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You are Not Your Ideal Customer- Really You’re Not

One of the greatest things about having your own business, of being an entrepreneur is choosing whom you work with. No more clients chosen by your sales team or your boss. You no longer have to work with any person warm, and breathing with a pulse (although that helps ;)), you get to profile and attract who you want to work with, you get to say no to people who are not a fit and you get to spend each day waking up and wanting to go to work with your ideal customer. What’s not to love?

Well, you’re not your ideal customer.

I know, your ideal customer might be like you, but they are not you. They don't get excited when The Flash comes on the tv,they do  love the X Factor though. That might not seem like a difference, but it is. Human beings are made up of hundreds and millions of nuances, and their experiences may differ from yours. Example, when I was in school the teachers spent two years striking. They would stand up and say “We want you to get the best education.” and then we’d have the rest of the week off as they were striking. Now, it’s not that I don’t like teachers, four of my closest friends are excellent teachers, it’s just my experience of teachers is different to yours. If you tell me you’re a teacher, my response will be so what.

Let’s compare that to someone who had a solid education, they didn’t experience broken schooling or the indifference of the teachers to the pupils, but someone who has had a positive experience of teachers. When you say you’re a teacher, they get excited. They share your passion for teaching and will tell you how awesome you are and what a brilliant education system the country has.

Those are the nuances.

When you’re up close and personal with your work as entrepreneurs, it’s easy to think that your ideal customer is just like you; that they share the same beliefs. They probably do, but what they don't have is the same experiences as you. This means you have to focus on your customer avatars and when you share something you have to think “Would my ideal customer like this”. Not whether you like it or not, but whether it will connect and resonate with your ideal customer.

That’s hard for a lot of entrepreneurs who do their own social media to understand.

You are not your ideal customer. Trust me, you’re not. They may be like you, and have things in common but they are not you. When you get advice from a professional marketer, they look at your customer avatar with you, your brand and it’s values and then you get the advice on how to do whatever you need to do. If that advice is to share a certain type of content to attract in your ideal client you should try it to see if it works, and try it for an agreed amount of time generally not 5 minutes. Looking at something and saying it won’t work is what idiots, the overwhelmed and those that think they are they’re own customer do. I know, I’ve been all of those people.

Marketing is about measure and adjust

It’s about sharing the right content for your audience, connecting with them, finding what could be better and then giving them that. It’s about constantly testing and finding the sweet spot, and that might mean sharing things that you normally wouldn't, but connect with your audience. As you get to know the ideal customer, you get to know and understand their nuances. You start to discover the things they care about deeply, so you can tailor your marketing more specifically, and that might mean deviating greatly from the things that you love.

If my audience was moms of children of a certain age, I might make references to Minecraft. Children, who aren’t teens, love Minecraft. Do I love Minecraft? Maybe. Do I watch my children play it? Yes, yes I do. Like these parents, I know who Stampy is and Eyeballistic Squid is, and I know that Stampy likes cake. But what if your ideal customer doesn't have children of that age? Theirs are younger or older? Mentioning Minecraft might not get the same connection. Should you decline to mention or share Minecraft and Stampy just in case? Hell no.

If these parents are my ideal customers then I need to talk about the detail, the things that show that I understand them and what goes on in their life. I might like to play Crash Bandicoot or Outrun on my ancient Playstation, but that’s me. I’m not hiding who I am, I’m connecting.

It’s not about you. It’s about them.

I know you’re the most important person in your life. I get it. You might talk about whom you serve, but you are the center of your world. Then one day you wake up and realise you’re not the center of the universe; there are hundreds of other stars out there with their own gravitational pull. Did you like how I just went from Minecraft to Astronomy? ;), If I was really smart I’d get in a reference about Big Bang Theory and Sheldon Cooper.

So think for a moment about the nuances, the little details that connect you to prospects and ideal customers. These little things are the things that connect us.

Kevin Arrow
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  • This is a lesson it took me a while to realise. I spent ages thinking ‘I want to help people like I was’, and thinking that meant I had to talk to the person I used to be. Now, while there are some helpful aspects to that idea in terms of the problem I want to help people solve (stress, self loathing, overwhelm, dependency on alcohol to ‘solve problems’, spiritual drift), the person I used to be had some very specific problems, worries, likes and dislikes that were what made me very uniquely me. Other people didn’t have the exact journey through life I had, so targetting only ‘old me’ getting me absolutely nowhere (although I was writing some content that made me cry sometimes, and definitely sharing some things that should have stayed private in a bit to ‘be authentic’!)

    Thanks to you and Sarah I get that my ideal customer isn’t old me. Old me wouldn’t have bought what I was offering at the time anyway, she would have needed something very different. I was trying to market to old me, but offering something the person I am now would love to buy! D’oh! Still learning, but thanks to you and Sarah, I am getting there!

  • Kevin you put it so well. It is really hard to think of your customer avatar all the time. Often we get all caught up in the excitement of what we have to offer and forget that the language we use and the tone needs to connect. The nuance and detail is so important. As ever the groundwork needs to be done properly before embarking on this path. Thank you for the reminder. Shelley

  • Such a good point, and one a lot of people really struggle with – I teach the use of archetypes to tailor content to your ideal client’s profile, and the biggest mistake people make is answering the questions on the quiz for themselves. So they end up knowing their own archetypal profile, but that is frequently completely different to their ideal clients’. I’ve found the easiest way to explain it to people is this:
    At some point in life you probably WERE your ideal client, which is how you ended up doing what you do. Now you know how to fix the problems you had back them. You do it so well you can fix them for other people. You need to go back to thinking the way you did before you could do what you’re now doing for them. It’s about where they are, not where you are.

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