Here’s a typical mistake…
Someone asks a new business owner who their target market is, and that business owners answers, “Everyone!”
Bzzt, wrong. No matter what you’re selling, you’ll never have “everyone” as your target market. That’s why you need to develop a customer profile, which is where you define your ideal customer.
Need proof that not “everyone” is part of your target market? Well, let’s consider that everyone needs to eat. So, that would seem to indicate that the target market for a grocery store is everyone.
But that’s not true.
For starters, only people who live within a certain radius of that store are part of the target market. And secondly, you’ll notice that different grocery stores are geared towards different types of customers.
If you need to see this for yourself, just stroll around a grocery store like Whole Foods for 15 minutes. Then head down the road to a Walmart super center that includes a grocery store. You’ll quickly see different prices, different atmospheres, different offerings, and different buying experiences between these two stores. That’s by design, not accident.
The same applies to your business…
If you’re selling weight loss books, not every dieter is part of your target market. If you’re selling dog training guides, not every dog owner is part of your market. If you’re selling online marketing information, not every online marketer is part of your target market.
I could go on and on, but you get the idea. The point is, you need to develop a customer profile.
In other words, you need to figure who your ideal customer is. Because once you do that, then you’ll be able to create content and products that are a good fit for your ideal customer. You’ll connect with your audience through every blog post, email and ad campaign. You’ll engage them on every level of your marketing and sales process.
End result? When you create content and products that your market is sure to love, you’ll see more sales, more customers, more market share, and a whole lot more profits.
You can see a lot of good reasons and benefits when you take this step. So, let’s turn our attention to HOW to create this customer profile…
Creating Your Customer Profile
Here’s the first thing to understand…
While not “everyone” is your target market, you probably will have more than one customer avatar. That is, you’ll focus on multiple smaller segments of your overall market.
What you need to do is talk to your market and research them in order to better understand them.
TIP: You can start sketching out your avatars based on certain assumptions, and fix those assumptions as you complete your research and interviews. However, don’t skip the research and interviewing. In other words, don’t make assumptions that you never intend to back up with data and research!
You’re going to want to understand your audience on the following seven levels:
3. Goals and Values.
5. Pain Points.
7. Information Sources.
What does all of this mean? And how do you determine each of these facets of a customer avatar?
You’ll find out the answers to these questions and more as we step through the process of determining how to define these facets.
As we go through this process, we’re going to look at one customer avatar as an example. For this example, we’ll look at people who are interested in getting nutrition and exercise information for weight loss.
Here are some of the customer avatars we could pursue:
1. A 30-year-old female who just had a baby and is looking to develop healthy nutrition and exercise habits as a means of losing weight.
2. A middle age man who’s had a health scare and wants to lose weight to avoid heart disease and diabetes.
3. A professional personal trainer who wants to expand his knowledge so he can better serve his clients to help them lose weight.
Two quick notes before we begin…
First, the process we’re about to walk through is an example of how to do an “in-depth” customer profile. At the end of this section, you’ll learn how to do an abbreviated profile, which doesn’t require as much surveying. However, an abbreviated profile is best for those who’ve been working in their niche for some time, and already have a pretty good understanding of their audience.
Secondly, because an in-depth profile does require you to survey your audience, we’re going to start with a crash course in surveying. Here’s what you need to know…
Utilize a reputable survey tool. A good example is SurveyMonkey.com, which lets you ask everything from multiple choice questions to open-ended questions. This software makes it easy to collect and analyze your results.
Use both multiple-choice and open-ended questions. You can use multiple choice questions for the demographic data, such as age, gender, income and so on. When you’re trying to understand how your audience thinks, feels, or behaves, then use open-ended questions so as not to artificially limit your respondents’ answers.
Avoid leading questions. In other words, you don’t want to ask biased questions which will skew your results. As the name implies, leading questions are those that tend to lead respondents towards a particular answer. Even asking questions in a certain order can skew your results, depending on what you’re asking.
Let me give you an example:
Leading question: What are your thoughts on marketing expert Jimmy D. Brown’s groundbreaking work with private label rights content?
Neutral question: What are your thoughts on Jimmy D. Brown’s work with private label rights content?
See the difference? The first question is leading, as it will undoubtedly slant answers in a positive way due to words like “expert” and “groundbreaking.” The second question will produce more neutral results.
Survey enough people to create a representative sample. If you survey too few people, then you won’t be getting an accurate representation of your audience as a whole. For example, there are about 300,000 personal trainers in the United States. If you survey three of them, then your results are not going to do a good job of being reflective of your entire population.
