Much has been said in marketing circles about target markets, demographics, psychographics and other ways to define who and what makes an ideal customer.
The notion mostly implies that you determine the makeup of a market that your business seems suited to attract.
The thing that’s always bothered me about this simple approach is that it sort of has a lowest common denominator element to it – who can we attract?
What if you changed this point of view to something more like – whom do we deserve to work with?
Have you ever considered the following question? – What qualities would our ideal customers have?
I’ve spent the last few years evangelizing this idea of an ideal customer. For me the idea implies behavior as much as demographics.
And here’s the other thing, don’t you deserve to work with customers that appreciate your unique value?
Now some might suggest the idea of choosing your customers as somewhat egotistical, but it’s not at all. If you want to work with the leaders in your marketplace, then you better up your game so that can deserve to do so. It’s actually quite a humbling and centering idea.
I was talking about this very idea with a long time friend the other day. Eric Morgenstern’s firm, Morningstar Communications has experienced tremendous success and his roster of client reads like a “most desired” list.
Eric heard me share my thoughts on ideal customer during a presentation to a group of business owners and he later told me how behavior plays an extremely large part in the clients they seek out and, perhaps as importantly, those they don’t.
“Our clients are nice, smart and successful. Two out of three is not sustainable.”
- Companies that are “involved in the community” tend to value effective communications, and our high level of service.
- Companies that are “lifelong learners” tend to value effective communications, and our high level of service.
- Companies that are true leaders believe, “. . . an educated customer is a great customer.”
Those are correlations that help us assess each individual prospect.
So much is a gut feeling . . . about the organization and its leadership, based on expertise and experience.”
So, gather the troops and start asking about ideal customer behavior, traits and qualities that define success.
Begin by exploring personas that you don’t want to work with. Persona is a term that takes its meaning from the idea of a theatrical role. In marketing the term is used to describe the common characteristics of a customer group much like the make up of a character in a play.
A client of mine did this exercise for his design and consulting business and was able to complete sketches of the kinds of clients they did not want to work with in such a way that it made it much easier to define what ideal looked like.
He used personas with names like Lottery Winners and Destined to Be Small to frame qualities that made up red flag customers. He even went as far as to identify customers that he was no longer going to work with.
That’s the funny thing about getting some clarity around this idea – until you know who you must work with, who you choose to work with, it’s far too easy to take work and customers that drag you away from the work you deserve to be doing.
Saying it doesn’t make it so, but until you are working towards defining, understanding and nurturing who you truly deserve to be working with success will elude.