When you’re planning your advertising and marketing activity, it’s important to make sure you are targeting all your hard work at the right sort of customer – your ideal customer!
Creating very generalised marketing content and trying to appeal to everyone in the world at once is not only a waste of your time, but it’s also extremely ineffective. You’re unlikely to attract any more customers than you usually do, and the people who are your ideal customers won’t be getting targeted enough for them to pay attention to you.
So the first stage of any marketing plan is to work out who your ideal customer is, and this enables you to focus all your hard work towards them and their needs, which will hopefully make them more likely to purchase from you.
What is an Ideal Customer Profile?
While we like to think that everyone and anyone will buy our services, the truth is every business has a specific audience which their product or service is best suited to. Therefore, deciding who that ideal audience is, and then planning your marketing activity around them makes the most sense.
Creating an ideal customer profile will allow you to plan out who your customers typically are, what parts of your services they are most attracted to, what products will provide the most benefit for them, and what is the best way to reach them with your marketing efforts.
You don’t need to have one ideal customer profile for your entire business – you can segment them according to different areas of your business. This can be particularly handy if you’re a training company that offers lots of different types of training, as you wouldn’t be able to hit all your different audiences with one ideal customer profile.
It’s so important to make the time to create as many ideal customer profiles as you need to cover your whole business, and even more important to not view it as limiting your reach! In fact you’ll be increasing the likelihood of attracting new customers if you are only targeting people who are likely to be really interested in what you’re offering.
Creating Your Ideal Customer Profile
Who are They?
The first thing to think about when creating your ideal customer profile is who your ideal customers are on a personal level.
This can include things as basic as:
- Level of income
- Current level of education
- Marital/family status
These may seem like really basic points to start with, but they can really help you build a picture of what your ideal customers’ lives are like. Little bits of insight like this can really help you target your content and your marketing activity to make sure your ideal customers relate to what you are saying to them.
Things like age may help you decide how you are going to target your potential customers, as you may be more likely to engage with a younger audience through the use of social media. Location will obviously affect who you are going to target as well, as typically your ideal customers will need to be near to your training facility. However, if you offer eLearning, then this will open up your customer profile to anyone who is able to access a computer.
As we said above, you can split your ideal customer profile into as many separate profiles as you need to make sure you are covering all aspects of your business, though some may be more important and used more often than others.
How do They Think?
The next thing to consider is how your ideal customers think. Some things you may want to look at related to this include:
- What hobbies do they have? If your training is quite specific, such as a particular sport, then this will obviously give you an idea of the sort of hobbies your ideal customer is likely to have. It can also give you some insight into additional hobbies they have, which may make them likely to return to you for different training in the future. This is great insight for remarketing activities later on.
- Where do they get their information from? Insight like this will give you an idea of where you should target your marketing activities to make sure you reach your target audience. Information sources could be things like social media, specialised online forums, online or print magazines, etc.
- Do they have any brand or service preferences already? This information can let you know how hard you’ll have to work to win over potential customers. If there is already a well-known player in your sector, it may be hard to fight that ‘household name’ factor. However, this can let you know that you need to create content that highlights why you’re the better choice over you competitor – whether that’s due to price, experienced tutors, specialist class content, or what previous students have gone on to do with the qualification they earned with your training company. Anything that you can highlight that will show you off as better than your competitor could be key to getting your ideal customer’s business.
What do They do?
In this section you should look at the current behaviours your ideal customer base might have. This should help you see where you can change their behaviours to help make sure they purchase from you in the future instead. These behaviours can include things like:
- Have they bought training before?/Have they purchased training online before?/Have they purchased eLearning training before? Customers who have bought training before will be familiar with the process, and therefore it may be easier to get them to purchase again, whereas first-time buyers may be more of a challenge to covert. Insight like this will greatly affect not only the marketing materials you produce, but also how hard you hit a particular customer profile, as some may require more work and more steps in the process before they will buy from you.
- Where have they bought training from before? As we mentioned above, knowing where your customers usually shop will give you some indication of what you are up against, and what you will need to do in order to win them over to your side.
- Do they frequently use the Internet? This will allow you to plan out the kind of marketing activity you’re going to complete for these customers. If they don’t use the Internet a lot then you may have to change how you would traditionally communicate with them. On the other hand, maybe your ideal customer has to use the Internet to get the most out of your product, and therefore you don’t need to worry about people who don’t go online.
- How impulsive are they? This may give you some indication as to how potential customers would react to being reached out to by you. Are they likely to jump right in and purchase some training, or will they have to think about it and do some planning before they make a decision? This will also let you plan how long your potential customer journey will be, as not everything is going to be a quick win. Finally, impulsive customers may be convinced with the use of something like a discount or a free gift, which could be used as part of your marketing strategy.
- Are they members of any associations? If you provide training that is accredited by certain associations, or you have training that members of certain associations need to complete as part of their membership, this can be a great point to hammer home in your marketing. Drawing this point to their attention straight away also stops them having to search through search engines and then your website to find the information they need.
All these questions will give you lot of insight into the buying habits of your ideal customers, which should hopefully allow you to plan for how you can change those buying habits to include you instead of your competitors.
Where are They?
The final stage of building your ideal customer profile is thinking about where you ideal customers are and where they operate.
This obviously covers things like which country they live in, but also covers bigger things like the political climate where they live and work, as this may have an impact of the type of content you create, or the way you phrase certain things.
From an administration point of view, it’s also important to think about things such as currency, how you would take payment from them, and what languages they are likely to speak.
All of these points will help you tailor the content of your marketing materials, and will also give you the chance to highlight points which may be of specific interest to that specific customer – for example, if you offer eLearning in several different languages other than English, you may wish to make a big deal of this when marketing to customer based in other countries.
Where to Get Your Customer Information
So what is the best way to get the information you need to be able to successfully build your ideal customer profile? The best way is to look at your current customers and analyse them for the points above!
In some cases, you may be able to use the data you already hold on your current and past customers in your CRM to help your start painting the picture, such as all the general information we mentioned in the ‘Who Are They?’ paragraph at the start of this post. However, to get the more detailed information, you’ll need to speak to your customers directly.
The best way to do this is probably through surveys, which will allow you to quickly get in touch with any of your students who have taken any training with you and ask the exact questions you need to. It also means you can segment your audience and ask slightly different questions to different group of students if you need to.
Once you gather all the data you will be able to segment it however you need to, so you can get the most relevant information possible for each individual ideal customer profile.
You can also continue to survey your customer base, as more students sign up to training with you. This means you will always have access to the most up-to-date data possible, and you can tweak your ideal customer profile when appropriate.
Need Some Help Creating Those Surveys?
If you plan to start surveying your customer base to kick off your ideal customer profile creation, then why not check out our ‘5 Tips for Creating the Perfect Surveys’ download?