Over the next several months, Gloria Flanagan, our Assistant Director, will be writing several posts based on information that she learned at the America’s SBDC Conference in September of this year. This is the first post in this series.
How well do you know your customers or clients? Whether you are a brick and mortar retail store, a restaurant, or a business-to-business consultant, it is important to recognize exactly who you are targeting with your goods or services. At a recent “Guerilla Branding” seminar that I attended, the perfect customer was defined as the one with which you make the most money and gives you the least grief. The second part of that definition is important because if you spend inordinate amounts of time to please a very finicky customer, you may find that “firing” that customer or client actually raises your profits (time is money!), and helps your business.
So, who is your perfect customer? Many small business owners find it helpful to occasionally sit down with their staff (if they have one) and list the attributes of their customers. Here are some questions you might ask yourself about your customers:
- Are they primarily male or female?
- How old are they?
- Are you part of their “work life” or their “leisure life”?
- Are there specific racial or socioeconomic groups that make up the bulk of your clients?
- How do they dress?
- Where do they live?
- Are they “locals”, “regionals”, or tourists?
Develop your profile, even to the point of giving your ideal hypothetical customer a name. You will want to keep that customer in mind as you develop your marketing strategy. Some examples of profile might include:
- Betty, the 40 year-old small business owner who comes in during the week in business attire. She gets her latte on the way in to work and generally comes in for a takeout salad at lunchtime, always in a hurry. Once a month, she has a hair appointment at a local salon – the last appointment of the day, and she is on her phone throughout the appointment, just like she was ordering her latte and lunch. She patronizes the local printer and office supply store that picks up and delivers, and she always places her order online.
- Dave, the 30-something fitness enthusiast, who you always see at the farmers market on weekends, usually with his dog. He is always on the lookout for a new or fun experience during the evenings and weekends, since he works for the government in DC Monday through Friday.
- Tess and Tom, 60 year old tourists, have taken the water-taxi over from National Harbor, where they are at week-long convention. They are dressed casually, but their outfits are well-put-together and not inexpensive. This is their first time in Alexandria, and they want to take in as much as they can in one day, as well as pick up something both for themselves and for the grandchildren.
These are a few examples of typical folks that you may encounter in your business in Alexandria. Once you have developed a prototype of your ideal customer, you can determine the best way to reach them. Do they prefer to interact with you in person, by telephone, or online? When do they interact with you? What are their priorities? Knowing them will help you to target your marketing and increase your social currency to meet your best customer in the place where they want to be. In future blogposts we will explore ways to make this work for you.