No matter what business you are in, you probably work hard and hope to make sales. Most of us start our creative careers with the goal of doing what we love while bringing in income.
Unfortunately, once we get started, the harsh reality sets in: selling our products is often harder than making them.
If this is you, you are not alone. And don’t worry, it’s not because your products aren’t amazing. If you love doing it, odds are you do it well. When you take pride in your work, that work inevitably turns out better!
So why are your products not flying off the figurative shelves?
It’s because you aren’t selling to your ideal customer. If you try to sell to “everyone” it is difficult to sell to anyone.
This is the first rule of marketing. The good news is, once you learn how to sell to your Ideal Customer, you will sell more products, and genuinely enjoy marketing to people who love your brand.
To get to there in your business, follow these 7 steps to create your ideal customer profile.
The “YOU” Steps
The first two steps to building your ideal customer profile are about you and your product. You must understand the fundamentals of your business before you can find the customers that will resonate with your brand the most.
Step 1: Understand Yourself
To attract the right customers, you need to develop a deeper understanding of yourself and your goals. What do you want to accomplish by selling this product? How will you measure your success?
If setting goals for your business is something you struggle with, I encourage you to check out my post: Setting Achievable Goals that Actually Motivate You
The next thing you need to understand is your WHY.
There is a brilliant book by Simon Sinek called Start With Why. It talks about the importance of fully delving into the purpose of your business and what you want your brand to bring to the world.
Your WHY is unique to you and your brand and is what will resonate most with your ideal customer.
What motivates you to do what you do?
What feelings and values do you want to bring to your customers?
What changes do you want to see your brand bring to the marketplace?
Understanding more about yourself and your motivations will help you connect with the customers who are looking for what you want to provide.
Set 2: Understand Your Product
The next step to finding your ideal customer is understanding your product. What do you sell on a surface level? What problems does your product solve?
What do you sell on an emotional level? What feelings do you want your customers to have when using your product?
Creative entrepreneurs often have a hard time selling their products. They make the product for emotional reasons, but then try to sell it for only practical reasons.
Instead of just focusing on the functions of the product, focus on how the product meets your customers’ needs in a practical way AND emotional way. Look into the deeper meanings behind the products you are bringing to the market.
What makes your product different from similar products that are mass produced? Does your product cater to a narrower group of people than the general public? What features and benefits does your product have that most other mass-produced products don’t?
Examples: Does your bakery focus on keto-friendly desserts? Does your clothing line offer relief to people with sensory difficulties?
Understanding your product and what makes it special will help you narrow down the customers who will be most excited to purchase it.
The “Customer” Steps
Now that you have developed a deeper understanding of your goals and your products, the remaining 5 steps focus on who your customers are.
You will narrow down your ideal customer to one person, or buyer persona. This persona is not an actual person, but an idea of someone who represents your perfect customer.
By creating this Ideal Customer Profile, you can filter all marketing decisions through the lens of whether those choices will properly reach and communicate with the actual customers who align with that profile.
There are two ways we can get started with this profile.
- If you already have a few customers and can track buyer information, pull those records and start looking for similarities between your previous and current customers.
- If you have not made many sales yet, then begin by imagining who you think would be most interested in your products and then make corrections to your profile as you go.
Step 3: Who Is Your Ideal Customer?
First, we want to know the basic information about who your ideal customer is.
Are they male or female? Remember, this does not exclude the other gender from using your product. This simply means: who is more likely to buy it?
What age range do they fall into? Is your ideal customer a preteen hanging out with friends, or a 70-year-old grandparent living alone?
What does your ideal customer look like? Does ethnicity play a factor in who will probably buy your products? There are many great skincare and haircare products that specialize in providing solutions for specific ethnicities. Do not skip this question if it applies to your product.
What is your ideal customer’s income or spending ability? Again, that doesn’t mean that people outside of this income range cannot buy your product, but knowing the income of your target customer is going to help you price your products correctly.
Step 4: What Does Your Ideal Customer Do?
Next, you want to look at what your ideal customers do so you can figure out how your products will enhance their lives.
What job does your ideal customer have? Do they have a daily commute? Do they work from home? Do they need specific supplies or equipment for their job? Do they have to learn specific skills for that occupation?
What does your ideal customer do on the weekends? Do they have specific interests or hobbies that could relate to the product you sell? Do they engage in these activities alone or with others? What equipment do they need for these activities?
What other responsibilities does your ideal customer have? What kinds of problems or difficulties often arise for them because of these responsibilities? How can your product help relieve some of this pressure?
Knowing what your ideal customer does daily will help you understand more about how your product can help them and how they may incorporate it into their busy lives.
This knowledge can also give you insight into where you can reach them when you are marketing your product. Each of these questions offers insight into where your Ideal Customer will hang out and spend their spare time. You will need this information for step 7.
Step 5: What Does Your Ideal Customer Want?
Take a moment and put yourself in your Ideal Customer’s shoes and think about what they truly want.
What are their desires and goals? How do they go about reaching these goals, and how can your product help them achieve these ambitions?
People often make purchases driven by the desire for something bigger than the product itself. Skincare companies don’t just sell skin cream. They sell a youthful appearance and self-confidence.
Your customers’ wants and desires should align with your own. In step 1, we talked about your WHY and what is most important to you about making the product you produce. Now look at how that WHY could align with the goals your customer has as well.
Step 6: What Doesn’t Your Ideal Customer Want?
People also make buying decisions based on emotional pain. Something is causing your customer enough pain and frustration that they will part with their hard-earned money to make that problem go away.
What problems or frustrations does your ideal customer have that your product could solve for them?
Examples: Do they have a boring office that demotivates them and they need uplifting artwork to entice them to sit at their desk rather than make another trip to the coffee maker? Are they a trendsetter who is tired of seeing the same hats in all the department stores and they long for something new to wow their friends and coworkers with?
Your ideal customer’s problems should line up well with the features and benefits of your products.
The pull towards your ideal customer’s emotional desires is likely going to be what first gets their attention, but the problem you are solving for them will give them the final nudge to purchase.
Step 7: Where Does Your Ideal Customer Hang Out?
Now that we understand key details about your Ideal Customer, we can start brainstorming the kinds of places they are likely to hang out.
Where to they stop to get coffee on the way to work? Where to they shop for the equipment they need for extracurricular activities? What online forums and chats do they frequent?
Example: People who love coffee will often be found hanging out with friends at coffee shops. They may even go online and purchase specialty roasted and infused coffee beans. If you sell decorated coffee mugs, these are good places to start with your advertising.
However, by understanding deeper details about your ideal customer, you can narrow down your options even further.
Example: If your ideal customer drinks coffee but also loves art shows, then you are likely to make more sales by setting up a booth at the locally owned coffee shop in your city’s art district than you are by putting out fliers at the nearest Starbucks.
Knowing where your ideal customer already spends their time will help you know where you need to go to get in front of them.
The goal here is to find the people who will fall in love with what you create just by glancing at it. This takes far less energy than trying to convince people with no interest that they should change their mind and buy from you, anyway.
The secret to selling more of your creative products is understanding your ideal customer.
Use these seven steps to build your ideal customer profile and use that profile as the basis for all of your marketing and outreach decisions.
Once you have done the work to find and get in front of your ideal customers, marketing your products will only get easier from there. Not only will you save yourself time and energy, you will reach people who love your products so much that they can’t help but tell others about them.