Please take a moment and ask yourself: How effective am I in identifying the ideal customer target for my business? The answer in most cases (if you are really being honest with yourself) is probably – “Not as effective as I could.” If this is the case, I understand. It is not an easy task for most businesses, and yet, it is so very important to know who your business is attempting to reach so that marketing strategies and tactics can be more effectively developed and aligned for business growth. There is a way, however, to more effectively identify the ideal customer target for your business and also better understand them so you can develop more effective marketing. I call this effort . . . . consumer storytelling.
Just so we have a shared understanding – I am using the term, “consumer,” in this context to mean either a business’ prospective customer or current customer. Of course, both are important to your business’ growth, so you need to consider both in your marketing efforts. A consumer story is the art of storytelling – reapplied – to identify and understand a business’ consumer (again, meaning both the prospective and current customer). So, a consumer story is a method of developing a consumer strategy, namely identifying your business’ ideal customer target and then conducting custom market research to better understand them so more effective marketing strategies and tactics can be developed and executed. You might be asking yourself: How do I develop an effective consumer story for my business? You might think about the development of a consumer story as a two-stage process:
- Identifying and targeting (by focusing on a niche) your business’ ideal customer target through a discovery process
- Understanding that ideal customer target through custom market research
- The following steps are included in the identification and targeting of an ideal customer during the discovery process:
- Understand your product or service from the ideal customer perspective
- Define the ideal customer for the product or service you sell
- Pinpoint the benefits sought by your ideal customer when shopping for your product or service
- Identify the location and timing of your ideal customer
- Determine your ideal customer’s buying strategy for your product or service
- Find a potential niche for your product or service by identifying a group in the marketplace meeting one or more of the following scenarios: a group with unique needs, one where your product or service is a better fit than what competitors offer, one in which your ROI opportunity is significantly better for your business than other options, one where the size of the group is large enough to be sustainable for continued revenue over time, or a group that is not currently effectively targeted in the market.
The custom market research part of the consumer story includes a focus on strategically understanding how the ideal customer target views your business and its products and services in a competitive context. The typical areas of focus include, among others, the following:
- Perceptions of your business’ product or service within the competitive landscape.
- Expectations that the ideal customer target has for players in your industry and an evaluation of how well or poorly your business competes in that regard.
- An unmet/”under met” needs assessment to identify potential opportunities for your business