Defining the ideal customer for our startup

Any company bases their success on their customers; therefore, it is highly important to define the customers right. There is never too much emphasis in defining the customers correctly. The foundation of any Company, and specially startups, is about identifying and meeting the consumer needs. The better we do this the greater the satisfaction we are going to produce to our customers and the higher chances of future success we are going to have. During this exercise you should picture a very specific person in your head and not a range of people. You want to say my customer is a 43 years old woman living in a house and owning 2 cats.
Defining well our customer will simplify our future decisions. When we know whom are we selling to, choosing the right path is easy. We will know how our customers feel about any decision we make. We will know how to do advertisement. Does she watch TV? Does she go to certain places or have specific hobbies? A good definition will improve the word of mouth for our company. If they like what they bought they will share it with other friends whom will have higher chances of buying it. In the worst-case scenario, when the buyers reach for the customer service you will know how to approach the problems and solve them in the best effective way. Having seen the importance of a good customer definition let’s start!

1- Where do they hang out?

That is a valid question that not only refers to the physical world but also in the cyberspace. The more specific the better. You can’t say they are on Facebook because, let’s face it, everyone is. What you should consider is which pages do they like; which groups do they frequent? So, following the example, she is in the Vienna wine lovers Facebook group. Also, she goes to the wine bar at the Gutenberg street where they have a selection of swiss wines. This will help you to know where to advertise: certain Facebook groups, forums, but physical locations such as stores but other public places.

2- Where do they get the information from?

Every time she has a question where does she go to get the information? If you were Coca-Cola you could flood any possible channel but since you’re not you should be strategic about it. Maybe she gets a monthly magazine? She asks her friends? Googles it? Asks in Twitter? Goes through Quora? And How does she do it? On the cellphone? in person? computer? laptop? Which cellphone does she use? So, in our case she searches in Wikipedia using her iPhone.

3- What are their challenges and frustrations?

Everything can be summed up to empathy. Your aim is to be walking in your customer’s shoes to understand their challenges and frustrations. If you do it properly you will be able to identify the different pain pints and problems customers are facing. In the illustrative example she, let’s name her Sara, wants to try different exotic but good wines but it’s hard because Europe is full of delicious wines. Also, summer is approaching so she wishes she had 3kg less to be on perfect shape for the beach. The challenges and frustrations should impact several key points.

  • The service you offer should provide enough value so that the customer is willing to pay for it instead of doing it by themselves. The same for products, they must solve a challenge or a frustration good enough so it is worth buying.
  • Challenges and frustrations have strong emotions attached to it. Empathizing with your client and appealing to the feelings, connecting through the emotions, instead of using the rational will create a stronger connection.
  • When potential customers see existing customers that solved the same proved they have using your product, potential new customers will be more likely to buy your product.

4- What are their goals and priorities right now?

The place where your client goals and your product overlap is the area you want to maximize. It is known as product/market fit. It is defined as the degree which the product satisfies a market. However, now the concept has evolved and it is tested through the minimum viable product.

5- What brands do they like?

Each brand has their own personality, produce different emotions, and attract different types of people. Make a list of the brands your ideal customer likes, in general but also within your niche. This will help you to clarify the shape of your brand and find inspiration on how to better connect with your potential audience but also spark ideas of collaborations. For example, which partnerships make sense to pursue.

6- What is their preferred form of communication?

Finding the way your audience and specially your customers communicate is vital. Do they tweet? Text? Call? Send emails? Different people have distinct communication styles. If you want to address yourself to a teenage audience maybe snapchat would be your best choice because young people are using Facebook less and less frequently. However, if your age target is much older maybe calls would work best.

7- What phrases and exact languages do they use?

Have you ever read something from a brand and thought that they were fake? This is the problem when you don’t use the specific jargon from your audience. Listen your clients’ problems, needs, and desires and write it down. When researching you are going to hear certain words and sentences repeated over and over. These words or sentences are the jargon from your niche. You should use them because they will tell your customer weather you’re an insider or an outsider. If you don’t speak “the same language” you will be building barriers around yourself, people won’t see you on the same level and will be reticent. Whereas, if you speak their jargon things will be much easier. You’ll get their sense of humor and point of view easily. It will provide a feeling of belonging and connection that will increase the loyalty towards your brand.

8- What is their budget?

Pricing is always tricky. Money is a complicated issue that even in day to day situations is a taboo. If you sell a product to cheap or too expensive no one will buy it. Think about it, would you buy a house that costs 100 euros? It is surely a scam, because it makes no sense. Would you buy a 100 euros cup of coffee? What have they thought that money grows on trees? The economists say that the product should cost the maximum amount possible that your customer is willing and able to pay. But the whole pricing strategy is topic for another post.

9- What does a day in their life look like?

Imagining your customers’ regular day adds a personal touch to your communication. Everything is about empathy, if you can visualize what an ideal day of their lives is, then you can act on it in different ways. It is practical because you know when to send an email for example. When are they more likely to respond to your messages? When are they most attentive?

10- What makes them happy?

That is one of the most important questions every person should know the answer to in life. Business is more than a simple transaction. People interact with people because they become happy, so the same with brands. People would prefer brands that makes them happy without any second thoughts. People like pleasant surprises, provide unexpected and make the customers smile. Real personalization is very valuable to the customers. A handwritten note, a personalized birthday congratulations, etc. Laughter will create a deeper bond which will in turn create a long-term loyal fans. It is about improving the “gut-feeling” when people hear about your product/company.
After completing all of these questions, you should know who is your ideal customer. Now that you know it is good to summarize it. For example, look at the following paragraph using our example.
“Sara loves spending time learning about Vienna wine lovers Facebook group. It’s a passion of hers. Her biggest frustration is that she cannot find exotic interesting wines easily. When she’s in research mode, the first place she goes to her on her iPad. Her long-term dream is to start a cellar with lovely unconventional wines where she would spend time with wine lovers during weekends”

But that was not all! The ones who have an existing audience have a treasure. You can use different sources. On your website you should already have google analytics. That is a tool that compiles different types of information about the users, and their behaviors while surfing your website. Apart from that it offers you some basic demographics. It’s up to you how much information you want to mine from there. If you have been using social media your business can also benefit from that. You can mine the different channels you’ve been using to extract information. But always keep in mind that each medium may be biased towards specific types of population, each social network has a target group of people. If you don’t have any users… check your competitors 😉

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