Why you need an ideal customer persona

The more you know about your ideal customer, the more able you are to attract her and get her to call you.

The more you know about your ideal customer, the more able you are to attract her and get her to call you.

You need to create an ideal customer persona. A persona is a list of your ideal customer’s traits or characteristics. The more you know about your ideal customer, the more able you are to publish content that attracts her and gets her to call you. Your ideal customer persona should include these traits:

  • What does she think of your profession?
  • How much decision-making authority does she have?
  • What is her pain point, and how can you solve it?
  • What is her experience working with your competitors?
  • What does a best-case scenario look like to her?
  • How much formal education does she have?
  • Where does she get her information?

Define your ideal customer

I am defining ideal customer here. Despite the 76 million responses I received when I Googled ideal customer, I am proposing you accept this simple definition. Your ideal customer is the person who wants to buy what you are selling. Simple enough? My examples of an ideal customer will cover these three traits:

  • What does she think of your profession?
  • How much decision-making authority does she have?
  • What is her pain point, and how can you solve it?

You are creating your ideal customer

Perhaps you are starting your business, reentering the workforce, or taking over marketing responsibilities at work. You have a target market. This ideal customer persona further refines your target market.

For example, suppose you just purchased an assisted-living home. This is a place where loved ones take their parents to live when their parents can no longer live at home or care for themselves.

  • Your target market may be a 40-60-year-old woman in Northern California. She works for a large healthcare provider. Applying this to your ideal customer persona, you can add What does she think of my profession? Her parents raised her. She is returning the favor. She does not need you or the service you offer, she thinks.
  • Your target market earns $100,000 a year or more. She is a vice president. Applying this to your ideal customer persona, you can add, How much decision-making authority does she have? She must be great when making decisions and getting others’ buy-in. After all, she’s a vice president.
  • Your target market travels internationally at least 10 days per month. She always carries her passport. Applying this to your ideal customer persona, you can add, What is her pain point, and how can you solve it? She feels guilty about leaving her parents home alone so often. She needs a place where Mom can feel safe, warm, and loved every day. Your ideal customer cannot provide that. Can you?

Your ideal customer is already a customer

Perhaps you are already running a business or doing the marketing, but the whole Internet marketing concept is something new to you. A friend handed you Attract your ideal customer: A workbook for making more money and told you to read it cover-to-cover. You want better results. You want to spend less. Newspaper, magazine, and phone book ads are not generating a strong enough return. You saw ideal customer in the title. This sounds appealing.

Perhaps your ideal customer is already a customer. Look at the customers you attract. What common traits do they share? Apply the 80/20 rule: 80% of your income comes from 20% of your customers. Ask these additional questions about the 20% that keeps you in business:

  • What is her gender?
  • What is her age range?
  • How much education does she have?
  • What does she do in her free time?
  • Where does she get her information?

Create a composite. You can even give her (or him) a name. You are so fortunate that you already have people on your customer list. Find the traits they have in common. You are attracting those traits. They are part of your ideal customer persona.
I’m sure you’ve noticed that I am referring to your ideal customer in the feminine. That is intentional. Most of my customers have a woman owner or as my contact. If your ideal customer is a man, change the gender.

Ideal customer: Valerie

What does your ideal customer look like?

What does your ideal customer look like?

I have an ideal customer. Shortly after I defined my ideal customer, I started attracting her and others who were close to the definition. I no longer attracted random people who were not serious. That happened because I was no longer publishing content for random people—I was publishing content targeted for my ideal customer.
My ideal customer is age 40-70. She manages an assisted-living home. Work frustrates her. She thinks the world is moving too fast. She cannot put sufficient time and energy into everything she wants to do.

My ideal customer is not “someone who pays the bill on time.” “Funny, funny, funny,” you may say. I stopped counting how many business owners have told me their ideal customer is someone who pays the bill on time. You have to be more specific.

We can apply the three traits above to my ideal customer, Valerie. Maybe, as you read these, you will find some traits that define you.

