One of the critical success factors for entrepreneurs is being able to nail exactly who your customers are. Getting this right saves vast amount of time, resources and money. This case study recounts how one of my clients took this journey.
The client came to me and I asked her “So who are your target customers?” She told me that women, businessmen and students were her target market.
We were sitting in Starbucks at the time talking about her business plan. So I started pointing people out and asking if they would make good customers or not.
It was too pointed a demonstration, she blushed in embarrassment, and I realised that I had perhaps gone too far. Thankfully I hadn’t. She got the point and it was an important one. She was building a business to change the lives of her customers. She didn’t know who they were.
As the client was focusing on the B2C market I got out my checklist of questions about the ideal customer. This is about 200 questions long. Filling it in takes a while. We cheated that afternoon and recorded the conversation and then did the typing afterwards.
The reason it is two hundred questions long is that we want to see our customer personas as real people. If you are marketing or selling to a real person you connect better with them. You understand what they want, what their needs and beliefs are.
If they are a bunch of demographic data, or just a general category – student – as my client’s was – it’s really hard to create great value for them.
We worked through the questions. Then I took them away with me and read them over a couple of times before going to sleep on them.
The next morning I knew who the customer was. That’s a miracle of the subconscious. I found a photo on Google and gave him a name. Then reading the questions that we had answered the day before I wrote a biography for him. (For one customer I created a fake LinkedIn profile of his ideal customer).
We knew where he liked to shop. We knew the names of his kids and where he liked to go on holiday. We knew what he hated about his job and how likely he was to engage in an affair.
There were two clear outcomes for the client.
The first one was that she looked at the value proposition she was offering, then she looked at the customer persona. Then she said “Paul (the persona’s name) doesn’t like this. He doesn’t want that and I need to offer him this.”
How much effort and time had she just saved by really thinking about the customer’s needs?
The second outcome was that she went out and spent $100 on Facebook ads directly targeting the customer. She made initial sales. They validated that she had the right customer. Then as she made more sales she refined Paul even further. He even got a beard at some point.
He relentless focus on who her ideal customer is has meant that her business has gone from strength to strength.