The more people you survey, the more confident you can be that your results are representative of the audience. For example, if you surveyed all 300,000 personal trainers, then you can be 100% confident that your results are truly representative of your audience.
But you don’t have the time, money, or means to track down every personal trainer and survey them. So, what you do is find the “sweet spot” – that’s the number of people to survey that’s enough to get your representative sample so that you’re confident about your results, yet not so many that you’re spending excess time and money that are resulting in diminishing returns.
What is the sweet spot? It will depend on your population size, how confident you want to be in the results, and what sort of margin of error you’re willing to deal with.
Fortunately, you don’t need to do any of these calculations yourself. Here’s a nifty sample-size calculator from Survey Monkey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/mp/sample-size-calculator/
For our 300,000 personal trainers, we’d need just 97 respondents for a confidence level of 95% and a margin of error of 10%.
Generally speaking, you should aim for about 100 survey respondents. That number may go up or down depending on the factors mentioned above. In general, however, you can even have a population of 10,000,000 and still need just 100 respondents (if you’re comfortable with a confidence level of 95% and margin of error of 10%). After 100 respondents, you won’t get much more in the way of useful information by surveying significantly more people.
So with this crash course out of the way, let’s now look at our in-depth profile.
We’ll use the weight loss example to walk through these seven facets of this profile (with a focus on the last avatar, the professional who wants to learn more in order to better serve his clients)…
You can find some of this information through a Google search (e.g., “personal trainer demographics, or “dog owner demographics” or “gardening demographics”). Just be sure that you’re pulling data from reputable sources, such as government research, research conducted by reputable organizations such as PEW research, research conducted by universities, and so on.
Secondly, you can confirm and better zero in on your target market by directly surveying your market. These are the sorts of demographics you’re after:
· Where your target market lives.
· Rent or own.
· Marital status.
· Whether your market has kids or not.
· Highest level of education obtained.
Let’s go back to our example for the nutrition/exercise market. The avatar for a personal trainer might be a 30-year-old male who’s single, has various certifications related to nutrition and exercise, and is making $35,000 (and is eager to earn more).
This pertains to the customer’s experience level in the niche. E.G., beginner? Intermediate? Advanced?
You may gather some of this information via demographical data. For example, you may discover whether the customer has a degree and career in the field. However, you’ll gather the best information by asking your market directly.
Questions to ask:
· Do you consider yourself a beginner, intermediate or expert in the field?
· How many years have you worked in this field?
· Do you have any educational background in the field (e.g., a related degree, certifications, etc.)?
· Tell me about your accolades, awards and other credentials in the field.
In our example, the customer avatar for our personal trainer is that he has three certifications in exercise and nutrition, he’s worked three years for a gym as one of their trainers, and he’s owned his own personal-training business for two years.
Thus, he has an intermediate level of knowledge (and he’s actively looking to become an expert).
Goals and Values
This information is all about what your customer wants (their goals) and what they’re committed to doing (their values).
Once again, you’ll need to survey or interview your audience to gather this information. Here are potential questions to ask:
· What are your goals [related to the niche]?
· What do you want [related to your niche]?
· What are your [niche-related] principles?
· What do you care most about with regards [to the niche]?
· What will you not stand for [with regards to the niche]?
For example, we may find that our personal trainer has goals to increase his income to the six-figure level, expand his business to a certain number of clients, hire or one or two trainers to work with him to expand his business… and buy his own gym in 10 years.
This trainer may value good work ethics, good business deals (where both parties feel like they got a good deal), and rewarding employees for a job well done.
The next thing you need to figure out is what motivates your prospects and customers (both personally and professionally). This is information that you’ll need to collect by directly surveying or interviewing your market.
NOTE: Some of this information is going to be highly related to the person’s goals. For example, if our personal trainer has a goal of opening his own gym in 10 years, then he’s going to be highly motivated to make as much money as possible now, start saving for the down payments, and building a good reputation and credit profile so it’s easier to borrow money in the future. The overall motivation may be to build a successful gym, and then take an early retirement (so he can spend more time traveling and with family) by selling the business.
Point is, be sure to consider the motivations in relation to the customer’s goals.
Questions to include:
· Where do you see yourself [with regards to the niche] in one year… five years… ten years?
· What are your reasons for wanting to [achieve some goal]?
· What do you NOT want to happen [with regards to your niche goals]? E.G., What negative outcomes scare you the most?
