David Fuller“Our ideal customer is anybody who’s breathing,” was the response to my question of who this businessman’s ideal customer was.

“Really?” I said. “Are you serious?”

Unfortunately, his reply was “Yes.”

That affirmative answer was probably the reason this business owner was turning to me for help with his company.

Many businesses are only marginally profitable because they fail to get clarity on who their ideal customers are.

We launch new products, go into new markets, open new divisions using the shotgun approach. We’re going to fire a bunch of ideas into the marketplace and hope we hit a bullseye. We hope we’ll get some great customers knocking our door down to pay us good money for what we’re offering.

The reality is that while we think we’re hunting moose, we end up chasing rabbits. We get customers who want modifications. We get requests for information that doesn’t end up in sales. We spend time explaining what we have to offer because our ‘ideal customers’ don’t understand our value proposition.

Everyone in the business becomes frustrated. This leads to low morale, high turnover and a pressure-cooker situation.

How do we come up with a plan that’s really effective? How do we come up with strategies that are going to entice our perfect customer to reach out to us?

The first step is to identify who’s using our products or services and come up with a profile for our ideal customers. Who exactly are they? What are their ages, interests, commonalities? Why did they reach out to us? Specifically, what problem are we solving for them and what’s it costing them in real dollars by not having the issue fixed?

Once we get real clarity on who these customers are and what their true needs are, it becomes much easier to target them with our marketing.

Once we understand what our customers value, we can clearly define whether pursuing this market is a viable option for our business. Without in-depth consideration of this value and how it differentiates from our competition, we often make costly mistakes that can take years to overcome. (I have a great little template to help business owners with this. Just fire me off an email.)

If we’ve decided that moving forward is the best option and we’re clear about where we’re going as a company, we need to come up with a strategy for our marketing that will achieve the goals. In the case of market expansion, this usually involves more customers and higher sales.

Marketing strategy can be complex, but often tried-and-true strategies will get a company the best results. Differentiating products and services from other competitors and capturing the attention of our ideal clients is the best method. Many companies don’t drive sales to great products because they fail to understand what will capture the attention of the client. Having done this research previously will enable you to be clear about your strategy.

Capturing customers’ attention is only the beginning of our marketing. We need to give them a reason to believe in us. This might be research, studies, testimonials or something else that positions us as trustworthy. Without trust, few of our ideal clients will buy our products or services. Trust is the basis of all long-lasting relationships and it’s no different in business.

Finally, one of the mistakes business owners make is failing to have a call to action. If we’ve captured our ideal client’s attention and enabled them to trust us, we need to ask them to follow through on that trust and solve their issue. That means inviting them to come and take the next step. It might be visiting us, sending us an email or simply buying the product.

Your ideal customer isn’t just anyone who’s breathing. If it was, business would be simple.

Growing business sales can be so much more efficient if we avoid the shotgun approach and be really specific in identifying our target markets. Once we focus our marketing and sales energy in the right areas, business might not be simplistic, but it can be much easier.

Troy Media columnist David Fuller, MBA, is a certified professional business coach and author who helps business leaders ensure that their companies are successful. David is author of the book Profit Yourself HealthyEmail [email protected]

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