Who is your ideal customer?

By Chris Dodds on March 25, 2014

By Chris Dodds on March 25, 2014

It’s easy to feel lost when trying to market a business. You may find yourself stuck on how to pull customers in or how to drive purchases. With the flood of advertisements and other information that people see everyday, you’re probably struggling to stand out.

When you’re writing content for your website, developing social media, or working on marketing in general, there are six important questions to ask that will help you focus and be able to set yourself apart from the crowd — Who? Why? What? When? Where? How?

The first part of this blog series is going to focus on “Who”?


“Who am I marketing to?” It’s a simple-sounding question, but difficult for many business owners to answer, especially those who are just starting out. Too often, the answer is “everyone”.

“Everyone” doesn’t work. If your audience is too broad, you’re not going to be able market effectively. To be all-inclusive, your marketing will be so bland that no one will care.

By marketing to “everyone”, you’re also going to burn through your marketing budget. Without a clear focus, you’ll just be throwing money at different marketing efforts and hoping for the best.

Maybe you’ve been able to pair down your audience a bit further than “everyone”. Maybe it’s “small business owners”. That’s better, but still not great.

In the past, “small business owners” may have been a narrow enough focus to work. But we live in a world with an ever growing number of options and niches. You may have 100 competitors in your city all focusing on “small business owners”. It’s going to hard to stand out without drilling down further.

Your ideal customer

A better path is to imagine your ideal customer. Get specific, imagine an individual (it could also be a real person you know) you would love to work with and all their characteristics. Flesh them out, give them life.

  • How old are they?
  • What do they do for fun?
  • What kind of car do they drive?
  • What do they do for a living?
  • How much money do they have to spend with you?
  • What’s their personality like?
  • What issues do they care about?

An example: Maybe you’re an accountant with a flair for working with creative entrepreneurs. Your ideal customer might be Karen, a 30-year old portrait photographer, who lives near Paseo in Oklahoma City, drives a Volkswagen Jetta, likes baking sausage quiches, has $200 a month to spend with you, and loves making puns while working to encourage urban farming.

Just think of how powerful your marketing could be if it was custom tailored to someone like Karen. She’d probably feel like you understood her—that you “get it”. Your marketing would stand out above everything else she sees during the day. It’s going to make a connection.

Go deep before going broad

Don’t be afraid to get super specific. Just because this individual is the focus of your marketing efforts doesn’t mean you have to turn other people away or that you can’t evolve that image over time. You can always zoom out.

Here’s the thing: Even though you’re focusing your marketing on Karen (or Paul, or Kamal, or whoever your ideal customer is), your reach is much broader. Karen represents a niche of other Karens, she’s not a one-of-a-kind snowflake.

And each of those Karens has friends who are probably pretty similar to her. If you’ve made a personal connection with her with your marketing, she’s not going to shut up about you. She’s going to tell everyone she knows.

So use “Who?” as a tool to give your marketing (and your business) focus. Really work on the answer and get as specific as you can. The answer is going to lay the foundation for everything you do in marketing.

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