How to Identify Your Ideal Customer


Eric Donti

Feb 4, 2023


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Ask most business owners what they want for their businesses, and you’ll usually get a variation of more profit. Yet, what most business owners are actually looking for is how to increase retail sales for new and existing customers. There are several paths to that end, but one of the more effective paths is by identifying your ideal customer. That’s the hypothetical customer that is most likely to buy from you. If you’re struggling to create a good customer profile, read on for some essential tips on how to identify your ideal customer.

Know Your Product

Woman selling a shirt

Whether selling goods off a shelf or providing services, you’re offering a product to customers. Before you can identify your ideal customer, you need a deep knowledge of your product. That knowledge isn’t the kind of knowledge most business owners possess of units sold or profit per customer. While internally useful, that information doesn’t tell you anything about your customers.

Knowing your product means understanding how that product or service fits into someone else’s life or business. Just as importantly, it means understanding when and why a product or service is a bad fit for a person or company. It would help if you put yourself into a customer’s shoes and then look at your product. If you do that, you’ll have a far easier time figuring out who is and isn’t an ideal customer.

Consider Your Current Customer Base

While empathetic consideration of the customer's position will prove helpful, it’s just one step. If you like your information a bit more quantitative and a bit less qualitative, take a look at your existing customer base. It won’t take much effort to separate out your “good” and “bad” customers.

Your good customers are the ones who lodge minimal complaints, pay on time, and even send referrals your way. These are the customers who benefit from your product. A quick comparison of good customers with bad customers that do nothing but complain will probably show you some common features of both. Your ideal customers will likely share a lot of traits with your current good customers.

Customer Characteristics

With some basic data and a bit of empathetic insight in hand, you can start developing a list of basic customer characteristics. This also applies to business characteristics if you operate primarily in a B2B capacity. These are the basic demographic and psychographic characteristics of your ideal customers, such as:

  1. Age
  2. Gender
  3. Income
  4. Ethnicity
  5. Hobbies
  6. Political attitudes
  7. Location

Assembling this information helps you winnow out the high-probability leads from the low-probability leads. It also enables you to shape things like ads and marketing copy. How you present your product for a high school-educated short-order cook will look very different from how you present your product for a college-educated stockbroker.

Understand Your Customers’ Goals

Target Goal

You need a good working knowledge of your customers’ goals when they approach your product. While their goals won’t be identical, there will usually be some common ground. In essence, they want a fix, it to be easy, and they’d usually prefer that it not cost more than necessary. That doesn’t always mean cheap, but it does mean that your product better live up to the price tag.

You can get some of this information through careful questions and ongoing interactions, but you will need to fill in some blanks yourself. Once you know your customers’ goals, you’ll know if your product is the right fit. The more times you can say that it’s the right fit will give you a better understanding of how to identify your ideal customer.

Understand Your Customers’ Pain Points

Part of understanding your customers’ goals is first to understand their pain points. An easy way to think of it is this. Something broken in a person’s life or business is causing them problems. What is that broken thing? What are those problems?

Your product should be the final answer to fixing that broken thing and solving those problems. If you need to tie yourself in knots to convince someone that your product will eliminate their pain points, you either need entirely new material, or you’re dealing with a non-ideal customer.

Dig Into the Data

People looking at data

Of course, all of the above applies to grasping the nature and characteristics of your ideal customers. It doesn’t tell you much about finding more once you have that ideal customer profile pinned down hard. Once you have it, though, it’s time to dig into your data.

Where do your current customers come from? How many of them fall into either the good or ideal customer category? Look for the channels that funnel the best or ideal customers to your business. If possible, pin down what content, ad, or marketing copy converted them into a lead. Then, double down on that channel, that kind of content, and that approach to ad or marketing copy. It should boost your acquisition of ideal clients.

Social Listening

If you want to find customers beyond your current communication channels, social listening tools can help you a lot. These tools identify where people discuss problems closely related to your product, service, or industry. It can help you identify new potential channels for finding ideal customers, such as new social media platforms.

How to Identify Your Ideal Customer

The process of how to identify your ideal customer is complex. It requires a bit of empathy and consideration on your part. For example, you must put yourself into your customer’s shoes to understand their goals and pain points and how your product addresses them. It also calls for digging into your data to find out where your best customers come from and what prompted them to come to you in the first place.

If you need help bringing in ideal customers, contact E-Marketing Associates to help refine your sales and marketing efforts.

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