably Gangnam Style.
Think you can do better than the examples in this article? Go ahead, blow us away with your value proposition, or stories about pain points you solved!