Your Customer Profile: How to Find Your Market Niche
Learn to define your target customers and create an ideal customer profile through careful analysis of your current customers.
How well do you understand your customers? What makes them buy your product or use your service? Who are they? If you know the answers to those questions, you can focus your marketing on developing that niche. If you don’t, it’s time to work on your customer profile.
What Is A Customer Profile?
When you’re starting a business, it’s tempting to consider the whole world as your customer. You want to sell to everybody, right? It’s a little counterintuitive, but that’s probably not the most effective strategy. Instead, you want to find your product’s niche. Say you want to open a yoga studio – what’s your niche?
The first step to finding your niche is looking around at other similar businesses in your area and finding an opportunity that isn’t being filled. It’s much easier to offer your prospective customers they want and aren’t already getting than it is to try to draw them away from existing businesses. In our yoga studio example, what’s the niche? Maybe the studios around you all cater to young professionals and older people don’t really utilize them. Perhaps you could fill that gap in the market.
This is where your customer profile comes in. You know that there aren’t any offerings for yoga focused on older people in your area. Now you need to know everything about that demographic so you can draw them in. You need to understand what motivates them, what will get them in the door, what they need from you as a business and more. Creating this profile will also help you decide if that niche is actually a good fit – it could turn out that older folks aren’t going to do yoga no matter what you do. That information combines to form your customer profile – an image of your ideal customer that you can use to target your marketing efforts and business plan.
Creating Your Customer Profile
Start With Your Current Customers
The first step in creating your customer profile is looking at your real-life customers. Who are they? What are their demographic characteristics – age, gender, race, socioeconomic status, where they live, etc.? What keeps them coming back to your business?
When you look at your current customers, see if you can find a common thread that unites them. It may be that you’re already targeting a particular customer profile without even meaning to. To return to our example, perhaps you’re already attracting older customers to your yoga studio.
When you’re investigating your current customers, pull in all the hard data you can find. That may include analytics data about who is using your website, traffic data in your store, and anything else you can find that will help you get a clearer idea of how people are using your business and what’s drawing them to you.
Try to reach out, either through email or social media, and casually assess why your customers use your business. Ask what they like about your products or services, and what can be improved. Ask how your business has improved their lives or solved problems. Customers can tell you exactly what they like and what they don’t. Listen to them!
If you’re not finding a common thread, it’s time to do some more research to determine what group of customers your business should focus on – your “ideal customer.”
Give Your Ideal Customer A Face
An ideal customer is an imaginary construct that you can use to inform your business and marketing decisions – a persona if you will. By creating an “ideal” profile or “persona,” you can target your ads, products, and services to attract and retain “ideal” customer loyalty.
To create a customer profile for your ideal customer, start with your niche. What customers fit into that niche? Flesh out all pieces of who that customer is, what makes them tick, and what makes them want to use your business above all others. In our yoga studio example, your niche is older people in your neighborhood. That means you’re going to aim your marketing efforts and class offerings to that demographic. For example, you might target retirees who like to be up early and are budget-conscious.
Data, Demographics, And Psychographics.
The better you know these facts about your customers, the more complete and useful your customer profile will be. You should know the age, gender, income, occupation, and marital status of your ideal customers – all of their basic demographic information. You also need to know the psychographic characteristics of your ideal customer. That may include spending habits, hobbies, and values. You need a combination of descriptive and behavioral information to get a complete image of your ideal customer.
Are You Happy With Your Customer Profile?
You’ve identified a niche and figure out what the customers who care about it are like. Now, consider whether you’re happy with that customer profile. Does this ideal customer have the interest and ability to buy products or services from your business? If you’re a brick & mortar establishment, are there enough people like your ideal customer nearby? Is it accessible to them?
Sometimes, you’ll nail down a niche and work out the ideal customer and find that there aren’t enough customers to keep your doors open. If that’s the case, it’s time to start looking for different niches and different ideal customers. Once you’ve found that perfect fit for an open niche and an attractive customer profile, you’re ready to go.
What Do You Do With Your Customer Profile?
Now that you know who you’re trying to get in the door, it’s time to put that knowledge to work.
Evaluate Your Business Plan
First, take a look at your business plan. Are your offerings catering to needs and wants that fit your customer profile? For example, you might consider offering early-bird classes or seniors-only classes at your yoga studio to cater to your older patrons. You might also adjust the classes themselves to be accessible and achievable for seniors.
This gives you a chance to evaluate every part of your business, from the décor to the products to the purchasing process, and make sure it fits with your customer profile.
Adjust Your Marketing Scheme
Once your business is set up to cater to your customer profile, it’s time to reach out to those customers! Your marketing content and strategy should be customized to your ideal customer. You’ll also use your profile to choose the best marketing channels for your business niche. Perhaps the profile for your yoga studio indicates that your ideal customer is a heavy Facebook user, but doesn’t use Twitter as much. You can use that information to get the most bang for your marketing buck – stick to Facebook and skip the Twitter spend.
As you make these adjustments, keep an eye on the data you’re bringing in. The key to a successful marketing scheme is a constant evaluation of your efforts. You can learn what works and what doesn’t so you don’t waste your time and energy on less-productive channels.
In addition, keep in touch with your old and new customers. Talk to them about what they like, what they don’t like, what they love about your business, and what they want you to change.
The Bottom Line
Marketing to the whole world is a tough way to find success. Instead, the trick is to find your business niche and the ideal customer that fits it. You can use the data you have about your current customers and the data you can find about your ideal customers to create a comprehensive customer profile. You can use that profile, in turn, to adjust your business model to better cater to those customers’ needs and to target your marketing efforts to the people you really want to bring through your door.