  • What does Valerie think of my profession? Valerie thinks she can do my job. She has Internet access and visits Facebook every day at work. She thinks she can promote her assisted-living home on Facebook. “Why hire someone else?” she says. “It doesn’t look that tough.” She has friends at the local hospitals. They send her referrals. Most of the referrals pass the resident qualification process. Valerie is happy doing business with any resident or family member “who pays the bill on time.” This is how she keeps the doors open.
  • How much decision-making authority does Valerie have? Valerie makes logistical decisions. She sets schedules, helps the residents eat, and keeps the business operating. She does not have authority to sign contracts, hire staff, or spend more than $500. Valerie wants to prove her value to the owner. She knows this is a long campaign. Any mistakes will surely catch the owner’s eye. Regardless, as I said, Valerie does not sign contracts or pay the bills. I have to remember that when writing proposals. Somebody else will read and sign them. Do you see this, too? One person is your contact but another makes the big decisions?
  • What is Valerie’s pain point and how can I solve it? According to Valerie, the owner thinks she spends too much time web-surfing. Valerie has not convinced him she can generate income. Her ideas to improve the home’s image, improve its occupancy rate, and do “the Internet marketing thing” are vague. She told the owner she could attract more customers online, but has not been successful. The owner thinks she is not competent at marketing. She is at a loss. She is preoccupied with day-to-day administrative tasks. She works 50 hours a week. She feels she never catches up with the workload. If she (they) hired me, I would do “the Internet marketing thing.” Valerie could run the home. That is where she excels.

Maybe you are Valerie. Maybe you are the owner.

Ideal customer: Mattie

What does your ideal customer look like?

What does your ideal customer look like?

I met Mattie a few years back. I presented my social media speech. Mattie walked up afterward, shook my hand and thanked me for the information. “That was great,” she said. “I can’t wait until I get back to my desk and do everything you do.”

I think this answers my first question: What does Mattie think of my profession? She thinks she can attend a 20-minute speech and do my job. Do you get this, too? You give people some information and they decide they can do your job?

Two years later, my phone rang. It was Mattie. She said she thought she could do her company’s website and social media herself. Day-to-day tasks have taken too much time and energy. Could I visit her office?

I visited Mattie twice. On the second visit, I presented a proposal to build her website, publish content, and establish her company’s social media presence. She read the proposal and said, “This is great. You and I think the same way. Can I show this to my mom?”
I think this answers my second question, How much decision-making authority does Mattie have? Mattie runs the office, but her mom signs contracts and checks. Mattie has to get Mom’s okay.

Mattie’s mom said yes.

I started working there. Within a few months, we had a website up and running. We had sufficient content. We built a respectable social media presence. Mattie runs a dental lab. They make fake teeth. Their work is beautiful. Anyone who finds Mattie’s company online will see the beautiful work they do.

I found out why Mattie called. Mattie realized long-term customers were not calling. They were dropping off the books. She was not attracting enough new customers to offset the ones who had stopped calling. She had to downsize staff and ask the survivors to forego pay raises.

I think this answers the third question, What pain point does Mattie have, and how can I solve it? Mattie’s company was losing customers and revenue. They realized their old marketing tactics were not working. They called me and asked me to create their online presence. I built their website, published their content, and established the company’s social media presence.

Business has improved. Last time I checked, they rehired staff. Mattie and her mom were happy, because revenues increased $10,000/month. Even though, as the manager of a dental lab, Mattie does not exactly meet my ideal customer persona, she is pretty close. I saw how I could help. We engaged. I helped her business. Lord knows where they would be if they had waited longer before trying “the Internet marketing thing.”

Which comes first? Money or the Internet marketing thing?

That phrase, “the Internet marketing thing,” is not mine. A prospect said that one day and it stuck. She said she would do “the Internet marketing thing” after she “got some money.”

I kid you not.

That brings up a big question: Where should you start? You have two choices:

  • You can accumulate enough money to launch an Internet marketing campaign. On the UP side, this makes sense. Make sure you have the money before you spend it. On the DOWN side, you probably do not have enough money because your marketing is failing.
  • Launch your Internet marketing campaign. You have to promote your business if you want to attract customers. They have to know you exist and you can solve their pain point. On the UP side, your returns can easily outweigh your investment. On the DOWN side, you could incur more debt and unpaid bills.

I am advocating the second approach: Launch your Internet marketing campaign. Take a chance. Every campaign requires faith. Make sure the potential return outweighs the risk. You are running a business. You have to move your business forward. You market your services to generate leads and you convert leads into customers. Customers pay you.

I confess my bias. I take intelligent risks when the potential return is great enough. As I mentioned earlier, my girlfriend and I drove 2,000 miles and relocated to Northern California. I restarted my business with a cell phone and a Honda Civic. Business owners take intelligent risks when the potential return is great enough. Do you?

