Why you need an ideal customer profile (and how to create one)
How do you write content that connects with your audience?
That’s a tough one, right? I mean, it’s easy enough to talk about your business and what you’re working on with a friend over nachos and a glass of wine. But when you have to do it in writing, to someone on the other side of a page or a screen, it feels a lot more intimidating…. especially when you want them to get so excited that they take the plunge and hit the “Buy Now” button.
I get it. That “okay, how do I put this into words” moment happens to me too. So today I thought I’d share one of the tools that is most helpful to me when it comes to finding the words to truly connect with my dream clients and customers: the Ideal Customer Profile.
Creating content that resonates
It’s important when you’re creating content to know what your purpose is in this particular context. Is it to get them to click on the link to the content upgrade? To subscribe to your newsletter? To purchase your course or visit your Etsy shop? Always start by asking yourself, “What’s my goal with this piece of content?”.
Once you know what your goal is, the challenge is to craft content that will resonate with your reader and get them ready to take whatever action you want them to take. In order to do that, your content should do a few things:
- It should anticipate what your reader will think and feel, and know how to capture their attention
- It should build trust with you, positioning you as someone who understands them and can help them solve a specific problem or meet a specific need
- It should compel them to take action
But how do you actually do that? You may feel like there are all kinds of different people reading your work or visiting your site. How do you write content that appeals to all of them?
The answer is, you don’t.
In order to build a meaningful connection with a group of people that you are excited to serve and who are excited to buy your products, you need to have a conversation. That’s why talking with your friend over nachos and wine is so much easier than writing a blog post or a sales page — because you’re having a conversation.
It’s very difficult to have a conversation with 50 people. It’s much easier to know what to say in a comfortable, authentic and approachable way when it’s just two of you exchanging ideas in a way that you know the other person can respond to.
This is where an ideal customer (or client, or reader) profile can help.
How an Ideal Customer Profile can help
An ideal customer profile allows you to cut through the clutter and create a message that is formulated specifically for one person — the person you most want to have as a client, customer or reader.
Specifically, an ideal customer profile helps you with three things:
- It helps you to understand your audience. What do they want, like, and need? What kind of thing will make them laugh or settle in to read more? What are the pain points and stressors in their lives and business that they wish they could find a solution to? What will induce them to buy, or what will hold them back from taking the leap? What will make them feel like they have achieved success, or like they’ve failed?
- It gives you clarity about how to communicate with your dream clients. Having a clear picture of your audience in your mind’s eye makes it easier to create content that meets their needs, because you have a better sense of what their pain points are and how you can help them.
- It helps your audience to connect with you. When they feel like you understand them and are speaking directly to them, your readers will be more engaged, connected, and committed to you and what you have to offer. It creates a sense of relationship rather than being “talked to”.
An ideal customer profile does this by distilling the essence of the type of person that you want to attract and creating a personality description that brings an abstract concept to life.
For example, say you’re a graphic designer. Your ideal client might be someone in her mid-twenties to mid-thirties who owns a small but growing business and needs help taking her visuals to the next level. What an ideal profile does is create a “character” to represent that concept, making it easier to actually imagine this client in your mind’s eye and develop content that would speak specifically to her. You can even give your profile a name — in fact, I suggest doing this because it helps to make the “character” seem more real.
In the case of our graphic designer, an ideal customer / client profile might look something like this:
Alexa is a 28-year-old wedding photographer living in a small town about an hour outside of Seattle. She started photography as a hobby a few years ago but was able to quickly turn it into a significant side-business that continues to expand. She is hoping to be able to go full-time soon and is beginning to think about how she wants to position her business going forward. She’s not quite sure if she’s ready to invest in design just yet, but she knows that having a strong visual brand will be important if and when she makes the leap to full-time work. When Alexa isn’t at her day job at the local bookstore or snapping and processing photos, you’ll likely find her curled up in her apartment with a good book or checking out a new local restaurant with a few friends.
The profile could go even more in-depth: what kind of movies Alexa likes, what kinds of books she reads, whether she prefers hiking or checking out a museum (or both), where she’d go on vacation if she could.
At first glance, it may seem strange to come up with a bunch of details that don’t seem relevant to how this ideal client would relate to the graphic designer in our example. But the purpose is to actually create a person in the designer’s mind, so that when she sits down to create a new package, write a blog post, or post on Instagram, she can ask herself, “Would Alexa be interested in this? Would it help her? Would it appeal to her visually? Would she read it, click it, share it with other people in her network?”
Choosing to focus on the “ideal” instead of a larger group
It may seem scary or counter-intuitive to get this specific with a description of your ideal customer. After all, doesn’t that mean that you’re excluding everyone who doesn’t fit the profile?
Sort of. But I think it’s important to do it anyways, for two reasons.
First, focusing on your ideal client is a good way to start building relationships with the people that you really want to serve and help without having to actively turn away people who may not fit the profile so well, because your content will be doing the work for you! And if the thought of creating something that doesn’t appeal to everyone seems scary, just think about how much more it will appeal to the people you really want to work with — how much more engaged they’ll be because it feels like you’re speaking to them directly, and how much more willing they’ll be to share your work with someone else like them.
Second, the profile is only meant to help you envision that dream client in your mind’s eye. It doesn’t actually limit you to only 20-something photographers on the West Coast, but it will help you to create a voice and a brand that appeals to entrepreneurs like the imaginary Alexa, even if they don’t exactly match her description.
How to create an ideal customer profile
So. After all that, ready to start working on your own ideal customer profile? Here’s how to do that.
Ask yourself a series of questions to help you get a better sense of what your ideal customer is all about. I’ve listed a bunch to get you started below, and there are even more in the free workbook you can download at the end of this post.
Start with their basic demographic information.
- What is their gender?
- How old are they?
- Where do they live? (Continent, country, city vs. country — get as specific as you like here)
Then start asking yourself about their business. This is where you’ll be trying to understand what their needs are and how you can help them.
- What kind of work do they do?
- How long have they been running their blog / business?
- What do they love most about their work?
- What are some of their short- and medium- term goals?
- What are some of their long-term goals?
- What are three things that they are afraid of or that keep them up at night?
Then do some brainstorming about their lifestyle, hobbies, and interests. This may seem like unimportant information, but it helps to fill out the picture of who they are and what appeals to them. This is helpful from a visual marketing perspective, because it will help you to understand what kind of aesthetic they’re attracted to (e.g. feminine, modern, bright, minimal, etc.). It is also helpful from a “conversational” perspective, because it allows you to imagine them going about their life and communicate in a way that fits that picture.
- What kinds of books do they read?
- What are their favourite websites and magazines?
- Which social media platforms are their favourite? How much time do they spend on them?
- What are their hobbies/interests?
- Do they like to travel? Where is the last place they visited, and where do they want to go next?
- If their friends could describe them in three words, which words would they use?
2. Write a profile
Now use the ideas and answers you’ve come up with to create a profile for your ideal customer. Describe this person in detail — give them a name and a story, so that they come to life in your mind.
3. Put the profile to work
You made it! Now it’s time to reap the rewards for all your hard work. Print or save a copy of the profile somewhere you can refer to it often. When you need clarity on how to approach a piece of content, or if you’re wondering whether your audience would appreciate a particular product idea or decision, the profile you’ve created can act as a starting point.
Time to get started!
To make this easy for you, I made a 11-page printable workbook for you to walk you through the process. It has all of the questions I’ve listed here and a few more too, plus space to brainstorm, take notes, and draft an ideal customer profile that will help you better visualize and communicate with the audience of your dreams. Just click the button below to get started!