Customers form the beating heart of your startup. Without a stable customer base, you can’t generate sales, bring in income or create a viable business model. So, it’s vital for your new business to have a very clear and fleshed-out idea of your ‘ideal customer’.
Your perfect customer may well evolve and change over the life of the business, but it’s important to define your initial customer audience right from the outset.
Who is the end customer for your products and/or services?
Whenever you create a new product or service, you should have a very specific idea of who your target customer will be. Understanding that customer profile is incredibly important.
Is your ideal customer a high-street consumer, or a procurement manager in a business? Will your audience be younger or older, at the top end of the economic spectrum, or someone with limited cash to spend. Think about the full demographic breakdown of this perfect customer and make as detailed an outline as possible, so you know exactly who you’re targeting.
What are the key needs of this demographic
A good business model provides a solution to a given customer need. Understanding that need in forensic detail is what gives you the power to customise and tailor your offering.
Put yourself in your ideal customer’s shoes and imagine their daily lives. What are the challenges they face? What are the problems holding them back? What are their dreams and aspirations? What kinds of people do they want to become? The more information you can glean on their everyday requirements, the more primed you’ll be to target those self-same needs.
How does your product/service meet these needs?
Knowing your customers’ key needs is only half of the conundrum. What you have to do now is offer a product or service that actually MEETS these needs, at a price the customer will pay.
Ask yourself, ‘what does the customer want, and how can we provide it?’. If you can design the right solution, you’re already halfway to creating a new customer. For example, eating enough fresh fruit and vegetables is something we all struggle with. A business that delivers fresh fruit & veg smoothies to people’s home or work addresses, makes it easier to eat a healthy diet. The ‘needs’ there are healthy eating, convenience and price. Get it right, and you’ve filled that customer niche.
How do you intend to reach this customer audience?
To sell your products, customers must be aware of your brand. So, an important part of your customer research will be understanding which marketing and promotional channels to use.
Knowing where your customers hang out – both online and in the real world – is a critical piece of information when it comes to promotion. In the digital age, there’s a baffling mix of different online channels and social media platforms to navigate. But by doing your research carefully, you soon start working out whether your target audience are Facebook fans, or Twitter lovers. The more detailed you can be about these customer preferences, the better you’ll get at choosing the right promotional and marketing routes.
Bringing it all together into a customer profile
By combining all the information you’ve gathered into one concise customer profile, you give your sales and marketing team a very clear picture of who to target.
This would be the customer profile in our food delivery example:
IdealCustomer profile: busy, time-poor professionals in the 25-45 age bracket, with an interest in healthy eating and nutrition
Customer need: finding the time to eat their 5-a-day fresh fruit and veg
Our solution: Fresh fruit & veg smoothies delivered to their home or work address
Marketing channels: train station advertising, Instagram adverts and ads in city gyms.
If you’re at the early stages of planning your customer audience, we can help you define your business strategy accordingly.