As Seen in AMEX Open forum, USA Today, The Charlotte Observer, America's Premier Experts, the Daily

As Seen in AMEX Open forum, USA Today, The Charlotte Observer, America's Premier Experts, the Daily

Friday, January 4, 2013

Who is your ideal customer? Part 1 of 3

When was the last time you clearly defined your ideal customer?  Here are 8 steps to define your separate niches. 

The market you sell in is not a mass entity   It is made of distinct people with different needs and desires. 

Who are these people? And what did I say or offer that brought each them here?

Knowing who your ideal niche is will help when it comes time to evaluating your marketing strategy and how you plan to roll out the product to the niche.

Don't roll the product out to the "market."  That's expensive and not everyone is your customer.  You want to roll it out to a niche... a specific niche... the most profitable niche.

Defining and separating your niches will also help you decide which niche to market to first.   

Get out a few pieces of paper, one page for each segment.  Try to think from the customer's perspective as you answer these questions for EACH niche:

1)  Who is your ideal customer?  

What sex are they?
How old are they?
How much money do they have?
Are there any add-on products or activities that they need to own or do to take full advantage of your offering?
Where are they in their career?

For example, women over 60 with disposable income who like to golf and are about to retire.... small business owners in the plumbing industry that are in their 40's who want to grow their business but don't have lots of time or disposable income...  Start-ups with 30 or more people that have had problems with getting their SEO optimized after the latest Penguin updates...

2) What are the pain points for this niche?  

For example, they don't have enough time with their kids, they want more money, they are disappointed that they haven't been promoted, they want to loose weight, they are sensitive about their appearance, etc

3) How would using your product affect their lives specifically? Which pain points does your product alleviate?

Are these benefits members of the niche would pay good money for?

4) Who are the connectors in this niche group? 

For example, in my first company, I made a fitness product that helps you dance in running shoes without hurting your knees.   A connector in one of our niches was dance-fitness instructors.  These individuals weren't direct consumers of our product because they danced in dance shoes and not running shoes, but they were connectors and were in contact with people who were ideal customers for us.  

5) Do the connectors or the members of the niche group communicate together? 

Do these connectors attend conferences? Do they read the same media outlets blogs/websites/websites?

5) How many members of the niche are there?  

IE how big is this slice of the market?

6) How big is the connector group in this specific niche relative to the total number of members in a niche?  

For example, are there 20,000 connectors who reach 4 million people?

7) Which (if any) social media outlet does this niche favor?  

Pinterest/Google+/Facebook/ LinkedIn/Twitter?

8) Are there any people that this niche looks up to?   

What would getting a celebrity or industry group endorsement do for you?  How expensive would those be to get?

To sell a product, you have to solve a need.  If you don't know what the needs of the customer are, in the customer's words, not yours, then you'll have a tough time convincing them that buying your product is the solution they've been looking for.

The total number of people who need your product might be quite large, but each individual niche might need to be convinced in a separate way if the needs of the various niches don't overlap. 

For example, maybe you could sell direct to consumer, but you also want distributors to buy your product.   These groups are very different and their motivations are quite different too.   Which one is the best to go after first?  Well, that's the next step that I will cover in the next few days.

Questions? Comments?  Did I forget something important?  Let me know in the comments below!

Part 2
Part 3


  1. Your article is so so true. So many times I hear that "everyone" will buy this; it sells itself; everyone needs this; blah, blah, blah. One tactic I've used to narrow down who my ideal customer might be is to use a "like me" phrase (I sell to people who want to lose weight - like me; or my customers are people who want nice skin - like me.) You sell what you sell for a reason and communicating with people like yourself makes it a lot easier to relate.

    1. I love that "like me" phrase. It certainly clues you in to whether you understand the motivations of your customers! Good suggestion.


  2. Great post Katie, my ideal customer is the struggling marketer but when I realized that everybody and his mamma was trying to sell to that niche I further investigated another segment of that niche and it is working for me because I am that niche and had overcome the struggling part. Asking the right questions helped me define my customer.

    1. Lydia,
      It is true that lots of people focus on those struggling marketers. It sounds like you used the "like me" to your advantage too. Congratulations on going far enough to recognize the first niche wasn't good enough for your business to target and doing the work to find a segment that really works for your business!