In a perfect world, finding your ideal customer would be as easy as turning your store sign from “Closed” to “Open,” opening the front door, and watching the masses rush in to buy your latest products.

That dream scenario might come true if you’re ever the manufacturer of the hottest Christmas toy on the market. Otherwise, finding your ideal customer will take considerable more brainstorming, market research, data analysis, and occasionally plain old dumb luck.

Your ideal customer is not one single person, but a profile compiled of answers to multiple questions. The responses can be gathered from many resources, starting with data collected from your previous and current customers.  You’ll get the basics there, like name, address, email address, and how they opt to pay for your services.

Finding Your Ideal Customer via Data

That’s a start, but it’s hardly enough to make a composite sketch of your ideal customer. You’ll need to ask for the rest or find it by doing a bit of research on your customers.  Asking for it makes the most sense because it’s the easiest way to compile data quickly while having your customers do most of the legwork.

Internet-generated surveys can do the trick, but you might find a low compliance rate if you don’t incentivize the survey. A local pizzeria might want to drill down to the core components of what its customers do, think, and buy. When customers order online, the pizza restaurant sends them a link to a survey.

When customers complete the survey, they get a coupon code for a free order of Cheezy Bread -a  $5 value – off their next order.

A few moments later, data is on its way to the pizzeria’s marketing team telling what race the customer is, how much money their household makes a year, how old they are,  what other pizza restaurants they order from, what items they order, what kind of advertising they’ve seen or heard for pizzerias in the last month, etc.

Another option that’s a little more involved from the business side is using social media. The same pizzeria can offer a 10% off coupon if customers follow its Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram account. Once that happens, the marketing team can mine data from the customer social media pages and start crafting a profile to find the ideal customer.

Once you’ve established how you’ll gather your data, you move on to what data is most important.  The idea of what makes a pizzeria tick is pretty well-known, so we’ll shift gears to a more relevant new business.  

Our example will revolve around a startup, Company X, that installs security cameras and other devices to the exterior of homes. Here are five great questions to help define your ideal customer.

What are your customer’s challenges or frustrations?

People are always willing to spend money when something in their lives is viewed as a threat, a danger, or a fear. Plenty of people move to the suburbs or gated communities because they want safety for themselves and their family members. But that perception is being challenged by criminals who brazenly invade homes, steal packages, or try to initiate scams on residents in broad daylight.  Installing security cameras that record to a centralized cloud environment that customers can access from anywhere is a massive step in the right direction. A doorbell with a camera built in lets them see who is knocking without even approaching the door. Safety and security are the challenges that Company X’s customers are looking to answer.

Where do your customers get their information?

Age is a significant factor in answering this question. For senior citizens, reading the newspaper and watching TV are likely answers. For millennials, the likes of Facebook and Twitter are surefire bets.

You should have a general idea of how old your customers are based on face-to-face and phone exchanges with them. Generally, the younger they are, the more reliant they are on digital technology for information gathering. Customers seeking information on digital security systems likely use the Internet for most of their knowledge, including social media platforms and discussion forums.

What is your customer’s preferred form of communication?

When your dad has a problem with a purchase, it’s pretty likely he’s going to march down there to talk to the manager. He might settle for a phone call, but he’s just as likely to write a scathing letter and put it out in the mail tomorrow morning.

Having grown up in the digital age, you’re a lot more likely to send a text or even bandy the issue about with a supported chat agent. Email is a last resort for you because you’re used to information being available as soon as you want it.  Find your ideal customer by reaching out to him or her by their preferred means of communication.

What is your customer’s budget?

Money is always a tricky question to answer. What a customer is willing to pay is a lot different than what they can afford. You’re looking for the sweet spot between affordability and profit-making.

If your prices are too high, no one will ever buy from you. If they are too low, your margins will be terrible, and you’ll go out of business. You know your costs. You know how much you have to charge to turn a profit.  Find the spot where those numbers intersect, and you’ll have your answer.

What does a typical day look like for your customer?

The answers will vary enormously here, but that’s all right. You aren’t looking for your customers to all be clones, but you do want three or four variations that you can craft advertising and marketing campaigns.

For Company X, some customers might be stay-at-home moms or work-from-home parents who are concerned with their safety during the daytime hours when most neighborhoods are empty.

Other customers might travel a lot and seek reassurance that their homes are well protected even if they aren’t in the country. Still, others might have a nanny watching the kids after school when Mom and Dad are working and need an eye on the situation at all times. Build the profiles to find the ideal customer that you can construct a journey on which to take them.


About the Author

James is an avid investor in real estate and the stock market. He has found an edge in his real estate investing with digital marketing.