There’s a very smart concept in marketing called an ideal customer.
Some people call it a customer profile or a customer avatar. It’s a tool to help you visualize of the kind of person who is most likely to want/need to buy your thing – whatever that is.
Having an ideal customer is essential to having a clear focus for your business. When you create and market new products, visualizing your ideal customer helps you make sure that you are providing products that your customers want and need.
But, like with most marketing concepts that become trendy, people have started doing it wrong.
For many people, identifying your ideal customer has turned into a creative writing exercise instead of a marketing one. Instead of finding a real person who needs their help, they’re just making one up.
I was listening to a popular teacher business podcast the other day and the podcaster was talking about her customer avatar that she created. And she was going on about how “Susan” is 30 something with two kids and teaching fifth grade and blah blah blah.
Here’s the problem. Susan can’t buy your thing. Susan is imaginary. Imaginary people don’t have money and they certainly don’t buy your stuff.
This is one of the reasons that I don’t like the term “customer avatar”. The definition of avatar is an icon or figure that represents a particular person… and an ideal customer is certainly a representation of your customers as a group. But today most people think of an avatar as the picture that represents someone on social media – a picture that is certainly often not truthful or realistic.
REAL people buy your stuff.
It’s really easy to just make up a person in your head who you think will buy what you’re selling – but that’s not going to get you any sales. Unless you really understand the purpose of an ideal customer you’re just wasting your time. It’s putting the cart before the horse.
The purpose of an ideal customer is to first help you create and then validate your product – to confirm that there are people who really want and need what you’re offering. In an ideal world, you would know who your customer was before you ever start making anything – not making a thing and then imagining someone who will buy it.
You haven’t validated anything with a customer you made up.
Get out there. Go into the staff room and Facebook groups. Talk to people. Read your product reviews. Email your mailing list. Have a conversation with the people who really exist and who have real problems you can solve.
Those people – real people – are your ideal customers.
Do you have an ideal customer profile? Is it a real person?