Perhaps you’re wondering what happened to my prospect who declined “the Internet marketing thing.” She had a personal bankruptcy and her company had a corporate bankruptcy, both in the same year. Don’t let this be you.

Ideal customer: Erin

Learn about your ideal customer's ideal customer. That will make you more valuable.

Learn about your ideal customer’s ideal customer. That will make you more valuable.

My last example is of someone else, named James. James is an attorney who specializes in estates, trusts, and wills. We talked one day and created his ideal customer persona. We are targeting his ideal customer, Erin.

  • What does Erin think of his profession? Erin thinks she can buy a $29 software package online and create a family trust. “Why pay a lawyer $1,500 to create a document I can buy for $29?” Erin says. “Lawyers are for corporations.”
  • How much decision-making authority does Erin have? Although Erin is the treasurer at work, this is a personal matter. Her parents trust her. They know she likes munching numbers and always has. She can figure out the legalese in the $29 forms package. Her parents trust Erin more than they trust each other. However, Erin does not have power of attorney.
  • What is Erin’s pain point and how can James solve it? Erin wants to protect her parents’ assets. She sees both parents’ declining health. She wants to make sure medical costs do not deplete her parents’ assets, should they go into an assisted-living home. She has visited some assisted-living homes, but she has not convinced her parents they should move into one. They are too resistant. Erin visits them at their home three times a week to make sure they are okay. These visits take time and energy away from Erin’s family and career. James can help create a trust that will work in California and is appropriate for her parents’ situation. A rock-solid trust will grant Erin power of attorney. She could move her parents into an assisted-living home if their condition declines further. She could have more time and energy. She could enjoy her family. She could grow her career.

Maybe you are Erin. Maybe Erin is walking in your door.

The more you know about your ideal customer, the more able you are to publish content that attracts her and gets her to call you. I presented Valerie, Mattie, and Erin. Any questions?

Are there enough ideal customers nearby?

Can your geographical market support your ideal customer? You need to know how many ideal customers exist nearby. You can check licensing status online.
As we’ve established, my ideal customer runs an assisted-living home. In California, we call these Residential Care Facilities for the Elderly (RCFEs). I target the six-county area surrounding Sacramento. One day, in researching my ideal customer online, I discovered through the California Department of Social Services website how many RCFEs are in the Sacramento six-county area. Here is what I learned:

  • Amador County: six facilities
  • El Dorado County: 36 facilities
  • Nevada County: 15 facilities
  • Placer County: 179 facilities
  • Sacramento County: More than 250 facilities
  • Solano County: 156 facilities

Is the six-county area surrounding Sacramento attractive enough? This area has more than 642 RCFEs. Amador, El Dorado, and Nevada Counties, although closer, do not have enough RCFEs. Placer, Sacramento, and Solano Counties have more. The grass is greener there.

After you identify your ideal customer, ask if your market has enough businesses to support your niche. The California Department of Consumer Affairs lets you choose a profession and then search for a company or person. I searched Sacramento County alone and found:

  • 135 acupuncture licensees
  • 185 hearing aid dispenser licensees
  • 476 real estate appraiser licensees
  • 870 private investigator licensees
  • 643 veterinarian/veterinary hospital licensees

I kid you not. If you have a service that appeals to private investigators, come visit Sacramento. You have 870 prospects here.

Some results, such as the veterinarians/veterinary hospitals list, show license status. Most show Clear. Others show Cancelled, Delinquent, or Revoked. Target those whose license status is Clear. They are most likely to still be in business. Other states provide this information, too. Washington, Oregon, and Nevada all publish licensee data online.

You need to know how many ideal customers exist in your geographical market. Then ask if that number is enough to support your business. You might sell an air conditioner in Anchorage, but you’ll have more success in Phoenix.

Customers who are not ideal are still desirable

I have a restaurant owner customer. I am not targeting restaurants. However, the owner found me online last year. My marketing just happened to attract her and get her to call. She asked me to create her websites and run her social media. When you get your online marketing in gear, you may see the same thing. Prospects who do not meet your ideal customer persona will still call. You have attracted them. Even though they are not your ideal customer, they are attractive. Engage them.

Content from Attract your ideal customer: A workbook for making more money © 2014 Mark Anthony Germanos and appearing at http://yourseowizard.com/10-things-ideal-customer/