How would you describe your ideal customer? What about your worst customer? With the right approach, you can attract more of the former and a lot less of the latter.
Whenever a business offers a service, the way they present it influences how and why customers respond. If you’ve been attracting the wrong kinds of customers to your business, it might be more than just bad luck. Your pricing, your marketing, and the way you describe your services doesn’t just influence how many people contact you; it can also have a large impact on what kinds of customers contact you. If you want to change the kinds of customers you’re attracting and what jobs you do most commonly, you need to build an ideal customer profile to market to.
By using a customer profile, you’ll be able to understand what your customers want and how to adjust your marketing (and pricing) to match those needs. If you do it right, you’ll make more money and deal with fewer headaches. We’ll show you how to build a profile, what information to include, and how that profile can help your business.
The customer profiles that you build might not have the same level of detail as the examples we created here, or they might be very niche and industry-specific. If you work with commercial clients, you might profile businesses instead of individuals. These profiles, however you build them, will help you summarize and personalize the demographic and business data that is used to make intelligent marketing decisions. If you know how your marketing tools work, but you’re not quite sure what audiences you should target with them, try using customer profiles.
Understanding Your Demographics
Before you profile your ideal customer, you need to figure out what your average customer looks like. If you keep good records, you should already have a small demographic database of who you’ve worked with lately. Take a look at your recent jobs, and look for patterns. Here are some things you should look at:
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- Estimated income
- Kind of service provided
- Profit margin
- Issues that arose
You might find that certain customer types are more likely to need specific services than others, or that certain kinds of service calls end up being more frustrating than the rest. You might find out that your highest-margin service is being under-utilized by your core demographic, or that you’re attracting a certain kind of customer that you hadn’t initially anticipated.
Keep this information on hand as you build your customer profiles, as you’ll want to reference it frequently. Used properly, this kind of data can be a powerful business tool.
Profiling Your Ideal Customer
A properly written customer profile puts a human face on the otherwise cold numbers that drive your business decisions. By identifying what your ideal customer needs and how to reach more customers like them, you’ll be able to put your business statistics to good use.
Step One: General Profiles
To start out, create broad descriptions of a few ideal customers. You can base them off from real interactions you’ve had with customers. Don’t include any demographic data yet; just write down what they want and what’s important to them.
As an example, imagine you run a remodeling businesses and you specialize in kitchens. Here are two customers:
Programmer Jenn: Jenn is a software engineer who enjoys cooking as a hobby. She wants to work with a remodeler who will help her design a custom kitchen that uses professional appliances.
Accountant Frank: Frank is an accountant who enjoys hosting social gatherings. He wants to expand his kitchen to make it easier to entertain company, and needs a remodeler who can help him create a kitchen that’s comfortable and inviting.
Both of these customers want kitchens that are customized to their needs, but the kitchens they envision are quite different. One is feature-rich and centered around professional appliances (and needs wiring and gas plumbing), while the other is large and centered around entertaining guests (and needs drywall and premium materials). As the owner of this imaginary remodeling business, you want more customers like Frank and Jenn. In order to do that you need to change how you present your services to reach them.
Build out your profiles by including the theoretical interests and needs of your customers. Every remodeling project, home repair, and service call has some kind of a story or background behind it; create one for your customer profile. For these two, we’d include information about what they enjoy the most in a kitchen or what their particular pain points are, and what kind of service experience they’d enjoy the most.
Step Two: Add Demographics and Goals
Once you’ve identified the general needs and motivations of your customer profiles, combine it with the demographic data you pulled together. Add reasonable demographic information to your profiles, using community census data for accuracy. See how your ideal customers fit into the framework of your existing customers, and look for points of conflict.
If your ideal customers are similar to your existing customers in age and income but you don’t attract customers who are interested in those specific jobs, you can re-target your marketing to focus on that kind of work. If most of your customers come to you for smaller jobs and cite price as their primary concern, you can re-adjust your rates and your branding to target higher-income customers. This cross-section of what you want and what you have is the starting point for making intelligent business decisions.
As you’re putting the puzzle together, ask yourself these questions:
- How would these customers describe the services they’re looking for?
