Which One Of These Things Is Not Like The Others?
Santa Claus, Leprechauns, the Easter Bunny or the Ideal Customer. Obviously, the first three have holidays associated with them, so why does the ideal customer not have a holiday? Because every day is ideal customer day! My guess is that you celebrate your customers every time you drive to the bank and deposit their checks! My question to you is … “Do you know who your ideal customers are and how and where to find them?”
As business owners, we all try to find great new customers while servicing the ones that we already have, but do we really spend enough time trying to figure out who our ideal customer is? Major corporations have teams of people spending millions of dollars trying to figure that out, and SOMETIMES they get it right. We, small business owners, are so busy trying to fill our pipelines and funnels, that we often forget to differentiate between a warm body with a checking account and those who actually make us giddy when we get up in the morning.
What constitutes the ideal customer?
That's a tough question with an elusive answer that depends on what kind of business you have and what your unique markets or skill sets are. We all fall prey to the concept of niche marketing, where we find one good customer and decide there's got to be more of them in a niche. Then, we ultimately realize how to REALLY identify our ideal customer by figuring out the set of traits that make them unique and perfect for our business.
If you can match a customer's problems with your unique set of skills, products or services, then you will have a better understanding of your perfect customer. You will then have to answer these questions:
- Do they have money? – There are many prospective people and businesses that can use your services, but can they afford what you offer at the price that you charge? So, if you're trying to just sell on what you do, that sometimes equates to meeting the needs of the general public. It may not serve them well, and THEY may not be your unique, ideal customers.
- Do they match with your values and value propositions? – Is the way that you do business, and what you offer, and the prices that you charge a good fit for everyone? Absolutely not! You may have to determine what makes you different from everybody else in your industry. You need to create a clear and defined marketing message that lets people know what it is you have to offer, and why you are better. Note: just because you're better for some people, does not mean you're better for everybody … does it?
- Are they already connected? – You may be fighting an uphill battle, because some people may have already found what they consider to be the absolute best answer for their needs and wants. Don't discount them, but put in some time and effort and continue to communicate with them, so they learn that there may be other options, including you, that can better serve their needs in the future.
- Are they motivated and is this the right time? – You can be the best thing since sliced bread, but if someone is looking to eat bagels, then you are not the answer right now. Be patient, continue to communicate with them and don't overstep your bounds. Continue to be the best resource that you can possibly be to everybody who can utilize what you have to provide. Then, wait for the time when they say, …”Let's talk.”
I will not even pretend that I can tell you who your exact ideal client is or will be, because I just don't know you and your business. I can, however, tell you that I've worked with many clients who thought they knew who the best and most profitable clients were, but could not identify their ideal clients.
Hopefully, by sharing what I've learned about my ideal clients, maybe you can ask yourself the right questions to help you better identify what the ideal client is for your business:
- Do they actually have a business? – I meet and converse with a lot of people who are in business … but they don't run a business. What they really have is a hobby! They are either selling somebody else's stuff, or they are working part-time to supplement what it is they're doing. No offense, but most of these people couldn't tell the difference between a balance sheet and a balance beam! The most important thing they really don't understand is the concept of return on investment. All they can see is that more clients equal more money chances with no concern as to whether they are a good fit.
- Are they willing to be an active participant? – There are so many people who are focused on … “I only need to get new business, and I need to hire somebody to get it for me.” What you REALLY need is to find those who are willing to invest time and energy into making the business successful. There are way too many people that spend a lot of money, hire consultants and try multiple online marketing techniques, but will probably never be successful at any of them, because they're not willing to spend the time to learn what it all means and how to do it right.
- Are they good at communication? – The best clients I have are willing to communicate on a regular basis and understand that both positive and negative communications are equally useful in business. They're also willing to try new things. They realize that not every process is going to be right the first time. There is a trial and error process where you learn what works and what doesn't. Learn from mistakes and build on success.
So, how do you find these kinds of clients? First and foremost, you have to get out there in front of them. You have to be willing to invest your time to listen to them, educate them and invest in them first. You also have to be willing to be flexible and learn how to serve them better. Just because you have done something one way in the past, does not mean doing it that way is going to work in the future.
Be true to yourself and to your business. You have to make a profit to stay in business, however that doesn't always mean that you have to only take money from other people to make your business successful. If you can find a way to help other people become more successful, then you create an environment where people will love, respect and recommend you to others.
If you have truly learned how to solve other people's problems, ideal customers will find you, and the money will eventually flow towards you!
I would love to hear your comments, suggestions, success stories, failures or anything you can add to this …