To do business with more of your ideal customers, focus on driving away the bad ones.
Who are your ideal customers? Do you know? More importantly, do you have a strategy for targeting them—and hopefully only them?
Why You Need To Focus
As sales and personal development guru Brian Tracy says, “The ability to find a customer, sell your product or service to that customer, and satisfy the customer so that [he or she] buys from you again should be the central focus of all entrepreneurial activity.”
In other words, when you think about it, you’re in the “defining your ideal customer” business.
And after all, doesn’t it make sense to get as clear as possible about who you’d prefer to do business with?
By focusing on finding more of those customers, you can:
- Make sure your messaging stays strong—because you’re not trying to appeal to everyone
- Spend less on marketing because you know exactly how to find your ideal customer—and how to tell them what they want to hear
- Benefit from a “snowball” effect where a focus on your ideal customer leads to you finding disproportionately more of the same kind of buyer.
Think of your best customer. Don’t you just love working with them? They probably energize you in a way that none of your other clients do.
Why wouldn’t you want more of that in your life?
How to find ideal customers—the traditional way
You’ll find a lot of advice on the web about defining your ideal buyer. Most of it involves asking yourself questions like these:
- What does my product or service do for my best customers? What problems does it solve—and who would most appreciate that solution?
- What does a person with that problem look like, in terms of age, race, location, sex, and other attributes?
- What does that person think they’re looking for—and why should they buy it from me?
- When do they need what I have to offer, and where can I find them when they need it?
These kinds of questions are extremely helpful.
But there’s another way to get more ideal customers…
How to find your ideal buyer—maverick style
To attract more of your ideal customers, try focusing on repelling the worst ones.
If you’re a writer, for example, you could mention up-front that clients are only entitled to one round of free edits—and further revisions need to be paid for at $85/hour.
A business coach could require a $1,000 deposit to weed out the tire-kickers.
A landscape architect could charge for her time preparing designs, with the promise of a refund if clients go ahead with the work.
With some creativity, anyone who sells anything can think of ways to discourage the people who waste their time, ask for too many concessions, and make work a miserable experience.
Why say no to bad customers?
Think of all you’ll give up when you start to say no to awful buyers.
You’ll be able to work the way you want to—the way you know is best.
You’ll get paid faster, and stop acting like both a bank and a collections agency when deadbeats don’t make good on their invoices.
You—and your staff—will have more energy, because there won’t be emotional vampires draining it anymore.
And you’ll likely see bigger profits—by firing your worst customers, you’ll use the time you would have wasted on them to pursue and serve more good buyers. That means a healthier bottom line.
How much fun would it be to identify awful buyers—and then find ways to scare them off? Your ideal customers spend more, buy more often, and require less service—so finding more of them should be a no-brainer.
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