- What would lead these customers to choose a particular contractor or business?
- What is the best way to engage with these customers?
In the case of our examples, we know Jenn is concerned with functionality while Frank is concerned with comfort. They would both use language focused on quality, and they both want someone who can help them with planning and designing the kitchen. Neither of them are specifically interested in family-oriented kitchens, however, and an ad campaign that focuses on that traditional approach wouldn’t resonate with them.
Demographically, we can look at the median age in our community, as well as data on average incomes and job sectors. In more populated areas, we can separate customers geographically, and combine the resulting map with other data sets to get a better picture. Knowing where your customers are and what they do is important. With the right demographic information you can create ad campaigns that precisely target your ideal audience.
Step Three: Determine Your Points of Contact
Jenn is a tech-savvy person who reads interior design blogs and is active on social media, while Frank is more passive online but enjoys local news and television. Jenn will do a lot of research to find a solution that works well for her, while Frank relies on personal recommendations from friends and family.
How would you market to them?
Most businesses use a mixed advertising approach. The way you advertise on twitter is different than the way you advertise in the local paper; you’re accessing different demographics. After you’ve looked at how your demographics and your customer profiles work together, you need to identify where you can reach those customers in an authentic way.
71% of all online adults use Facebook, but only 10% of online adults over the age of 65 use Twitter. If your ideal customers belong to older generations, Twitter isn’t an ideal point of contact for them. They respond better to traditional advertising and an in-the-community approach.
Let’s say that Frank is in his mid-fifties. 63% of online adults in that age range are on Facebook, and 56% read the Sunday paper. Since Frank relies on recommendations and word-of-mouth, he’ll respond the best to a service with public customer reviews and marketing language that highlights customer satisfaction. A campaign based on Facebook ads as the primary platform, potentially paired with local advertising, would be the ideal way to reach customers like Frank.
Jenn, on the other hand, is the kind of customer who responds better to an inbound approach. As someone who actively searches for and reads articles about interior design, Jenn is more likely to use Google to find local companies or click on ads on her favorite sites. Since she’s in her early thirties, there’s a fair chance that she doesn’t read the newspaper. The easiest way to reach customers like Jenn is through a Google Adwords campaign that brings customers to a visually driven landing page with an incentivized contact form at the bottom.
By figuring out where your primary points of contact are with your ideal customers, you’ll be able to focus your advertising efforts. Instead of devoting your ad spend to a single broad campaign spread across multiple platforms, you’ll be able to run multiple concurrent campaigns with specific audiences and calls to action, increasing your conversion rates.
You can even do things like target the audiences of other businesses, or specifically target your existing customers. Facebook even lets you build campaigns for individual people or fans of specific pages. By using customer profiles to figure out who to market to, you reach out directly to your target audience.
Using Profiles To Target Your Services
The process we’ve detailed here works for almost every customer-centric business. Whether you’re a plumber, an electrician, or a locksmith, there will be some variability in the services you provide and the different customers you attract. By building intelligent profiles of your ideal customers, you can develop targeted campaigns that will help you generate the right kind of business.
Beyond the marketing campaigns, though, is the idea of service specialization. It’s a topic in its own right, but the basic idea is that a service business that provides in-depth services typically generates more revenue than a business that provides a wide breadth of services, because it can focus its message (and the experience of its team) into a narrow band of work.
The customer profiles we’ve explored today are a great tool for businesses looking to find that depth. By combining demographic data with sales data and creating a persona for the customers you want to sell to, you can identify the services you should invest more in, from all sides. If, in the case of our example, you find that you pull a better margin from customers like Jenn than Frank, you can invest in hardware-specific certifications, more equipment, or more training to better serve customers like her, and stop focusing on services that distract from that.
Similarly, you can also use customer profiles to re-target your services away from bad customers. By figuring out what defines and attracts customers you don’t want to deal with, you can move away from work that isn’t rewarding. You can adjust your marketing, your pricing, and even your service areas to help your business transition into more profitable work.
You can’t avoid bad customers entirely, but you can avoid deliberately attracting them.