“Who is your target customer?” seems like an easy question, but it’s actually a big, hard, and sometimes unpleasant question. Most people I ask tilt their head at me like, “Don’t you know? Anybody with money… duh!”
So let’s talk instead about who you really want to be working with and how you want your future-business to be.
If you’ve ever described your target customer as any of these things:
— Local businesses
— Online businesses
— Small business owners
— Anybody who needs what I sell
I just want to make sure you know that everybody else does too. All your competitors want to attract these groups. What’s more, they’re all speaking to them in pretty much the same way, and maybe you’re speaking to them the same way too.
To them, your message is just one of thousands they run into every day. It doesn’t hit home, it doesn’t look like it’s specifically meant for them, and the message will likely get lost in the noise.
If you have a small service-based business, you depend on having a steady pipeline of clients so you can have consistent income. It’s natural that you don’t want to exclude anybody, but by speaking to “just anyone” you’re actually speaking to no one… and that’s no good either.
Here’s the real reason why people brush this question over and fail to define a specific-enough audience: they’re afraid to define it because they’re too scared to alienate customers who have cash-money to spend. Cash = good, I get it.
Before we get to fixing all of that, let’s step back and look at this from 10,000 feet.
To know who your dream customer is, you gotta dream a little
Let me ask you this: In an ideal, dream-world scenario, how do you want your business to really be? What work do you really want to be doing, and what don’t you want to be doing? Who are you serving? Who would you rather not serve?
Let go of all the pragmatic thoughts you’ve been clinging to for a sec and create a client vision that is unique to you.
And I don’t just mean audience demographics, I mean what are they like? How do they feel when they work with you, and how does that make you feel? Who benefits, appreciates, and values what you offer the most?
Maybe you don’t start with a demographic at all, maybe it’s a type of person. A person with certain qualities and personality attributes and struggles. Get so specific about this imaginary customer that it makes your heart tingle. Go ahead, cut loose!
And then think about which “categories” they came from. Maybe they work in the non-profit sector, maybe they’re budding entrepreneurs, maybe they’re creative professionals….
I’m giving you permission to let go of all of the formulas you’ve seen for creating a customer persona and just form a mental picture about what an ideal client relationship really feels like.
Isn’t that nicer than filling out the “who is your target customer?” field in yet another questionnaire?
Getting crystal clear about your target customer will help you create the type of business that fulfills and rewards you rather than just waiting around for anybody with money or somebody who needs what you sell to happen upon you.
And guess what? The people who light you up? You light them up too. Now that’s a target worth shooting for.
Tap into the power of your intuition and emotions, go on, seriously
Here’s why: People do business with other people. People they trust, people they like, and people they feel aligned with.
That lights-you-up feeling when you imagine a dream customer is what you’ll need to get your courage up to get more specific and narrow. You’ll be able to see the future and you won’t want to go back…”Hey you know what? I don’t want to work with [these types of people] at all, I really want to be working with [these people].”
Then go ahead and put your business hat back on and begin to think more strategically and in terms of targets and niche markets. Does your dream customer need what you sell? Are there enough of them to sustain your business?
It’s not just a pipe dream to only work with people you love, I’ve been doing it for over 15 years.
That is not to say that a few bad apples haven’t slipped through, or that I’ve never taken on a client who wasn’t a good fit for me when I needed the cash. But somehow, my brilliant younger self clung on to a motto that resonated back then, and I’ve kept it close:
Reaching clients you love
Once you’re clear about who your dream customer is, the puzzle pieces will start to naturally click into place:
• You’ll know where they’re likely to hang out online, so you’ll show up there
• You’ll know what they struggle with, so you’ll create service packages to help them
• You won’t need to write for “just anybody” anymore, you’ll be able to write copy and website content with them in mind, and they’ll notice
• You’ll be able to articulate why you’re different from your competition, because you specialize in serving a specific type of customer
• You’ll get visible with the right people because your message won’t blend in with everybody else’s — they’ll say, “Hey, that’s for me!”
When you stop trying to speak to everyone and anyone and start speaking directly to only your people — they’ll notice. You won’t be just another choice for them to sift through, you’ll be the one tailored specifically for them.