As a business owner, one of the most important things that you can do for your business is to get to know your customer. This process should begin before the doors of the business open. When I say get to know your customer I mean really get to know them. You should be able to paint a descriptive picture of your ideal client.
As a coach and consultant for new and young businesses, a part of my process is to ask my clients “Who is your customer?”. How the client answers this question lets me know where we need to begin our work. The majority of the time new business owners will tell me things like “My customer is all women”. “My customer is anyone over 21 years old”. “My customer is everyone who has been heartbroken.” Each time I hear this I know that there is work to be done.
I like to start off with the coffee scenario. I am a coffee drinker. I like hazelnut coffee, with cream and sugar. Sounds simple enough, right? Well, let me break down for you why this is not as simple as it sounds.
When thinking of places that you can grab your morning coffee a few quick places come to my mind:
I can get hazelnut coffee with cream and sugar from each of these places, however just because I can does not mean that I will. Let’s dissect what I mean.
Starbucks is a more expensive cup of coffee. I usually go there for the experience. I want someone to make my coffee for me, put it in a cup with a sleeve and a stirrer, allow me to pay with my mobile app, and call my name when it is ready. My order at Starbucks is $5.43.
McDonald’s is a quick fix. I can go through the drive-thru, order a medium coffee with two pumps of hazelnut syrup, 2 creams, and 2 sugars. They will whip that up for me right quick. No frills. My order at McDonald’s is $1.35.
7-11 is more of a grab and go. Here you make your own coffee, it’s set up buffet style. 7-11 offers a variety of coffee types and additives. Here you get it your way because you make it yourself. My order at 7-11 is about $1.09.
Dunkin Donuts is midrange. When I am in a neighborhood that has a drive-thru Dunkin Donuts I will go there. They have my hazelnut coffee beans, not syrup, and they add in something called a swirl which is cream and sugar premixed. My order at Dunkin’ is $2.49.
As you can see each of these places sells the coffee that I like and I can shop at either of them if need be. However, depending on what my preference is at the time I may choose to not visit one or more of them. There are some people who believe that it is absurd to buy a cup of coffee for $5.43 when you can get one for $1.09. Then there are others that would never drink coffee that is served buffet style with all those people breathing over the coffee.
This is why you must know who specifically your target customer is. When you know who your customer is, you know what appeals to them, how to get their attention, and how to speak to them. Spending time learning your customer will save you lots of time and money. Starbucks knows not to market to the frugal customer. That is not their customer and they are okay with that. You have to be okay with knowing that everyone isn’t your customer.
A word of advice is, you want to market yourself properly and position yourself so that the customer you want seeks you out and not the other way around. Take the time early on and figure out exactly who your target customer is