Everybody talks about your “target customer”, but what does it actually MEAN? In today’s episode, I’ll tell you what you need to know about ideal clients, most likely buyers, and who to focus on so you don’t exhaust yourself searching for both.

Why would you try to search for anyone OTHER than ideal clients and the most likely buyers? All this, and more, will be revealed. Give me less than 10 minutes, and I’ll explain… your target customer.

Just click play, and I’ll meet you there.

Transcript & Shownotes

Naomi Explains... Your Target CustomerWelcome back to Naomi Explains Marketing, the show where I help coaches, consultants, experts, authors, and other associated nerds, geeks and misfits sell the contents of their brains for cash money. I am your host, Naomi, and today we’re talking about your target customer.

Let’s do this.

If you’re looking for buzzwords, you can’t get much buzzier than the concept of the target customer or client. Take a breath, folks. We have target customers, we have target demographics. We have ideal customers and clients. We have customer avatars. We have most likely buyers. And we’ve got a whole ton more. Yeah. I know.

Many of these definitions blend and eventually start getting used interchangeably. This is understandable – buzzwords are buzzwords, after all – but it’s a disaster when you’re a poor, hapless ittybiz owner trying to actually define your… well, whatever it is.

(Now, brief note: speaking of interchangeably, I’m going to refer to clients and customers pretty interchangeably for this episode. While generally, a customer is someone who buys a product, and a client is someone who buys a service, for today, we’re going to pretend they’re the same thing.)

Now, on to targets and such.

We’re going to touch on three of these oft-blended concepts, because these three are the most useful in our line of work.

Let’s start with the most airy-fairy and abstract version… the ideal client. You’ve probably seen exercises like this, where you fill out a little worksheet of everything you want in your perfect client. The ideal client is exactly what it sounds like. Ideal. Perfect. Flawless. The best they could possibly be. This is the client or customer who hits every note of rightness. Awesome, right? Yes. And when you can find the ideal in the wild – client, partner, puppy – well, you jump on that. ‘Cause it’s perfect.

But ideal isn’t all perfection! Other synonyms of “ideal” paint a more robust picture of the ideal client situation, because other synonyms of ideal are “unattainable”, impracticable, and, um, fictitious. Also imaginary.

When you’re first starting your business, it’s a great idea to have a sketch of your ideal client, because knowing what an A+ looks like is really useful. Knowing what our ideal client looks like stops us from chasing every rando that might have a Visa card, diluting our messaging, and wasting our time. It gives us a picture of just right. But in business as in high school, you can’t always count on an A+. Perfect isn’t real life, and paying too much attention to perfect leads to frustration and possibly heartbreak.

Next up…

Now we’ll look at the other end of the spectrum, the prosaic, the practical, and the utterly uninspired… most likely buyer. Unlike an ideal client – someone motivated! someone dedicated! someone with an independent income source and a hell of a lot of time on their hands! – the most likely buyer is simply the person most likely to purchase something.

The most likely buyer is NOT the ideal client. In fact, the most likely buyer is often VERY different from the ideal client, and can actually be their polar opposite. In most coaching / teaching / training / healing circles, your most likely buyer is actually a coaching / teaching / training / healing junkie. The person most likely to buy your stuff is the person who’s out there buying everybody’s stuff.

The most likely buyer, at the beginning of your business journey, will likely make up the majority of your sales, but that doesn’t mean they’re who you want. They’re who you happen to be getting. If chasing ideal clients leads to frustration and / or heartbreak, chasing most likely buyers leads to cynicism and burnout.

Now. We don’t want heartbreak and we don’t want burnout.

Whatever shall we do?

Ahh. What we do is settle on a nice, happy in-between.

Sitting in between those two poles is what most of us want to pay attention to, and that’s the target customer.

The target customer is the best of those two worlds. The target customer is more common, and therefore easier to find, than absolute perfection, and also a more refined fit than likelies. We’re going to call this the 60-80% rule.

For most people without business degrees, the best way to settle in on a target customer is to take your ideal and remove a few of the criteria.

For example, let’s imagine you’re my student and client Kristen, founder of NaturalBirthandBabyCare.com. Her ideal client might be a woman newly pregnant with her second child or later.

They have had at least one challenging or less than ideal birth experience and are ready to face their next birth in a more empowered way. They’re crunchy – it is “natural” birth, after all.

They recognize the value of caring for themselves through their pregnancy – no skimping on vitamins and good food because they feel bad spending money on themselves.

And speaking of money, they have some and they’re perfectly comfortable spending it. They’re happy to buy her signature course, and have no financial or personal impediments to hiring her as a birth plan facilitator or even a birthing coach.

While we’re talking about ideals, it’s probably pretty helpful if they’re planning to have a whack more children. More births equals more coaching hours for Kristen, and her lifetime value of a customer goes way up. (More on lifetime value of a customer, or LVC, in a future episode.)

Let’s say that’s her ideal.

If that’s her perfect, A+ client, a target client is someone who hits 60-80% of those criteria. Maybe it’s their first birth, or their last. Maybe they’re on a bit of a budget – they’ll happily invest in a birth plan, but coaching is beyond their means, real or perceived. Maybe they’re a little crunchy, but they don’t know anybody who’s had a natural birth, so they need a little more hand-holding and spoon-feeding through the process.

There are a LOT more people who meet 60-80% of Kristen’s “ideal” criteria than those who meet it 100%. So while her content and marketing messages will be informed by her “ideal criteria” – you may as well shoot for the moon – she’s not going to get hung up or attached on ensuring that everyone is perfect. She’s not going to be inflexible about this.

As you go through the various exercises and worksheets you come across in your marketing journey, keep this concept in mind. Your ideal client is perfect, but they’re sometimes exhausting to find. Your most likely buyer is who you happen to get, but they’re sometimes exhausting to please. Your target, though, is your happy medium – not quite perfect, but a pretty darn good fit.

On that note, I’ll leave you. In our next episode, we’re talking about your offer. Until then, make sure to subscribe to this podcast, and do what’ll leave you feeling good today. Talk soon!

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