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All too often, marketers and salespeople think: “A customer is a customer. Any sale is a good sale.” It’s time to break free from that mindset. In reality, there is a stark difference between an ideal customer and less-than-ideal customers.

Master Sales Series is back to explore Finding your Ideal Customer. Our host, George Leith, walks through six steps in finding your ideal customer.

  1. Brainstorming
  2. Surveying existing clients
  3. Digging through Google Analytics
  4. Social listening
  5. Social media analytics
  6. Spy on your competitors

Join the conversation in the Conquer Local Community and keep the learning going in the Conquer Local Academy

Introduction

George: Welcome to season four of the Conquer Local Podcast. Most overused acronym of the last half of 2020, ICP, the ideal customer profile. And we are going to take you through six steps for your organization to identify who your ideal customer profile is for success in 2021. Six steps to finding your ICP, ideal customer profile, coming up next on the Conquer Local Podcast.

Understand Your Ideal Customer

I’ve saw a common theme, or maybe heard a common theme, or read a common theme over the last few months. Everybody’s talking about ideal customer profile. And when I first heard it, I’m like, okay, persona? I don’t necessarily believe that it’s persona. We’ll talk about that in a few moments. It’s around looking at who is the right customer. I heard something a few years back is customer selection. And I’m like, “yeah, do they have a pulse? Go sell them?” But that might not be the best approach. The best approach is finding where you’re very very successful in solving that customer’s problem, reverse engineering why you’re successful at it, and then going out and finding out other customers that are ideal customer profiles. And, you know, this is where we want to talk about, is it a profitable customer? Is it somebody… Because at the end of the day you’re running that business to generate value, shareholder value, if you’re, if you own it yourself, you’re the lone shareholder, or maybe you work for a company, there are shareholders.

So they’re looking to grow the value of their business. But then there also is this thing that’s really really frustrating. And that is where you take someone who isn’t your ideal customer, and you force them to be your customer. Because you’re a really good salesperson, and you’re good at dealing with objections, and you’re good at pivoting, and spin, spin, spin. You’re like, “no, I’m going to make this work.” And really at the end of the day, when you look back at it, and you say, “hey, would you sign that customer again?” The answer is a resounding, no. Or it is kind of a wince because of the pain that goes through your being of all of the grief that you’ve had, in trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. Have you ever done that? It’s hard. To get a square peg into a round, but with a big enough hammer, it could be done. So why not use the hammer? Why not be more strategic? Why not be more focused? And by the way, it actually might be not as hard, which is kind of fun, where you take some of the toil out of it.

So first off, the first step, and the first strategy is you figure out who you should serve, is some old fashioned brainstorming. I want you to brainstorm the problems of your ideal customer. It’s the first step in defining who you serve. Ask yourself, what specific problem am I trying to solve for this customer? And then do I, do I knock it out of the park? Like is this something that I truly have figured out. Once you’ve determined your problem you want to be thinking about the gender, the age, the interests, the hobbies, the occupation, where they’re located, relevant behaviors. Because I think what we have, we have is if we’re selling solutions and we’re good at it, we’re like, “oh, I could sell this to anybody.” But there’s a lot of toil in there, it’s called spinning cycles. And when you spin cycles at the end of the day there should be some sort of outcome. And we’re in business, right? So it’s an economic outcome, where you’re solving the customer’s problem, they reward you by paying you an amount, and that amount has profit. And then that profit goes to building the value of your organization. So that’s why this is so important.

Survey your existing customers or clients, as a way to find out who they are. So this is interesting. Ask questions about their demographics. Ask probing questions about key issues and problems that they face, so you can better define your value proposition. Ask a simple question about, why do you work with us? What do you like? What do you not like? What could we do better? And then include how and where your existing customers found out about you. So this is what channel you might use to find those customers. Imagine if you found that all the money that you’re spending on Demand Gen, isn’t exactly how your ideal customers found you. And you could take that budget and move it in, in a place, this happens all the time by the way. It happens with the people that we sell solutions to our end users. While we’re over here just lighting money on fire, doing some stuff, and we find out afterwards, “oh, I could have just found 20 more customers by doing this thing.” Dig into your Google Analytics. Your website analytics can provide a wealth of valuable information for helping you pinpoint your target audience. It’s the number one way you can figure out exactly who you serve. So you look at GA, Google Analytics, and you go, “okay, who are coming? Who were spending the most time on our website? What page are they spending the most time on? Are they converting on the form fill at the bottom of that website? Have they downloaded the piece of content? Did they actually read the piece of content? When I get them on the phone to ask them about the content do they ask me relevant questions?” So by using Google Analytics, you can find some metrics that you might want to dig into deeper, and then learn who has purchased in the past, and then reverse engineer how they came to you. That’s how you figure out what the buyer’s journey is, of your ideal customer profile.

Oh, by the way, how did they get to your website? It’s always an interesting question. You got all this website traffic, but did they just magically find it in the middle of the desert? No, there were some things that prompted them to end up at the website. It’s important to find out what that is, so that you can pour some gas onto that as well. And then we’ve got social listening. The strategies above are great. So first off, we’re going to figure out who the ideal customer is, we’re going to survey our existing customers, we’re going to dig into Google Analytics. But maybe we should be listening around in our environment through social to see how competitors might be solving those problems, to find maybe adjacent opportunity.

