Identifying your ideal customer or client is critical to the overall success of your business. Targeting people who have no interest in what you are offering will quickly result in business failure. The best way for me to explain how to identify your ideal customer or client is to tell you how I figured out who my ideal customers and clients are. Below is a list of the steps I took to identify my ideal target market.
- Research – The first step to identifying your ideal customer or client is to conduct research regarding your industry. You need to know everything that is possible to know about your industry. Understanding your industry and the products and/or services you sell is crucial to identifying your target market. I suggest using research reports from FirstResearch or IBISWorld that are focused around your industry. These reports give you information on everything from industry growth to competition and buying patterns. Analyzing this information is the first step to choosing the appropriate target market. The U.S. Census Bureau also provides extensive data on people and businesses in each state. I suggest using their American FactFinder tool to gather data on the businesses or people you plan on targeting. The tool provides information on the number of people in a certain area by age, gender, race, profession, etc. It also provides information on businesses in all industries based on the number of employees in the industry, payroll, and the number of businesses in an industry per state.
- Test the Waters – After conducting extensive research on your industry, the next step is to test the waters. The best way to learn who your ideal customer is, is to dive right in and begin offering your products and services to the world. Begin promoting your business and products or services, and pay attention to the type of people who express interest in doing business with you. I suggest writing down where they are located, their age, their sex, and other things they do or that interest them. The best way to collect this information is to be straight forward and ask prospects for the information. I suggest creating a voluntary questionnaire that prospective customers or clients must fill out when inquiring about your products or services. (e.g. The questionnaire can be placed on your website as a form prospects have to fill out when requesting more information about your products or services).
- Adjust – Testing the waters will increase your understanding of the people (or businesses) you are targeting. One thing I quickly discovered by testing the waters is that you will know who is serious about using your products or services and who is wasting your time. At this stage you will be able to adjust your target market and focus strictly on the people (or businesses) who are actually buying your product or services.
All in all, the best way to identify your ideal customer is to understand who’s buying your products or services. You can figure this out by completing the three steps above. You can also figure it out by studying your competition and paying attention to the type of people who are buying from them. One of the easiest ways to do this is by checking out your competitor’s website and looking through their testimonials or case studies pages.
This will enable you to see what kind of people they are working with (or targeting). You could also call a competitor and tell them you’re interested in their product or service, and use the opportunity to ask them who what type of people (or businesses) use their products or services the most. You can also ask them what type of people (or businesses) they prefer to work with.