As publisher of a local magazine, I’m often contacted by business owners wishing to book advertising without necessarily having a clear idea of what they’re trying to achieve. They may have little more than a sense that they ‘should’ advertise, as if that decision in itself would bring in new customers.
If only it were that simple! The fact is, even if you have the most beautifully designed advert, you could still end up with zero response. Even with a wonderful logo, or eye-catching photo, or compelling call to action, your efforts could come to naught unless you first ask yourself two important questions and are clear on the answers.
- Who is my ideal customer?
- What is my value proposition?
Once you have identified these two things, you’ll be able to place them at the heart of your advertising to maximise the likely response. Indeed, keeping their attributes foremost in your mind will help you plan any marketing activity and bring you better results.
Who is my ideal customer?
You might think: anyone could use my products, so why try be restrictive? Because when it comes to marketing, we are more likely to notice something specific – something that sparks our interest, that means something to us, and that we can identify with.
Nor is your ideal customer necessarily who you think you’d like to have on your books. It’s hard to avoid falling into that trap when starting a new business, but you can always review your initial beliefs further down the line to refine what is sometimes called your ‘customer avatar’.
The easiest way to grow your business is to look at your current customers, and identify those you’d like more of.
Points to look at include:
- Which buy the most from you, in terms of value or frequency?
- Which are the easiest to service or most agreeable to work with?
- Which are the most likely to buy again, or be responsive to new products or services?
- Which are the best fit with your values?
This exercise will demonstrate who are your current ‘best customers’. The next step is to look at the attributes of those you have identified.
- Do they tend to be large or small businesses?
- Are they individuals with new start-ups, or established companies?
- Is geographical location largely irrelevant, or is it preferable for them to be local?
- Are there any recurring patterns with the people involved: are they mostly young, middle aged or older; newly qualified, on their 3rd career or retired; male or female; parents or carers; of a particular educational background or level of income?
Following these steps will help you understand the likely interests, habits and behaviours of your ideal customer, which in turn will enable you to target your marketing accordingly.
Knowing your ‘who’ is key to learning how and where you can reach similar potential customers, anticipate their needs and provide the solution they are looking for.
What is my value proposition?
Your value proposition is what you bring to the party: how you actually benefit your customers, what value you bring them, how you enhance their life in some way. This is a more nuanced concept than simply what service or product you sell: it’s even more broad than your ‘unique selling point’. In fact, it deserves a whole separate blog post so I’m going to save this subject for another day.
In the meantime, have fun with your ‘who‘ exercise and check back here soon for the ‘what‘!
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