How to Reach the Ideal Customer

In our previous posts we looked at consumer and business market segmentation. Now we have a good idea of the variety of segmentation factors that create our ideal customer.  The business and consumer segments are slightly different in nature. What we have learned so far shines a good light upon our ideal customer’s behaviors, location, and a variety of other macro-economic/psychological segments. 

With this information, we know who the ideal customer is, but we need to determine how to reach them.  The best way to target an advertising campaign is to take our customer definition and expand upon that to further describe the customer and their behavior. We have discussed the segments for consumers and business, but we need to determine their purchasing behavior. 

As we look at targeting this segment, we need to determine how to reach them with our marketing and how to get them to take an action like making a phone call or purchase. 

We need to answer the following questions, which in most cases are applicable in both B2C and B2B targeting efforts:

1)       Where do customers spend time?

2)      What things do customers read?

  1. Are these online or offline?

3)      Where do customers start their research?

4)      What is the problem or need they are looking for?

5)      What would their benefit be from finding a solution?

6)      Do these customers make purchases like this by impulse or are they calculated?

7)      Do these customers look for referrals or recommendations from friends or business partners?

8)      What is the approval process?

  1. Would a husband need a wife’s permission?
  2. Would a Marketing Director need Board approval?

Now that we know the questions, let’s answer them for each business type.

Let’s start with a business that targets consumers.  Our example company will be a high end used vehicle dealer, who specializes in premium makes and models of sports cars.  Our ideal customer is defined as the following:

  • Male, 24-35
  • Some level of Higher Education
  • Annual Income of $45,000 or more
  • Single or Newly Married, but No Children
  • Lives within 50 miles of our dealership
  • Personality that wants to show off themselves and have a vehicle as a status symbol

That information is very useful.  With that information, we can answer the following questions easily.

Where do customers spend time?

Customer most likely has a fast-paced lifestyle that is very work-heavy.  With that understanding the customer is likely to spend much time eating out at restaurants.  

What things do customers read?

With being on the go, this customer most likely spends time reading news and information online.  Likely interest topics include vacation destinations, sports, social media sites, and online dating.

Where do customers start their research?

Most likely customers for products of this nature will start their search online.  Their research will begin with looking at various makes and models of vehicles, watching online videos of the vehicles, and researching performance.  From there they will target down purchase options based on availability and dealership location.

What is the problem or need they are looking for?

They are looking for a vehicle to increase their self-confidence, self-worth, and status.  They are likely looking for premium brands, but realize they cannot afford a new vehicle of that type.  They will look for the best possible used option that still fulfills their psychological need.

What would their benefit be from finding a solution?

Customer would benefit from getting a premium vehicle at a lower cost.  This would meet their budget requirements and still meet their psychological aspirations.

Do these customers make purchases like this by impulse?

Customers, who are likely to purchase are a combination of impulsive and detailed in their research.  Their behavioral and psychographic is that of our ideal customer.  These customers are more likely to make a purchase decision.  Ideal customer is fulfilled by feeling filled with self-confidence and status.  If sales and marketing efforts can make them feel ‘boosted’ they are more likely to make a quicker purchase decision. 

Do these customers look for referrals or recommendations from friends or business partners?

Customers will likely look online for information about vehicles, but will be rather isolated in asking for others opinions or referring the dealership to others as they are more inwardly focused on themselves.

What is the approval process?

Within the targeted customer demographic, the approval process is likely conducted by themselves.  While they may be married, it is likely that the targeted consumer will make a purchase without fully discussing or getting approval from their wife or partner. 

With answering these questions, we have a firmer understanding of our customers buying behavior.  This is important to know what marketing efforts to pursue in order to reach your customer.  You cannot open your business doors and just expect consumers to come.  They need to find you and become aware of your service or products in a way that fulfils their variety of needs.  With this information, we can develop customer personas.  These are profiles for your specific segments of customers.

With an understanding of how the process works to target consumers, we can enter targeting business customers with an existing understanding of the overall positioning.

For this next exercise, as we go over these questions once more, we will be launching a printer sales company.  Our example company, who specializes in high usage printers and copiers.  Our ideal customer is defined as the following:

  • Business with over 20 Employees
  • Annual Budget of over $32,000 for Printing
  • Services Based Business with a Large Print Volume
    • Legal, Accounting, and Business Services
  • Geographically within 45 Miles of Warehouse
  • Not Green with Paper Usage out of Necessity
  • Business Manager or Financial Manager, who is tasked with Lowering Costs

It is clear from this that we are targeting small businesses, engaged in professional services, who must print a large volume of documents. With a high volume of printing, our products could save them in the long run on toner costs. This will satisfy the need for the business and the role of manager.

Where do customers spend time?

Statistics show that most firms that specialize in some form of professional service are members of their local Chamber of Commerce.  Business managers frequently spend time at networking events held by the Chamber of Commerce.  While they are there, they are actively looking for people to have as their client or vendors that could make their business easier or more profitable.

What things do customers read?

Customers are likely to read industry magazines, which is not a good target for our business to advertise in with geographical constraints.  Customers also read magazines and mailers put out by the local Chamber of Commerce and Business Journal.  Targeting these local print items that our customers read is more likely to result in an action.

Where do customers start their research?

When looking for a vendor to lower costs or solve a problem, these customers mostly likely look to their Chamber of Commerce for recommendations and referrals.  From there, online research is preformed and colleagues are consulted.

What is the problem or need they are looking for?

Customers are looking to lower their budget and increase profits.  They cannot free themselves from items they need to have, but they are actively looking for ways to lower the cost for these operational needs.

What would their benefit be from finding a solution?

Customers would benefit greatly from finding a solution that saves them money for a resource that they use at a high volume.  Saving two cents per page by using our copiers will save them thousands of dollars per year.  By reducing costs, they can realize a higher return on investment.

Do these customers make purchases like this by impulse?

Customers in our targeted segment, do not purchase these items on impulse.  It can take several weeks or more for a purchase decision.  These items take a larger capital investment initially, but with a long-term return.

Do these customers look for referrals or recommendations from friends or business partners?

The targeted customers rely heavily on referrals and recommendations from other businesses and organizations.  They put a lot of weight on referrals from their local Chamber of Commerce and other fellow members.

What is the approval process?

Customers on the management level may be able to approve a purchase themselves or purchase with an owner’s approval.  Unlike a larger company, the approval process for this targeted customer group is, they are small and decisions can be made more quickly.

From reviewing this information, a few key marketing components become evident.  We need to join the local Chamber of Commerce, participate in events, advertise in local business journals, and work to build up a referral network. Create a rewards program for customers referring new customers will also increase sales.

Without us reviewing the ideal customer and their behavior, we might have advertised in industry magazines.  Even though our potential customers read them, the geographical segment is much larger than our service area.  It would not be the best utilization of our marketing dollars since we are targeting a specific customer in a specific region. 

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