You know, we live in a world where as a channel partner you can do a lot of things, right? You can sell e-commerce websites, you can put G-Suite into those clients, or Microsoft 365. We’ve heard from experts how you’ll be able to offer cyber security in the coming months. So by doing some of that social media listening, you can listen to industry groups, and find out other problems of your ideal customer profiles.

Most major social networking sites provide a way for you to analyze your existing audience. They have built in analytics tools, and by the way, they have their own. So Facebook Page Insights, Twitter Analytics, Instagram Insights, Pinterest, LinkedIn, all of those social media platforms have analytics. LinkedIn has a form tool inside their platform where they just capture the lead right inside LinkedIn. They don’t even have to go fill out a form on the website. So, yes, GA is very, very important, Google Analytics, but they’re also are social media analytics on every platform that you’re using, to attract those ideal customer profiles.
So when you find out who you’re currently serving, and how to attract like-minded people in the future, you want to pay attention to your audience demographics. Your content formats to get the most reach and engagement. Is it text? Is it images? Is it videos or links? And the most popular topics, and then the most popular networks. So you may attract a lot of customers on Twitter. But yet you don’t like Twitter, because you don’t use it. But that doesn’t mean that that’s where your ideal customer profile lives. So it’s important to understand the social media network that your ideal customer profile finds value in. And then we want to understand the key features about the audience like, who are they? What are they like? And where do they hang out? That bottom one is really important. Where do they spend their time? Where are the eyeballs? And that’s a complex question nowadays. We’re not living in the horse and buggy days, of they listen to the local radio station, they read the local newspaper, they use the local yellow pages to find out how to get to the business, or whether it was open. Now they could be everywhere. Those eyeballs could be in lots of different places. So where do they like to hang out is, where are the eyeballs? So that we can then start to put your message in front of more people that look like, look alike audiences, that look like the ideal customer profile.

And then we want to spy on our competitors. This is something that I really like. I love spying on competitors, it’s never been easier to do this. I remember back in the radio days, we would actually hire somebody to listen to the competitor radio stations from 6:00 AM to 9:00 AM, and write down every ad that they heard. That was really complex spy tactics. Like we were really using a lot of tech there. Just a human being, and an ear, and a pen. But sometimes it’s helpful to supplement all of the information that you’ve gleaned from the other tactics that we’ve talked about, with information about your competitors. And I know that those competitors keep you awake at night. You want to know that they’re in the rear view mirror, and you want to learn enough about them to keep them in the rear view mirror. That’s where I get to use like a race car analogy. Imagine if you were in a race car camp, and you found out that your competitors camp had some new technology that they were deploying to make them two miles an hour faster than you. They’re not going to be in your rear view mirror much longer with that because it’s very competitive. Race cars are very competitive. So by knowing that one little thing, you might be able to adapt, to capture more of those ideal customer profiles.

So one of the best ways to learn about your competitors and to spy, is to look at their lead magnets, the freebies that they offer, the mouse traps that are out there. Deduce who they’re trying to attract. Why are they offering a free cookbook? Is that because their target audience are busy moms and dads, and they would like to do more cooking, because they’re at home? You know, it doesn’t matter what it is, but it gives you an idea as to their target audience, and how to adapt to get more of your ideal customer profile. So just a few tactics on building out your ideal customer profile. Please don’t confuse it with persona, because I think inside every ideal customer profile there are numerous personas that you need to understand. Who are the people that are making the buying decision, inside that ideal customer profile. So you may be really good at targeting chiropractors. But the one thing I know about chiropractors, I don’t think the doctors that are owning the chiropractic office make the decisions around the tech stack, or even marketing. There’s usually have an office manager that’s tasked with that. So that’s that idea of the persona. Maybe the chiropractor are the influencer, or the owner is the influencer, but there is that persona. So that’s different. Ideal customer profile is the customer that you do a really good job at serving. And then you’ve got the various personas inside that ideal customer profile, where you might have different language on how to move the deal across the line.

Keep in mind when you try to serve everyone, you end up serving no one. There is a unique group of people out there, clients who desperately need what you have to offer. And we may be, it’s not that we’re wasting our time, because we are getting hopefully revenue out of other customers. But by chasing people who are not your ideal customer profile, you set yourself up for reputation damage, where that customer might say, “no, they don’t actually do those things they say they do,” because you’re not good at that customer profile. It allows you to double down on the customers that you’re really good at, and have that rinse-repeat model that can lead you to scalability.

Conclusion

Thanks for joining us, as we discuss the ideal customer profile. And producer, Colleen, wrote a lot of the content for this episode, did a great job on the research. So, if you would like to continue a conversation with her, and learn more about ideal customer profiles, please feel free to do so in the Conquer Local Community. And we’re looking for your feedback as we move forward. Did you like the last eight episodes or so, as we talked about various use cases? We’d love to get that feedback.