How to define your ideal customer

When you are just starting a business, it can be helpful to think of who your ideal customers will be. Why? You may wonder. Well, the answer is pretty simple: creating a picture of your ideal customers will help you to showcase your business in a way that will resonate with them. 

Your business doesn’t have to appeal to the masses, but it must be presented in a way that will engage your ideal audience. Knowing your ideal customers will also allow you to tailor your services based on the problems that you can solve for them. How do you this? Read on to find out!

Define your target audience

Defining your audience

Every business has a different audience. For example, if you start a real estate copywriting business (like I did!) you will have a different audience from someone that is starting an online store selling scrunchies. This doesn’t mean that my customers don’t wear scrunchies, but it just shows that you would communicate with each of these audiences differently. 

Ideal customer Avatar

It is often recommended that businesses create what is called an ideal customer avatar. This is a fictional person (or people) that represents your ideal customer.

It can be very helpful for you to go through this exercise and create an ideal customer avatar for your business. Give it a name and a photo, and you can refer back to him or her as you start creating content for your business. 

For example, this is Jess – the ideal customer avatar I have created for this article:

Ideal customer avatar example

Now that we have given a name and photo to our ideal customer, we can start to really get into her mindset, understand how she feels and how we can help her overcome her problems and frustrations. 

How to create your own ideal customer avatar

Here are some initial questions and ideas that you can consider when thinking about your ideal customer: 

  • Key demographics: How old are they? Where do they live? Are they male or female? Married or single?
  • What type of content do they engage with? Blog posts, emails, videos, social media, etc
  • What are their interests/hobbies? (Do they like sports, books, cooking) What do they do during the weekend? In the evenings? What are their values?
  • Are you more likely to find them on Instagram, Linkedin, Pinterest or somewhere else?

If you can help more than one type of customer, it’s a great idea to have an ideal customer avatar for each of them.

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Free ideal customer avatar template

Understanding how your ideal customer thinks

Besides defining your ideal customers’ demographics, it is important to get into their heads to understand how your customers think. Try to really get a sense of what would motivate them to reach out to a business like yours.

Try to put yourself in Jessica’s shoes to understand her pain points, problems, and frustrations. What will make her pick up the phone and give you a call? What’s happening in her business and everyday life that requires your help? 

These are some questions that you can consider:

  • What are your ideal customer’s challenges/frustrations? 
  • What motivates them to seek out a business like yours?
  • What is their ideal outcome after using your product or service?
  • What results do they want? 
  • What’s holding them back from achieving this goal?
  • What problems/needs do they have that your business is solving?

Focus on problems

Even if we are not fully conscious about it, we buy products or services because we have a problem that needs solving or a need to be met. Think about the latest purchases that you’ve made – what was the problem or need behind them?

Maybe you bought a new pair of shoes for the gym or downloaded an app to help you be more mindful. 

Now think about the products or services that you want to offer your customers – what is the ultimate problem that it is going to solve?

Thinking back to our fictional ideal customer – Why should Jessica care about your business? 

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Think about your ideal customer. What problems do they face? 

Your customers may not know what is the solution to their problems just yet, but they often know what those problems are. They would normally come across your business while researching for a solution. 

When you are creating content for your business, think back to these problems. Your challenge is to communicate your services in a way that they are portrayed as a solution to your ideal customer’s needs.

Think of this question from your customer’s point of view. Imagine Jessica thinking:

“What’s in it for me?”

“How is my life/business going to be easier/better after engaging your services?”

Focus on the benefits that you can offer such as saving time, being healthier, increasing sales, and so on.

How to figure out your customers’ problem

Doing market research is often a good way to get a great insight into your ideal customer’s problems.

This doesn’t need to be anything too formal. If you know anyone that fits within your ideal customer profile, take them out for a coffee and talk through your ideas. Take a pen and paper, ask them some questions, and note down the answers. Give them a call and have a chat over the phone, or send them questions by email. 

You can also talk to any past and current customers that you may have, your followers on social media, or any friends, family, or acquaintances that may fit your ideal customer’s profile. 

You can also do market research by approaching businesses that you use as a customer. For example, if you want to do food photography, you can go to your local cafe and chat with the owner. Explain what you are planning to do and ask for their thoughts as you buy your latte. 

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What questions to ask

As you are doing your market research, ask people what their struggles and frustrations are, rather than what they need. They may not know what the solutions to their problem are. It is your job to figure that out! 

On the other hand, they will be well aware of their frustrations and, with the right questions, they should be able to communicate them to you.

Things to consider

  • Ask questions to gather information about their business and the way they operate.
  • What are their current frustrations? (especially the ones that relate to problems that you can solve)
  • How have they tried to address their pain points?
  • Where do they look to find more information about dealing with their problems?
  • How satisfied or dissatisfied have they been with what they’ve tried? Why?