What does your ideal customer look like?

Sharon Tanton

‘Know your customer’ is one of the key early stages of the content strategy process. How well do you know yours? Try Valuable Content’s ideal customer exercise.

Who is your ideal customer

Q: What do you get if you cross Brian Cox with Emmeline Pankhurst, and throw in a bit of Bill Hicks and Mr Busy?

A: Someone we’d love to work with.

‘Know your customer’ is one of the key early stages of the content strategy process. How well do you know yours?

One of the exercises we get you to do if you come to one of our content strategy groups (AKA Pub School) is to bring along a picture of your ideal customer or client. It’s invaluable to have a real person right in front of you when you’re working to define your content sweet spot.

It’s been fascinating to see what people bring to the session. Some bring photos, some bring drawings, some bring amalgams of the different people and characteristics that make up an ideal client.

Sonja and I did the exercise too, and the resulting picture has been the source of much hilarity, so we thought we’d share it here, and explain what makes an ideal Valuable Content customer.

If you’re embarking on your own content marketing journey, take note. There is method in our madness, and this exercise will help you on your way. Do try this one at home.

Characteristics of the ideal Valuable Content customer

Valuable Content ideal customer

Pragmatic crusader

Jamie Oliver, Emmeline Pankhurst, Anita Roddick – what do they all have in common? We reckon they epitomise brave, independent crusaders who want to change the world, or at least one part of it. Our favourite clients tend to be like this too – they can see where change needs to happen, and they just want to get on and do it! Now! We love their drive.

Enthusiastic Expert

Like Patrick Moore and Brian Cox, VC clients tend to know an awful lot about something important. They have deep knowledge and a genuine passion for their subject And they’re super fired up about it, and want to tell the world all about it but…..

Cynical about marketing

…they don’t see themselves as natural marketers. Maybe they’re not quite as super cynical as Bill Hicks (although some are) but marketing isn’t usually their first love. It’s something they know they need to do and they would like to get good at it. Marketing doesn’t fill them them with nearly as much joy as the idea that fuelled their business in the first place.  We show our cynical marketers how to share their passion and expertise in a customer focused way, and marketing becomes easier and more likeable.

Community minded

Like the Call the Midwives team, Valuable Content customers genuinely care about the community they serve. They want to make their clients’ world a better place. And that’s perfect for us, because you can’t create valuable content if you don’t genuinely care.

We can’t teach you this bit, you either have it or you don’t. If your only motivation is pure profit, or you’re selling a crappy product, then we’re not for you.

Grand Designs not Cowboy Builders

Valuable Content customers want to do it properly. They want to follow the right marketing path, and they get satisfaction from understanding how the different parts of the process all fit together. They aim for quality in all they do, value good design and want a sense of pride in things they create. They’d hate to do a bodge job, papering over the cracks and hoping nobody notices.

They’re building something beautiful; their business is their legacy, and it’s got to be right.

Too busy

Like Mr Busy and Little Miss Busy Valuable Content clients are super busy. Overstretched. Time poor. They know marketing is important, but their to-do lists are a mile long. They like us because we show them how to make it work, alongside everything else they have to do.  Introducing them to the amazing time saving qualities of valuable content goes down very well.

Try this exercise

Think about your own ideal customer. What characteristics do they have? What drives them, and what makes them a good fit for you?

If you find it hard to start, make a list of your top five clients. Focus on the client relationships you’d like to replicate and people you’d be happy to work with again. Write them down, then look for any qualities they have in common with each other.

The links can be as random as you like, think of personal qualities, likes and dislikes, shared goals. Don’t limit yourself to work related stuff – this is one of those exercises where it pays to be creative. (You never know where that knowledge that your ideal customers are Bruce Springsteen fans might come in useful!).

Finding pictures to illustrate each point is a really useful exercise. It pushes you to think hard, and to articulate what’s unique about the way you do things. Each time we do it, it reminds me that ‘always have a real person in mind‘ is one of those bits of well-worn writing wisdom you can’t afford to ignore. Use what you learn to help you understand what kind of content you should be creating, and how you should be communicating.

Always have a real person in mind is one of those bits of well-worn writing wisdom you can’t afford to ignore.

For example, we know our pragmatic crusaders like content about sharing a purpose with the world. Our cynical marketers won’t stand for any marketing waffle. Mr and Little Miss Busy just want to make content marketing work. It helps us shape our content (and our services). It will help you too.

Good luck. Do tell us how you get on.

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