No matter how great your product is, and despite your devotion to customer service, most people won’t buy what you sell.
A common mistake of entrepreneurs, however, is to try to appeal to everybody, assuming that anybody is a potential customer.
That approach is not the most efficient, and it will dilute the message of who you really are — which makes it that much more difficult to show potential customers what you can do for them.
Best customer forever
As an exercise, describe your best friend. Mine is not just a female who lives in Manhattan. No, she’s fun, likes movies and an occasional drink. She enjoys shopping for clothing, but not groceries, so she eats out a fair amount. She has a driver’s license but doesn’t own a car. Go a little deeper and you will find she is an avid baseball fan. But her team is the San Francisco Giants, because her grandmother rooted for the Giants, even after they left New York in 1958.
Car rental companies can attract my friend’s interest, but car manufacturers never turn her head. She will investigate a new restaurant near her home and she has been looking into the many new companies that will deliver fresh food to her apartment. She subscribes to MLB.com and watches Giants highlights on her phone. She comments on social media about their biggest wins.
Can you describe your ideal customer to that level of detail?
If not, let’s start.
Who wants what you sell?
Why would this person buy your product? Does it make life easier or does it enhance their own business? How much does that customer know – or want to know — about your product? Do they involve themselves with its implementation, or instead do they just want it to work without worrying about it? Do you have customers for whom cost is no object, and others who look for every bargain?
And if one is much more profitable for you, how do you get more of them and fewer of the other?
Not only do personas help you communicate with your existing customers, and find the most profitable ones, but a deep understanding also can help you address churn, or the phenomenon of customers who buy, and then leave you for someone else.
If you are just starting out in business, create personas that reflect who you think your ideal clients should be. You might believe your sweet spot is made up of homemakers, architects and artisan coffee brewers. Determine their comfort with technology and whether they will drive to your office or work only online. What is their income range, age and gender? Giving them names might help you build an even stronger connection.
Longer-term companies can survey their existing clients. It’s one more way to communicate with your customers, and offers an opportunity to know and describe them in greater detail.
Happy customer, happy entrepreneur
The results might surprise you, too. Perhaps you will create an entirely new persona for your ideal customer, add another one or two, or tailor a better sales message.
At the same time, you will stop pursuing customers who are unlikely to ever buy from you. You can stop selling to everybody and anybody, because you understand them — and your perfect customer — much better.