The next facet you need to determine through interviews and surveys is what your customer views as pain points and problems. Again, these will be related to your customer’s goals.
Ask questions like this:
· What challenges do you face [as you seek to meet your niche goals]?
· What problems slow you down [as you seek to meet your niche goals]?
· What do you find most frustrating [about something in the niche]?
Once again, let’s go back to the example of our personal trainer. Perhaps we find his challenges and pain points include being unable to differentiate himself from other personal trainers in his market and growing his business.
Knowing this, you’ll be able to create weight-loss programs that are brandable and unique, so that the personal trainer can get attention, get more clients, and grow his business.
Here we are talking your prospects potential objections to purchasing your product. No matter how “perfect” your product is, nearly every prospect is going to have an objection. Your job is to uncover these objections, so that you can do two things:
1. Create products that overcome these objections. (Not always possible.)
2. Create sales copy that raises and handles objections. (This is a must.)
One of the advantages face-to-face sales people have is that prospects will often state their objections during the sales process. Since you are likely selling online, you’ll need to figure out your prospect’s objections through interviews or surveys.
Here are questions to ask:
· What are your thoughts on this product?
· What don’t you like about this product?
· What are the reasons you would NOT buy this product?
Let’s go back to the example of our personal trainer who’s looking to purchase weight-loss information so he can expand his business. One of his objections may be that it takes too much time to go through an in-depth guide. You could solve this problem by making much of the content available as a downloadable .mp3, and then advertise that customers can save time by listening to the program in their car, at the gym, or even while doing household chores.
The final piece of information you need to gather to complete your customer avatar is where they get their information.
You can gather some of this information simply by researching the top products and platforms (blogs, social media accounts, newsletters) in your niche. However, you’ll want to directly ask your prospects and customers where they get your information.
Here are the questions to ask:
· Which [niche] blogs do you read and visit regularly?
· Which [niche] pages do you follow on social media?
· What [niche] books have you read?
· Where else do you get [niche-related] information?
Take note that there are some blogs and experts that almost everyone in your niche follows. What you’ll want to focus on is who your particular niche segment/avatar follows that differs from other segments in your market.
For example, maybe you discover that your personal trainer reads all the usual nutrition and exercise trade magazines. But what makes this segment of your market different is that this trainer follows professionals who teach group-training techniques. This tells you that if you design a product for this particular customer avatar, you need to offer exercise instruction that can accommodate groups.
Creating the Abbreviated Profile
If you’re new to your niche, then it’s a good idea to create the in-depth profile in order to truly understand your audience on a deeper level. However, if you have experience in your niche, then you can create a profile without doing surveys. You’ll still need to do research in order to gather information.
Here are the parts of the profile to complete when you’re doing an abbreviated profile:
1. Demographics, which you can easily complete by doing a Google search as described earlier.
2. Background information, which you can get a sense of by examining demographics information. (E.G., if someone has an advanced degree in a field related to the niche, it’s fairly safe to assume they are at an intermediate if not advanced level.)
3. Objections. You can brainstorm the most common objections (such as price, “this won’t work for me,” “I don’t believe you,” etc.). You can also search for the names of similar competitors’ products to see if your prospects have raised objections in blog discussions, social media conversations, and similar.
For example, search for statements such as, “I didn’t buy [name of product] because…”
4. Information sources. You can get an idea of what your audience is reading, watching and listening to by researching to uncover the bestselling information products and biggest platforms (such as Facebook Pages) in your niche.
What about the deeper-level information such as goals, values and motivations? You may be able to glean some of this information by reading product reviews and niche-relevant discussions on blogs, forums, and social media.
For example, if you’re trying to figure out your audience’s problems, then search for niche discussions that include statements and questions such as:
· I can’t [get desired result] because… (e.g., “I can’t lose weight because…”)
· I’m tired of…
· I no longer [perform some niche-related activity] because…
· Has anyone had this problem before?
· How do you overcome…
· How did you solve…
· What do I do?
· I hate/don’t like…
· Does anyone else really like/love…
This isn’t a perfect method because most of the time you don’t know the exact audience demographics of someone who’s participating in these discussions. That’s why we consider this is an abbreviated profile. Nonetheless, researching niche conversations will give you a pretty good idea of how your audience thinks, feels and behaves.
Now it’s your turn…
Your assignment is to first identify your potential customer avatars, and then begin completing each of these avatars. Fill in the information you can using research, and then do interviews and surveys to complete the rest of the avatar.