As a Project Specialist at Lowes my husband, Brian, responded to appointments by visiting the potential customer’s home, taking measurements, spending time conversing while gaining rapport and building an estimate for services and materials needed.
One day last spring he responded to an appointment in the hill country of Texas (for the purposes of anonymity, we’ll call her Mrs. Smith) to Mrs. Smith’s house. As he began measuring for fencing, Mrs. Smith followed him around, making conversation about her life as a grade school teacher and what it’s been like to now be retired.
As Brian wrapped up his measurements he began to tell her that him and I were also a form of teachers, as we homeschool our 1st grade son and PreK daughter. Without hesitation and with a gleam of excitement in her eyes, Mrs. Smith hurriedly lead Brian over to a pile of what most of us would consider garbage, and began fumbling through, mumbling about how she had the perfect thing for him.
After several minutes she exclaimed that she’d found what she was looking for.
In what felt like slow motion - in an already awkward situation, she turned around, opened her hands, and handed him a raccoon skull! Fully intact, top and bottom jaw, teeth, eye sockets – it was all there.
Before Brian could decline, thank her, or say …. “ummm…..”, she told him all the reasons why a 7 year old grade school boy would love it and how with a bit of cleaning it could sit prominently in our little school house as a treasured artifact.
He thanked Mrs. Smith and made a b-line for his car – skull in hand.
Although I’m sure there are many little boys out there that would’ve truly loved her gift, what Mrs. Smith may never know is that our family is a vegan for the animals, activism supporting, plant based, family of five – in large part because our 7-year-old son convinced us that animals shouldn’t be eaten, used for entertainment, or killed for clothing, furniture etc.
So there we were an edamame eating, indoor pig raising family, being handed a raccoon skull, by a well-meaning former school teacher, to display as the crowned jewel of our school house.
We now laugh at just how excited she was to give us such a gift – yet how very far off base she'd been in whom she gave it to.
As funny as that is, it makes me think of how often, as business owners, we misdirect our passions or products within our content and marketing strategies.
We are passionate about our company – who we are, what our business is about, the product or service we provide – and we think if we can just get our message out to as many people as possible, we’ll have given the world the best gift of all.
But how many times do our raccoon skulls land in a hippy, vegan, animal activist’s inbox?
The importance of an accurate customer profile is paramount.
The following are two tips to help you research and build your target audience:
1. Where Have all The Good Guys Gone?
Do you have a single friend? If so, you’ve probably heard, “Where are all the good guys? Everyone’s already taken".
It may feel like that in business too. All the customers already have that product or don’t use that service – but the truth is you’ve got to know where to look.
Growing up in West Michigan, I got really good at finding baby turtles; loved them.There is very little in life as cute as a baby painted turtle no larger than a quarter.
But to find them, you had to go to the outermost shallow end of the pond. Away from where everyone was swimming, towards where all the minnows and tadpoles would congregate. Then you simply wait quietly for one to surface.
If I were looking for them in the deep end of the pond, in the middle of all the laughter and commotion of the other kid's playing, I’d assume there weren’t any baby turtles – yet they were there all along, I just needed to know where to look.
The same is true for our customers. Brainstorm the following to help you find where your ideal customers are hanging out and what they resonate with:
What are their preferred activities?
What are their interests?
What opinions do they have?
What are their attitudes?
What values do they hold?
What do they most want out of a working relationship with you?
2. We’re Not in Kansas Anymore
Demographics play a huge role in your customer’s life. Don’t make the mistake of assuming a customer in California is going to respond the same way to your marketing efforts as a customer in Idaho will. Take the time to assess these key factors when building your customer profile:
What is the age of my ideal customer (be as specific as possible – vast age ranges are another form of "shot in the dark strategy")
What gender is my ideal customer?
What income level are they?
Where in the world are they (be as specific as possible with their geography)?
Any other distinguishing factors regarding the area, culture, and demographics
What do they most need out of a working relationship with you?
Building a comprehensive digital strategy and customer profile isn’t as simple as brainstorming these two fundamental ideas, but it is a necessary first step.
Take some time today to talk with your creative team, your employees, or by yourself and fill out as much information as you can on your ideal customer.
Build a profile of him/her and begin shaping the narrative of your content to appeal to who they are – lest you offer a perfectly good raccoon skull to an animal rights activist.
For a more in-depth look, step by step instructions, and an example of a comprehensive customer profile, download our free resource: How to Build a Comprehensive Customer Profile today.
I'll see you on the other side.