What do you think is the most common answer to the question “Who is your customer?”

The answer I most often get is “everyone.”

And you can imagine how popular I am when I say “No, actually, it’s not.”

The reason for that is because if you ask your customer “Who is (your company, personal brand, product, etc.), they either have a clear understanding or they don’t. If you they DO, then it’s likely they have strong feelings about you, if they don’t, chances are they feel indifferent.

Your goal should be to make your company, brand or product as clear to your ideal customer as possible. In order to do that, you have to narrow down the ideal customer.

Because if you’re trying to reach EVERYONE, your message is muddled, you’re spending WAY more on marketing and advertising than you need to, and ultimately, you’re not creating any sort of loyalty or passion. In today’s market, loyalty and passion saves a lot of time, energy and money.

It does not matter WHAT kind of business you’re in, you can define a persona that’s your ideal or target customer – and it goes beyond demographics….way, way, beyond demographics.

Your customer comes to you with ideas about who they are. They want to know who YOU are. Your customer either sees him or herself buying your product, using your service or supporting your message, or they don’t.

People ultimately buy your products or message for two reasons: 1) it validates how they see themselves or 2) it validates how they WANT to see themselves. 
Tweet: People ultimately buy for 2 reasons: 1) it validates how they see themselves or 2) it validates how they WANT to see themselves. – @taracoomans

That’s it.

I’ll give you a real-life example.
Let’s say I envision myself as a great cook. It does not MATTER whether I am actually a great cook or not, what’s important is that I think I am.

If I think I’m a great cook, I will go through great lengths to preserve that idea I have about myself. So when I go to buy a product, what do you think I look for? I look for the product that other people who say they are great cooks use. I’ll pay a premium for the product that endorses my own persona and so will YOUR ideal customers. I once bought a CHEESE GRATER (talk about a commodity) that was 25% more expensive because I perceived it as the product that great cooks use. All because the brand has spent the time to target great cooks – and make products which great cooks appreciate.

If you’re not clear on who your ideal customer is, how can you be clear on who you should be reaching?

Your product may or may not be a premium product. It doesn’t matter. You need to find the people who are most likely to appreciate your products and focus on getting to them 5-7X before they will consider buying your product. Chances are, that will keep you busy for sometime. Once you’ve saturated that market, and trust me, that’s harder and harder to do, THEN you can reach into sub-markets.

Defining customer profiles is ONE of the processes we go through here at Akamai Marketing. But if you’re just getting started on this process, you can use our handy worksheet to start you on the Customer Clarity Journey. This particular worksheet also has the added benefit of helping you define who you WANT your target customer to be.  This free worksheet is one component of the Spark Sessions I use in the GoCaptivate Marketing Incubator.