How to Clearly Identify Your Potential Customers

Can You Clearly Identify Your Potential Customers?How well do you know your customers? What about your potential customers? Would you recognize them at the grocery store? Could you pick out a tie for them?

Take ten seconds and answer the following question out loud. Who are your clients? No…Seriously. Before you read any further, take the ten seconds and answer the question out loud. Who are your clients?

Chances are that if you said anything at all, your answer was something like “people who need legal assistance.”


Take a look at the above pictures. Which people are most likely to be your client? Can’t tell from a picture? What if I could tell you where they buy their clothes or where they had lunch? Do you know how much education they have had? What CD are they listening to right now?

“That’s impossible,” you say and then you provide a dozen excuses that we have all heard before. “Nobody knows that much about their prospective clients.” “My clients are a very diverse group of people.” “I’ve had clients that are 16 years old and clients that are 60.”

Okay, now that you’ve had a chance to provide excuses as to why you weren’t successful at this exercise in the past, let’s sit down for a little story. I am not a big game hunter myself, but the following analogy illustrates my point.

Let’s say that you and I go deer hunting. We gather our gear, get the most expensive scope, buy a great rifle, bring plenty of ammunition, and head for the hills. We hike up to an area that came highly recommended by our good friend. Since we are both incredibly lucky, we are hidden in our spot for only an hour or so when an entire herd of eligible targets wander right into the clearing below us. Knowing that we will only get one chance, we carefully bring our rifles to our shoulders and aim at the entire herd. After firing off round after round and making a lot of noise, we are absolutely astonished to learn that we hit absolutely nothing. (This is where individuals erroneously conclude that marketing is a waste of money). We spend the rest of the trip trying to figure out what went wrong. By the end of the day we have blamed our equipment, the deer, the timing of the trip, and especially, our good friend who obviously lead us into a herd of defective targets.

What really went wrong?…the same thing that usually goes wrong with an ineffective marketing campaign. We aimed at everything and hit exactly nothing.

Marketing, like most hunting efforts requires a well-designed, targeted approach. You don’t go hunting with a fishing pole and you don’t aim at the entire herd. You must bring the proper equipment, strategically and carefully select your very best target, and then aim specifically at that one target. Once you successfully hit your first target, then you can begin to look for a second option.

Now, let’s go back to the initial question. Who are your potential clients? In reality, savvy business owners will honestly remark “My clients are anyone who wants to pay me money for my service.” While that isn’t a bad answer, it is a terrible marketing strategy. If you really want to bag your limit on your hunting trip, then stop confusing your real targets by shooting at squirrels. (I know you can eat squirrels, but do you really want to?)

In order for your marketing campaign to be a success, you must select one specific target. Laying aside all of the many secondary targets, take a few minutes to think about your ideal client and complete the following exercise.

Think about the typical characteristics (or demographics) of your most ideal client. Demographics are the average or typical characteristics of the people who buy your products or services. Such characteristics include age, income, education, status, type of occupation, region of country, or household size. Demographics can also include the age of children, the status of home ownership, one’s home value, and whether one’s home is located in an urban or a rural location.

So now let’s move back to the definition of your specific target client. Is it a man or a woman? Exactly how old are they? (Don’t you dare aim at the entire herd by saying that they are between 18 and 80.) We both know that you will take credit for hitting the target on either side of the one you are aiming at but for now, let’s concentrate on the exact one you are trying to hit.

How much education does your ideal target have? Where did they go to school? Where do they live? Do they own or rent? What do they do for a living? Who else lives in their house? Ask yourself questions about the rest of their demographics until you feel you have a good, solid, singular answer for each one.

Now we can talk about psychographics. Psychographic data describes people’s lifestyles and behaviors. What kind of movies does your client enjoy? What CD is in their car right now? Where do they shop for their clothes? Why? Do they wait for a sale? How much do they spend a year on car maintenance? Do they bowl? Who is their favorite author? Have they ever been to a fortune teller? The list is practically endless but every little piece you can add to the puzzle will help you identify your true target. And unless you are incredibly lucky, you will not see much success at all in your marketing campaign until you have selected a single target and can describe him/her with a great deal of accuracy.

And now that you can provide a realist description of your potential client with significant detail you are ready to move on to step two… (see “Stop Talking At Your Customers”)


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